The SPEED 3 compact plasma focus device will be used as a soft x-ray source for various practical applications. It exploits a bifocal configuration with a plane insulator, very short accelerator and a hollow inner electrode. The discharge is driven by eight parallel two-stage Marx modules, capable of delivering up to 1.25 MA of current with the rise time of 0.3 s. The key parts of the device, the plasma diagnostic systems used, and the processes in the discharge are described in the paper. Framing camera pictures of a typical discharge are shown for illustration. The results of preliminary experiments are discussed, dealing almost exclusively with the discharge inaction, sheath and pinch formation. (J.U.). 1 tab., 3 figs., 2 refs.