Friday, July 30, 2010

How Times Have Changed

Caption: A 2000 uF, 200V electrolytic capacitor. Four inches (10 cm) tall and almost two inches (5 cm) in diameter, these are sometimes referred to as a "can" or a "BFC" (the 'B' is for "big"). This sort of capacitor might have been used in large DC power supplies a few years ago. (In the age of universal power supplies, the voltage rating would have to be higher.) This particular example is clearly old. You know that because it was manufactured in the U.S.A.

Image credit: Cujo359

I've been researching computer power supplies - never mind why, it's a long story that's only interesting to computer geeks. What's interesting from a political or social perspective is the cache given to Japanese capacitors. Here's a quote on the Antec TPQ 850 power supply from Hardware Logic:

The primary capacitor in this unit is a Nippon Chemi-Con 450v/470uF monster rated for 105°C. Nippon Chemi-Con has a very good reputation in electrolytic capacitors. This is a premium grade component and the size and rating seem adequate.

Antec True Power Quattro 850 Watt Power Supply

And even more explicitly, a Hardware Secrets review of the Corsair CMPSU-750TX gushes:

This power supply uses only Japanese capacitors, all rated at 105ยบ C. The active PFC capacitor is from Matushita (Panasonic) while the smaller ones are from Chemi-Con.

Corsair TX750W Power Supply Review

I don't disagree with either of these conclusions, and good capacitors in a power supply can make the difference between a steady, quiet power output and a variable, noisy one. They're really important.

What's interesting to me is that it's yet another indication of how well Japan has done in addressing its old reputation as the place that made lousy stuff. It spent a generation learning how to design and manufacture things well. In contrast, after being led for a generation by fast buck artists at both the corporate and government level, American products like the one in the picture are often considered second rate, if they are even made at all.

Progress marches on.


Dana Hunter said...

And we're just standing here watching it go by. Sigh.

Cujo359 said...

It does feel that way, yes.