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Skunk Works (A Digital Cable Tuner Saga)
Posted by Chris Morley

When you hear of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division – the loving name given to their Advanced Development Projects Unit – you might think of the U2 spy plane or the SR-71, both of which were aircraft that were ahead of their time and encompassed the best of American aeronautical technology. But the Skunk Works’ story is one of true grit and forged out of dire necessity.

Formed in WWII, Skunk Works was tasked with developing aircraft capable of combating German technology. Their first plane, the P-38 Lightning, would prove to be the most successful of the war. Later, a small team at Skunk Works rolled out the United States’ first jet prototype in 143 days, the P-80 Shooting Star.

Similarly, our team of product development engineers has been hard at work getting ready to roll out digital cable support in our media centers. We started late to the game as the big name OEMs have been working on it for three years. We have had three months. The documentation was sparse, we had to jump through legal hurdles, and forge new relationships with partners like Cable Labs. To be honest with you, we were greeted with raised eyebrows when we talked about our intentions to deliver cable cards to our customers, but very quickly everyone found out how serious we were. So serious, in fact, that we not only completed our validation and engineering (which I consider to be some of the most grueling of my career - couldn't have done it without ya, Iggy!), but we were the first to submit our conformance documents to Cable Labs since the program officially launched in November of last year.

I consider this a prime example of what a motivated, resourceful, and agile company can do to be truly innovative in a market where the term is thrown around like a beach ball.

So lately we’ve been getting high fives around the office and from Microsoft, Intel, and AMD. NVIDIA’s pleased that they’ll be part of the story too, and we are all very happy that our customers are going to be getting these systems soon, as we will be the first company to actually ship a digital cable certified system. Our first customer systems will be rolling out of our facilities late this week, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Expect reviews to be popping up from the usual suspects as well…

Take a gander at the Velocity Micro CineMagix series, all of which feature ATI's TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner (OCUR).

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[3.19.2007 @ 2:35 PM]  [Digg it]

Blogger Kevin B. said...
YESSS!!! I cant wait!! Ive been checking my e-mail regularly waiting patiently for that e-mail saying my system is done so I can schedule my pick up :)Usually I wait for the technology to develelop and the prices come down but ive been waiting for something like this to come around for a long time and ive heard nothing but good things about yours systems and company so im taking the leap at being on the bleeding edge of technology with you. so when you say its ready ill probally be there within 5 minutes since I only live about 5 miles form you LOL. Hopefully the cablecard setup with comcast will be smooth. I cringe at getting there tech to come out and wish I could do it myself. You have probally done alot of the testing on there system so hopefully they have a clue.

Kevin Barnes
[3/20/2007 11:12 PM]    

Blogger Chris Morley - Director of Product Development said...
Five minutes away? Heck, I'd be willing to come over and help you set it up!
[3/23/2007 8:11 PM]    

Blogger Kevin B. said...

That would be awesome if you could come over and help me set it up and head off any issues id have with comcast!! I know your probally busy so im not gonna hold you to it. Hopefully I will be getting my system soon!!! I odered a raid 5 system with 4 250MB drives and the blu-ray so I guess there are not enough sata ports to go around. so im hoping for the IDE drive solution ( rather have sata but can win them all) hopefully there is not performace drop. I hope to get the system soon I ordered mine 1/30/07 ouch!!

[4/08/2007 10:14 PM]    

Blogger The Fredd said...
You picked a good idol to compare yourselves to. Either you love them as much as I do, or you really did your research. Either way, mad props, fuck yeah skonk works.
[11/27/2007 10:30 PM]    
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