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In this paper athree-stage pulse generator architecture capable of generating high voltage, high current pulses is reported and system issues are presented. Design choices and system dynamics are explained both qualitatively and quantitatively with discussion sections followed by the presentation of closed-form expressions and numerical analysis that provide insight into the system's operation. Analysis targeted at optimizing performance focuses on diode opening switch pumping, energy efficiency, and compensation of parasitic reactances. A compact system based on these design guidelines has been built to output 8 kV, 5 ns pulses into 50 Ω. Output risetimes below 1 ns have been achieved using two different compression techniques. At only 1.5 kg, this light and compact system shows promise for a variety of pulsed power applications requiring the long lifetime, low jitter performance of a solid state pulse generator that can produce fast, high voltage pulses at high repetition rates.