By Gary McCormack, Keyssa Co-Founder and CTO
For my own particular reasons, I had arrived at the conclusion that connectors had to get out of our way. But the path there required going back in time.
Over a decade ago:
Working in the domain of high-performance semiconductors, I worked alongside engineers who were chartered to build the chips that would form the infrastructure behind the phone calls, text messages, emails, web pages, and videos accessed by billions of people each day; <whew>. The racks and stacks of state-of-the-art equipment in data centers across the world were being stuffed with semiconductors designed along three core metrics: performance, price, and power. We put dozens and dozens of chips into service that were driven by those metrics. And following those same metrics were other semiconductor companies – our competition – or at least that’s what we thought we were competing against…
Over a century ago:
Sometimes you gotta look up from what you’re doing to see what you’re banging your head against. The core of the problem we were trying to solve, over and over again, was because there was a connector in our path. Those connectors were creating glitches in the communication link that grew geometrically harder to deal with as system performance pushed to higher and higher transfer speeds. Over a dozen semiconductor companies developed families of chips whose sole purpose were to help get signals through connectors. Hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of man-hours, all to compensate for somebody’s decision to put a connector in the path. A simple choice to use a connector turned out to have a very expensive, high-tech “butterfly effect” the world is still feeling today. And this was a decision that began over a century ago and had never been questioned since.
The solution to go forward was simple, and to quote from Smith and Dale (look ’em up): “Don’t do that.” Simply ditch the connectors.
Of course, somebody’s bound to spot that something’s missing. Which presents the next challenge: backfilling the connector we just eliminated. The reason it’s a challenge is because of domains. Working just within the domain of a semiconductor company, your only tools to solve problems are… you guessed it: semiconductors. Likewise, connector companies’ only tools are metal and plastic. These domain constraints become a barrier to the innovation that needs to happen, on a scale that’s beyond the individual domains. It’s not about thinking outside the box, it’s thinking about all the boxes.
So again, the solution is simple: ignore the barriers and reach into any domain necessary to create a new solution. Semiconductors, analog circuits, digital circuits, RF circuits, mechanics, electromagnetics, chemistry, industrial design, magnetics, programming, test – even marketing. Access to so many tools can be quite empowering. There’s a quip about “a solution looking for a problem” – Keyssa is precisely the opposite. The problem is centuries old and our solution is a distillation from a dozen leading-edge technologies and disciplines. This is a problem that found a solution.
I began by saying “for my own particular reasons”. Well, it turned out there were a lot more reasons than just my own. Keyssa’s mission has resonated with the frustrations many have felt when dealing with connectors, and we’ve used that energy to reinvent the connector. It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child, and that certainly holds for the path that led us here today – a topic for another blog post.