More Is Less

Armored Vehicle

More is less—and that’s an idea that GE Intelligent Platforms is really on board with.

That’s not to say more is worth less; more is still worth more. But, in fact, less is worth even more. Confused? Let me explain with a story (I always have a story…). 

I recall buying a new car costing $10,000. It was 1980, and that was a huge amount of money (at least to me) and way more than I had ever paid before, but the car was so cool, so modern and state-of-the-art. In looking back, though, the reality is that the most advanced technology on that car was a cassette player. 

Now, fast forward to today: At a simple 3% inflation, that same car should cost a bit over $28,000. A quick review of “best cars under $30,000” reveals cars with really impressive technology: anti-lock brakes, 11 airbags, navigation/infotainment systems, hybrid engines, fuel economy that is three times better. The list goes on. (I might add that none come with a cassette player.) 

So this is what I mean; for the same (current adjusted) price, you get more. More is less—costly.

This brings me to our stuff. As you know, we make embedded computers. We build these from commercially available processors and make them perform in extreme environments by clever packaging, thermal management and special board fabrication techniques. These computers handle really incredible tasks; everything from tracking missiles to calculating when a turbine bearing will fail—to providing simulation and training visuals. 

Asking a lot

We ask a lot of these commercial devices. Thanks to their constant evolution, they—in addition to our own relentless pursuit of advances in packaging and manufacturing—have enabled GE to build our embedded computers to be ever more capable, smaller in size, lower in weight, less power hungry and less expensive. For example: a quick review of some embedded computers in use over the past seven years shows that, today, we are producing embedded computers that weigh (per MFLOP) 75% less and consume 90% less power at a price tag that is 80% less. More is less at GE's Intelligent Platforms business.

We supply to all branches of the military. We put computers in armored vehicles, aircraft, navy ships, drones; pretty much anything with a computer in it has a GE label there as well. In large part, this is because "more is less"; by using GE computers, our customers find they can do more computing and carry less burden. 

Here’s an example. I was recently told that, for every one watt of heat inside an armored vehicle, you must consume two watts of power to get that heat out of the vehicle! So, when you tell a platform integrator that you’re going to drop the heat production of a computer by 90%, you can just imagine the reaction. Think about it: Something that took 100 watts and required another 200 watts to keep it cool now takes only 30 watts total. At 100 watts, that one device on a typical mission would consume nearly a third of a gallon of fuel at a weight of nearly two pounds as opposed to one 50th of a gallon and a quarter of a pound at 30 watts. When you multiply this out to the many kilowatts needed for computers in the typical armored vehicle, you can see why, to our warfighters, less really is worth more.

That’s why we do what we do—why we employ the latest processor technologies, why we constantly refresh our products, why we constantly improve our manufacturing and invest in new thermal and packaging technology development—to make more—well, less. Our customers need it, our technology supports it and our culture lives it. 

So that's my story for today. If you're interested, I'll be available at AUSA Global Force 2015 in Huntsville, Alabama, next week. Stop by booth #2140 and say hello...

Larry Schaffer

Larry Schaffer has been with us in a business development role since 2001, and works to create and maintain long-term, strategic relationships with key companies engaged in embedded computing for ground systems applications with a strong emphasis on image processing and distribution. He was born in Pennsylvania and educated as an Electrical Engineer in New Jersey and California (where he now lives). Just don’t ask him to tell you about being a war baby…

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