Host, Cirina Catania, catches up with OWC’s owner, Larry O’Connor, to get the inside, under the hood skinny on how to configure your order for a new Mac Pro from Apple.
It’s an in-depth reveal of just about everything you need to know about the new Mac Pro and OWC’s solutions for it.
How many cores should you order? What kind of graphics card? How much memory? Does it matter which monitor you are using? What about your SSD internal storage? So many questions, so we went straight to the source and asked Larry.
As usual, he has the answers!
For more information, go to MacSales.com. You’ll find hardware and software solutions and tutorial videos that will get you up and running in no time.
For more about our host, filmmaker, tech maven and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Cirina Catania, visit cirinacatania.com.
If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and tell all your friends about us! We love our listeners. And, if you have ideas for segments, write to OWCRadio@catania.us. Cirina is always up for new ideas!
In This Episode
- 00:11 – Cirina introduces Larry O’Connor, CEO, and founder of Other World Computing.
- 03:56 – Larry explains how to start choosing your machine based on the memory variant.
- 07:31 – Larry explains how the Accelsior card works with the Mac Pro.
- 12:03 – Larry tells the story of when they built an SSD designed for RAIDS with no need for TRIM.
- 16:27 – Larry shares how to save money and get quality products by upgrading your Mac Pro with OWC products.
- 20:57 – Larry recommends graphic cards based on specific working requirements and tips in buying the products.
- 24:55 – Larry shares how they create products based on people’s challenges and pain points.
- 29:19 – Larry shares the transition of TLC to QLC.
- 34:54 – Larry shares the benefits of investing in high-performance flash memory.
- 41:08 – Visit owc.com or macsales.com to check out reliable quality products.
Okay, we are rolling. This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I have Mr. OWC on the line, Larry O’Connor, the CEO, and founder of Other World Computing. We got a lot to talk about today. Don’t we, Larry?
Yeah, we always do, always lots going on in the world of technology.
Yeah, there is. So I wanted to talk to you because I’m getting a lot of questions about configuring the new Mac Pro. And I know that OWC has solutions that can help us get more of what we need for less money than we can get on the Apple Store. And as much as I love Apple, I do trust OWC’s memories, so I thought maybe we could take a minute and go through what a customer would need to know when they’re buying the Mac Pro and how OWC can help with all that. How about that?
In the Apple Store, you’re going to pay a big premium, but I would never, certainly not today, question Apple’s quality. Aftermarket, there’s a lot of variabilities, and I would argue a lot more risk in that department. And now, we’re glad to be certainly certified with all of our products with extensive testing and actual ownership of machines to ensure ongoing quality when it comes to memory. For memory, I have to recommend anything that’s upgradeable from Apple, buying the absolute minimum that you can purchase and then be able to upgrade with OWC in this particular case. It literally saves you thousands, even under the smaller memory upgrades. It’s a huge saving and to get effectively the same quality of product and a warranty that is lifetime versus just a year on AppleCare extended. And the memory in the Mac Pro Apple, the set is user upgradeable. They even had instructions up, which I believe at this point, they cranked. They had a mistake in how they tell people where to put the additional memory, but that was early on and taken care of.We're glad all of our products are certified with extensive testing and secure the actual ownership of machines to ensure ongoing quality. Click To Tweet
Nonetheless, it is a user-supported upgrade. We tell you where to put it, and we tell you the right place, we’ll show it in a video, so easy to do and then great savings. The solid-state drive, until Apple changes their support for a secondary drive, I do recommend you have enough of a solid-state drive from the factory. I’d say it all comes down a lot compared to where it was even just a year or two years ago. On the factory side and a machine of that caliber and purpose, I would certainly recommend going with at least a 2TB internal drive just to have some room to breathe. For your editing for doing that VR, the Apple drive tops out sustains 3000mbps. You can plug one of our Accelsior cards, which I guess still cost a lot less than the SSD factory, a NAND drive that will give you over double that performance on a sustained basis. So going up to an 8TB card and followed by our 4TB, our most popular Accelsiors, but once you get enough room, you have to support your boot activities. The main stuff on your internal drive using an Accelsior is to support heavy-duty and prosthetic processing needs. It’s not only a way to save money and get a safe space but also gets over double the performance of what the stock app drive provides. So it’s a win-win for what needs to be on the boot drive.
Why don’t we paint a picture for people because I think it gets a bit confusing for some of us. There are so many choices when you go to the Apple Store. So can we start by talking about how many cores do you need? If you’re doing video editing and have a medium-sized shop, or if you have a large shop, but you’re doing a lot of video editing, how much do you need? Is a 16 core big enough or do you need more?
Again, there’s a lot of variables there. A small shop can be heavy-duty stuff, so it comes down to the applications and what you’re doing. And that’s worth, in this type of case when you talk to Apple about the Mac Pro of what you’re doing, they give you pretty good advice. But on the audio world, the 12 core seems to be kind of the sweet spot. For most folks, 16 core compared to others, is anything that has come before this machine and bandwidth, slots, and just the overall mixing capability. Now, this thing is an incredibly powerful system, and the other fun thing. We haven’t gotten in there. We’re gonna wait a little while. These machines are still new. We want to make sure that all the bugs are worked out before we start adding things that could be pointed at.
But starting with even a 12 core or 16 core isn’t a horrible place to start because the processor can be replaced. And that’s something that we will be offering aftermarket. So you could start potentially with a 12 or 16 core today and for a heck of a lot less than the factory cost. You’ll later drop on one of those higher core Xeon with speed, a model that’s not yet released by Intel, so even the processors are upgraded.
So as long as you know you’re making a good leap forward for what you already have, and at least meets your needs, or a reasonable time, I think you want to buy it and immediately upgrade it. For upgrading outside the warranty leads to anything that’s going to have an issue with Apple, but these systems are workhorses. They definitely are built to last, just like the silver tower, which quite frankly is still going strong for a ton of folks. They were so happy to support back the Accelsior, which works in the silver tower as well as it works in the very latest 2019 version. Now, this is a machine that certainly, I would argue, is kind of at least a decade-plus ahead of it.When a customer finds what they need at a reasonable price, they’ll more likely take the leap. Eventually, they’ll buy or upgrade right away. Click To Tweet
Wow. Explain to people what the Accelsior is.
An Accelsior is an SSD array effectively as a PCIe SSD card that you plug into the Mac Pro X, any Mac Pro Silver Tower, or the latest 2019 Mac Pro that has a PCIe slot available. It works in PCs and works in Thunderbolt Chassis. It allows you to add up to 8TB of flash. The capacity with a performance of over 6000 MB, a second read and write are extremely fast, high capacity storage. It’s ideally suited for video editing and high volume, audio, and music instrumentation. People are doing a soundtrack for major motion pictures. A huge motion picture sequel that is going to be coming out next year is already using our Accelsiors on these production workflows.
Oh, that’s exciting. This is in addition to the factory issued SSD storage that you get, right?
Is the Accelsior an additional card or replacement for the factory issued SSD storage that comes with the Mac Pro.
That’s kind of both. I recommend using the internal factory drive to support your OS and potential applications. Until Apple supports bootability on something other than just the factory drive, which currently cannot be upgraded, aim for backup. I think they need to support another boot option. There are ways around it. You can hack around it. Things like Carbon Copy Cloner will let you clone your bootable volume to an external drive or an internal PCIe driver, and then you can boot off it. It’s just not an ideal thing because Apple doesn’t technically support- and I get a little nervous recommending- a mission-critical workflow. Especially if suddenly you need it one day and Apple’s made a change and suddenly that backup isn’t a viable option or that boot device stops behaving correctly. Because Apple has decided they’re flipping a switch, which again, they probably wouldn’t do, but anyway, that’s a whole other topic of conversation.
But to the main point, a 2TB internal drive, I think, is a good investment. The cost has come down so much compared to a couple of years ago. That is a small addition when you are configuring that system and miss the only time you can upgrade the SSD in the Mac Pro. And once you have it, there’s not an option to add more later. So even if you decide that you want to sell the system, having a larger internal flash drive gives you better protection of that particular unit for the Accelsior. This is added in a flash, which technically you can you can’t boot off of it, but it’s over twice as fast as the stock Apple flash. Then gives you a lower cost additional capacity which then you can use for your data processing, a library for creating music, bring massive soundtrack or VR AR editing, video processing, 4k rendering whatever 6-8K rendering for that matter. Whatever process that you have, and that’s a super suitable opportunity for adding the Accelsior.Until Apple supports bootability on something other than just the factory drive, which currently cannot be upgraded, aim for a backup. Click To Tweet
So you can find the Accelsior on macsales.com. Do you recall offhand how much it costs?
Certainly, it starts under $700. You can also buy 0G, although I highly recommend you buying it populated, ready to go, and it ships with SoftRAID for RAID and also for its disk monitoring plus I also should add that it is the only solution today. In fact, SoftRAID and all of our SoftRAID powered external SSD arrays as well as the eternal array. It’s not a hack, SoftRAID supports trimming at these high speeds. In particular, having an SSD array without trimming gauge, you lose a lot of performance and quite frankly half the far more erratic data transfer rates versus the high top end that the SoftRAID with its trim support enables. And in most cases, I am an advocate of not needing trim, but at these speeds, you really need trim to have the best results.
We’ve been talking about trim. My goodness, we were talking about trim on the Digital Production BuZZ four years ago, right? I think.
Actually, it goes back to 2012.
Does it really?
If you really want to go back actually 2011 because OWC back in 2011, we introduced, reengineered, built a chip, the very first SSD really designed for the Mac space before there was any trim, before even Apple had trim support for their own drives. And this particular drive eliminates the external crutch requirement of having a trim for its data management on the OS to understand what’s free in the drive, not because they’re not physical locations on flash. And the address bay has to be tracked, and you don’t know where you can and can’t write. So if you don’t have the computer doing that with a lot of drives, you end up with far slower performance because you’re depending on an SSD. And when you have no trim on the Mac OS at all, and you had a drive-in there that needed trim, within a few months, that drive could become slower than a hard drive. Now, the control that we built around it was the first of its kind that was designed for RAIDS, where there was no trim support. So you couldn’t depend on trim, to begin with, and it ended up being perfect in an enterprise controller effectively. And it was the perfect solution for the Mac space where it doesn’t put out a drive, and it didn’t depend on hacks.
When Apple later had a trim, you could kind of hack on for a non-Apple drive, it was a drive and didn’t need the crutch. Now all of today’s drives, by and large, do pretty good internal management with or without trim. But as you get into the higher speeds still with NVMe, if you do not have trim, you do lose some performance, and it really hates being in an array where you’re moving massive amounts of data. But you can do with a Mac Pro. Now, without trim, depending on the drives on internal capabilities, versus having a call-it partnership between the OS and the drive-in terms of managing those data addresses, you end up with less than optimal performance. They’re really good performance but not the best performance you can have. So we married all SoftRAID, whether that’s with a Thunderblade or with the Accelsior internal in a machine. We’re able to give you the maximum benefit of what the drive can do, along with really how the OS is designed to operate with the expectation that trim is a part of the equation.
You mentioned SoftRAID, and I have to tell you a little story. I was in a production meeting the other day. One of our producing partners said, “Hey, by the way, you’ve been talking about software a lot Cirina,” he said, “I got a notice the other day that one of my drives was going to fail.” He said, “That thing really works! I’m sending for a new drive.” So I thought that was a bad news and good news, right? You saved the day with SoftRAID.
Unfortunately, hard drives will fail. I mean drives, I think, are built better at some point, especially if you have a lot of movement. It’s like anything else, you’re driving down the road, you may have the best tires, but there’s a nail on the road. Unfortunately, you’re gonna have a puncture. Stuff like that unfortunately happens. The nail might create a slow leak. You can still drive on it, but the sensors, the good ones, you would know that the tire has an issue before you can no longer drive on it and break. SoftRAID does a great job giving people advance warning of an upcoming failure potential before it’s in the middle of a mission-critical production. Even to RAID 5 where you can lose a drive, everyone wants to no longer have redundancy, and now you have another drive where something happens, suddenly everything’s lost.
So I got you off track. Let’s talk about what the Accelsior costs.
It’s available today for 1TB up to 8TB. It starts at under $700. And the 8TB is the number one selling capacity, currently at $1,999. And this was something that would be a bit lower, but flash has really gone up in the first year, actually kind of started at the very end of last year. At the beginning of this year, with some actual supply crunches out there, even before the Coronavirus became a factor and on the go forward. I’ll be honest to say in general in flash, now that totally drove to another area, and I’m a little concerned in terms of how things are going to shape this year. They will impact the market for this year, but best we’re going to see prices stay flat and at worst we could see future shortages and even higher prices on some kinds of products. There’s a lot going on in the flash market, even before how this China virus is going to impact, so it’s interesting. We want to make these things more affordable, but I think still great savings over Apple and offers a great benefit in terms of what it does, in general, it would be looking at flash actually makes Apple stuff look like a really better deal. They have pretty good contracts in terms of the pricing and more than what we charge, but still again. I will say over and over again, adding a little more flash at the factory, I think, is a really good long-term investment.
Yeah, I agree. I think 2TB would be the minimum. I’m going to talk to you about China in a minute, but I want to keep going on the Mac Pro so we can give people a visual of what they need. So we’ve talked about the processor, and it comes with an Intel Xeon W processor, and it talks about turbo boost. Then we get into memory, here’s what I think a minimum might be and you tell me if I’m right, I’m thinking that if you’re ordering a new Mac Pro, you need at least 48GB of memory. And then you can supplement with OWC to bring it up to more. Is that how you would recommend configuring it?
I would honestly just start with 32 gigs, why even spend the extra to get 48?
Aha, there you go. So you’re saving some money there. So get 32 gigs. And then how much memory do you think you might need to put in from OWC?
The nice thing about memory is you can really choose to upgrade as you need as you want. You can max out, and we’re trying to make this easier on our pages. You can’t mix if you want more than 384GB, you have to go to LRDIMMs, as opposed to ECC RDIMMs. So everything up to 384, the 8s, the 16s, and the 32 gig modules. Those you can max, they gotta be in pairs, no less than pair sets. You can’t put 116 with 32. They gotta be installed, at least in pairs. But you can have up to 12 modules of ECC DIMMs or up to 12 modules of LRDIMM everything 64GB and 128GB must connect. So you max 64 and 128, there are some things there as well to be aware of. I can go into 1000 need a little of the idiosyncrasies, and they say it’s quirks. At the end of the day, up to 384GB, you can do with the ECC DIMMs, so you can mix that stock memory and add another pair of 16GB rather with two eights, 16 to that 32. So that if you buy 32 gigs, you’ve got four slots populated and eight slots open. And the machine makes the run with either 4, 6, 8, or 12 modules installed, and the only thing you can not do effectively is to have ten modules in the machine.
Why is that?
It’s just the way the architecture works. It likes to work in sets of fours or sets of six. The way it addresses maximizes memory bandwidth. It all has to do with how it interlaces, how it puts a memory together, and uses the available bandwidth and maps across multiple modules to give you the best memory bandwidth performance. But yeah, Apple charges a lot of money just to even go from 32 to 48, they’re charging $300. For just a little bit more than 200 bucks, you can add 64 gigs for under 300. You can add another 32. So you can add double for either half the price, you can add 16 gigs more or for twice the price you can add 32 and add double. A better configuration, you can start with 32 gigs, and whatever you decide you need, it’s easy to upgrade afterwards. So there’s no minimum or maximum I would suggest other than what your application dictates. If you need more memory, well, you got those 12 slots, and it’s easy to add more.
That’s awesome. Now, is it as easy to add as it was on the iMac with the Mac Pro? It seems like it would be.
I’d say it’s a little bit easier because on iMac, you gotta get that tray out, there SODIMMs, it’s a smaller monitor and kind of a tighter compartment. Now, these are nice big monitors to plug into, easily accessible slots when you open up a Mac Pro. Very easy upgrade.
I mean, I upgraded my iMac the moment I got it. I think it did a little tutorial on the web about how to do it using OWC memory. It was so easy. This is great news. I’m so glad we’re talking about this because you’re helping people to configure these, and you’re saving them some money at the same time. But what about graphics cards? Do you have an opinion on the graphics cards? That seems to be something that people wonder if they need the Radeon Pro Vega, Radeon Pro Vega II or if they need the two duos, or is that something appropriate to talk about?
It is certainly appropriate to talk about, but honestly, that’s a good place to talk to Apple and understand what your application needs are, what you’re editing today, what you’re editing tomorrow. Remember you have PCIe slots if you don’t add it at the factory you know there will be opportunities to add these cards later. If you’re gonna have a Radeon, the W card is going to be a little different program. Still, there’s an XT version of that that they will be offering Apple honestly is going to have that at W5700, hopefully relatively soon. It’s just starting to ship in general out in the market, and that’s a card that honestly worth waiting for. But at the end of the day, it comes down to, what are your specific requirements today, what you think is near term. Remember the other thing about the higher end Vega II. It also has Thunderbolt ports, so that’s something else to consider. Do you want more Thunderbolt, but also be aware that there are some bandwidth limitations potentially on those cards when you use those for Thunderbolt.
This is still an area that I educate myself on. They seem to be a better service. They’re gonna use it for high-resolution displays plugged directly into the port on the card as opposed to additional data devices.
So that’s actually a big thing to think about because that is something to consider. Also, if you want to have a lot of Thunderbolt devices external to the computer plus high-resolution displays, those high-resolution displays suck down a huge portion of the bandwidth today on those Thunderbolt 3 connections. You don’t want to be driving a 6K display on the same bus that you got your editing drives because the amount of bandwidth that takes is pretty substantial. I know one thing the 5700 does is it has a new compression technology that is supposed to reduce it without impacting the display output. It is supposed to reduce the amount of bandwidth that’s default taken down on the Thunderbolt line, now by the video portion. So that’s something else that could be another benefit for the 5700. There’s a lot honestly to learn and research on the video cards and like anything else.
Certainly, in this price range, I recommend anybody looking into Mac Pro to really understand what their workflow requirements are, and do your homework on the options. But for memory, for solid-state, it’s pretty easy, the video cards and everything else. Video cards, again, you want to pick the right thing to start with from the factory, but know you’re going to have options in the future. The solid-state drive, whatever you buy from the factory, that’s what you’re gonna have. So certainly, the 2TB I think, is a pretty good recommendation machine of this class. Getting the 256 GB is gonna be a huge mistake, in my opinion, unless you’re willing to work on it, run off a hack system, you saw the OS a map drive, and then you clone it over. And once you do, I mean it does work, but I would never feel comfortable running on a cloned system in a way that Apple doesn’t support. I’ve tested it. I’ve tried it myself. I can say it does work, but it’s just not comfortable. I want to be able to do a clean, fresh install on the device I boot from.
Yeah, and you know what, that’s one of those “life is too short” situations. Well, I think the Accelsior card is good news for people, and I think the fact that you can save a lot of money and install a lot of OWC memory is really also wonderful. Is there anything else about the Mac Pro and OWC solutions that we need to call attention to?
Not yet today, although all of our external drives, of course, our Thunderbolt products are plug and play and go. You got to add a port inside that extra SSD stick nicely. We have a greatly developed pipeline for the new Mac Pro, and it offers a huge array of different potentials. We’re looking to make sure we understand the workflow needs and the people’s challenges and pain points where we can make improvements. And we’re looking forward to bringing more great products for the Mac Pro, but the memory was a shoo-in. We are glad we got that tested well before the machine was shipped, and we didn’t ship our memory till we had our own Mac Pros just to make sure everything was still the same. And it’s a server platform.
We weren’t too worried. But I do know that while our memory out of the gate is work-perfect for folks that we’ve upgraded already. I’m really glad to see the adoption of this machine, but we literally have updated now thousands of their systems with OWC memory. And where that worked great, we all sort from a lot of customers. They got lists in place, and they got listed as sources that are just flipping memory. I hate to put it that way, but that’s what they’re doing. Don’t have the machines, aren’t in the certifications, aren’t making sure their stuff is perfectly correct for what Apple requires. Not just a general specification, because not all memories are the same, there are a lot of problems out there with some of this other stuff. So for me, just be penny-wise, and pound-short is something you certainly want to avoid. We absolutely understand who’s using these machines, and we make it 100% certain that you can count on what we ship.
Absolutely. Well, I’m telling people that Apple has a credit card that you can apply for that you can use to loan yourself the money to pay for your Mac Pro, and then take the cash you would have spent and bought the OWC add ons. Because I just think you’re getting a much better machine. I love the new Mac Pro. I think it’s just good news that Apple came out with it. The other thing is, if you have a business account, you can save a certain percentage on purchasing these machines. And if you use your Apple credit card, you get another 3% off. So there are some good deals for people, and I think Adorama for a while was running 500 off these machines. So check it out. I don’t know if their sale is still going. But when you go into Apple to look at your Mac Pro, talk to your rep.
There’s a reason he’s asking you what monitor you’re going to use, which I found out from Larry O’Connor. Thank you, Larry. I was wondering why they asked what monitor are you going to be using, and I’m thinking, wait a minute, I’m spending all this money on a Mac Pro, just hold off for a second on the monitor. But now I understand why they’re asking that question. So this is valuable information. Let’s move on for a moment and talk about the pipeline for technology companies dealing with China. Can you explain to people how much of your product is made in the USA, how much of it is assembled in China and what the company is doing to hedge against potential problems down the line? Because it is going to be a problem and as you mentioned before, a lot of companies are going to be raising their prices. Some of them are illegally taking advantage of the situation, and definitely not in OWC’s case. So can you talk to us for a moment about China?
Sure. Before the virus became a factor, I just want to look at some degree of memory production. It’s been kind of a perfect storm with Toshiba and Samsung. Both are experiencing random issues. There’s a little power outage, for us the light flicker and maybe UPS buzzes. A major production line required and impact things were significant recalibrations required. They can take just a momentary, unexpected, unplanned power blip, can bring those lines literally down for a couple of weeks while they recalibrate, there are certain parts of the line. Toshiba has to take its line down earlier this year because of, actually during CES. They had a minor fire in a factory, and it wasn’t a part of their line. But these things, again, everything has to be shut down. The fire caused evacuation, and then you’re gonna bring things back up again. If you don’t, they’ll just flip a switch, and suddenly the flash is being produced. So those sorts of things are going on.
Now we also have a transition from TLC to QLC, and that’s a whole other fun area, I’d like to touch base real briefly on that. Now, there’s really two kinds of flash out there today. There’s cheap stuff, and there’s fast stuff. I would argue that our stuff is fast and very competitive. But in terms of what you see now, there are lots of inexpensive drives in the marketplace today, which is great, but a lot of them they get their factory with everything that’s gotten there by either limiting their caching with the faster TLC or they move to QLC, which is super, super slow. And these drives your seal and benchmarks for short bursts, and their show performance is pretty much in line with the stuff at the top of the game with our brand product. But any kind of sustained run that in some cases, it may only be 1 or 2% of their drive capacity. So on a 2TB drive, you might have four or 5GB of that capacity that can be written at full speed after that. So you can literally drop from over 2000megs a second, to less than 100mb a second, with QLC. Now it’s always going to be fast for consumers, using normal productivity applications. First off, you’re probably not gonna exceed that cache that buffer point. And even if you do, you’re doing a lot of small transactions. It’s still better than a hard drive. The hard drive can do 300 megs a second or 250 megs a second, which is more realistic with what a lot of hard drives do today, a flash drive sustaining 100 MB a second, with small transactions, aka a small write for hard drives.
So I have a limited number of […] that bring the real performance down to a few megabytes a second, but you still have a benefit. But for anybody doing video editing, music, anything that’s write-intensive QLC, the specs that you can put out there look great because they look pretty much like any other drive. But once you do any kind of durability, any long term duration work on them, the performance becomes honestly unbearable compared to modern drive. They have an NVMe drive or a Thunderbolt drive, when you look at some of the […] charts, some of these guys go off the charts, but not to the extreme you want. They’re almost unmeasurable, and they’re so slow compared to everything else when they’re actually put into a real-world workflow requirement. But we do have a transition to QLC. It’s a less expensive flash, the way to buffer it. So you pay for the drive, more or less full speed before it slows down. Still, ultimately they’re great for read-intensive purposes and consumer applications. There’s such a demand for flash. You can have QLC for a lower cost, bring the wafers up. The yields potentially are higher, where there’s a lot of transition.
So we have all the interruptions to production, we have growing demand of flash because flash got really cheap last year, we actually fell substantially and from the beginning of 2019, till through the end of 2019, even where we are now back up about 25% versus where the lows are. And that’s already the end of the marketplace, and we’re still a very inexpensive relative where we started last year. So the demand issues related to the QLC transition, we have real demand still on the mature high-performance TLC flash types. All these folks that want to be able to do high-speed editing want to have high performance for game capture. They’re streaming. They’re recording video. All sorts of different things require flashes fast. So that’s a pretty crunch on it.
And then we get to China which just came out, that was a whole new kind of threat to this whole supply chain. You already got the demand, you already got prices up even without Coronavirus, about 25%. And then you have this non-impacting because you have little done in China. That’s something Korea, Malaysia, and other countries and we have, like Micron, Toshiba, Japan, that’s primarily outside of China, but a lot of the wafer is still made in China. The PCBs are made and exported from China, and Coronavirus was not so much an issue. The companies that supply these effective raw materials required for these manufacturing outputs, now they’re noting threats to their quarter two and quarter three, supply chain and ability to keep supplying at the levels that they had been maintaining. So that’s something that even if everything went perfectly transitioned, and they got the production flows balanced out with demand before the virus. It looked like this year it went up, and it was looking pretty flat for the year with the virus now. And one side has reduced consumption because manufacturing outputs have gone down from consumers in the flash, but you also have impacted the supply side to continue flash production, which limits output later this year.
So there are enough things to make a relatively flat year. The most probable at this point looks pretty flat for the year for the highest in terms of the higher performance flash. I’d say the next size probably would be a more increase with supply in a less, far smaller, probably a price drop, and if it is again, something that is $400 now maybe it’s back to around 300 or 350 later this year. The benefit of having that flash when you need it, I don’t think it’s worth long-term to try to wait out for better pricing, even the sales for me that they had before the supply crunch. Our product at 8TB was $1599, and we’re this firm doing everything we can to keep it under $2000. But I would argue that the benefit you get if you need 8TB of flash today for $400 more, even if that price was back to $1599 in six months. I think not having that for six months is going to cost you more than the $400, and I don’t believe we’re going to go back there quickly.
Would it be possible to move your production to another country?
OWC manufacturers very little in China. The majority and especially since the tariffs started. What was still being done in China, a lot of that’s been moved. If we weren’t doing it here, then we weren’t doing it in North America, period. I mean, a lot of us moved to Taipei and other places where that can be supported with the same QC and production. Quality control is one of the biggest risks in moving existing production lines is making sure that whereas moved to have the capability and the skill set to still do it right. I accept the challenge.
Let’s talk about Samsung manufacturing with all that has been done in Korea, but they insist on raw materials that come out of China, they’re still different. The finished product that still has a base in China isn’t going to be quickly replaced. It’s like back in 2011 when the floods in Thailand, there was a huge dependency on Thailand for many hard drive activators that was a huge amount. They have a main manufacturing facility there because the supply chain was there. And what happened when they got flooded out all those places couldn’t produce. It took a while to diversify and have other places that could meet the required demands. So it’s not an overnight kind of gig. And in the case of Thailand, the floods receded, they got their facilities back, and yet the past six, seven months later, supply came back online.
This is a little bit different, another huge one built in China for companies, just about every company, quite frankly. The majority of just the raw PCBs, the boards that now do all of our componentry, whether it’s Apple, HP, you name it, they probably build a PCB over there. Heck, these guys build refrigerators and washing machines. I mean, those all have printed circuit boards, those PCBs, printed circuit boards, the vast majority come out of China and they’re definitely impacts. Even brass, we had a regular scheduled production for our Aura line, and fortunately, we stock pretty well. We like to have a safety buffer. But now the stuff that we’re supposed to ship before Chinese New Year, because of the virus it was produced, but it got hung up, it couldn’t move quick enough to get out the door and get into the air. I mean they air these things, and PCBs don’t weigh very much. It got delayed several weeks because of the virus, and our production on one of our most popular products was on hold for a little over a month. And that shouldn’t have happened. But specifically affected are Aura, which are the upgrade line for the MacBook Pros and Mac Pro 2013 and Mac minis and iMacs now. Our little RSSD upgrade for the Macs of 2012 that was impacted. For the most part, again, we have a good safety buffer in supply but with our capacity. We’re going to have shortages for the next couple of weeks while we catch up, and that was something we’d like to plan ahead. When you’re more hand to mouth a lot of companies really lean manufacturing, you can plan for a lot of things. It was pretty hard to predict that this virus would come out of thin air plus right before Chinese New Year, which is the worst time impact and the worst time to spread. The human tragedy to this is pretty serious. Words can’t even express, but there was about the exit from economical production, the absolute worst time for that virus to emerge.
I think this is gonna ricochet all over the world. How many countries does OWC work in, and how long have you been in business now?
We’re over 31 years, technically 32nd year. We have operations in China and have a team that’s in […] who are all healthy and safe, and that’s really good. And then Taiwan and then we have Europe, but we’re based in Belgium. Yeah, we shipped about 180 countries last year.
The bottom line is what you see is what you get, and you get what you pay for. So you have a wonderful day. Thank you for taking the time out of a really busy life to do this for our listeners. And thanks again for supporting OWC Radio, tell them where you want them to go to learn more.
There you go. Go there, do that, check it out. And remember what I always tell you, get up off your chairs and go do something wonderful today. Take care, and thanks for listening.
- Larry O’Connor
- Other World Computing
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- Ensure your machine’s performance can handle some heavy lifting when you’re moving massive amounts of data.
- Thoroughly check the quality of the products you buy, especially if it’s an investment. Not only will it ensure huge savings, you’re also securing your hardware’s condition.
- Check the compatibility of your Apple machine before upgrading your memory. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to make sure what you purchase will not negatively affect your machine.
- Invest in equipment that is built to last. High-quality doesn’t mean it has to be extremely expensive. There’s a wide range of quality products in a lower price range.
- Use your internal factory drive to support your OS and potential applications. It’s recommended to store everything else on an external hard drive.
- Upgrade your memory for a faster-running computer, especially if you need to utilize RAM-heavy software such as editing apps.
- When buying an SSD, it’s not necessary to use trim since it’s more advisable to purchase an OWC SSD.
- Understand what your machine’s workflow requirements are. A lot of computers can be modified, but be careful when choosing parts and external devices.
- Perform a routine maintenance check to make sure your machine is always in top shape.
- Check out macsales.com for quality Mac gear and expert support.
If you work in tech and haven’t heard about MacSales.com, you’ve had your head in the sand. Other World Computing, under the leadership of Larry O’Connor since he was 15 years old, has expanded to all corners of the world and works every day to create hardware that makes the lives of creatives and business-oriented companies faster, more efficient and more stable. Go to OWCDigital.com for more information.
Here’s the company’s official mission statement:
At OWC, we’re committed to constant innovation, exemplary customer service, and American design.
For more than 25 Years, OWC has had a simple goal. To create innovative DIY solutions to give you the most from your technology.
Beginning with 100% compatible memory upgrades, reliably exceeding Apple’s maximum RAM specs, OWC’s product offering has grown to encompass the entire spectrum of upgrade and expansion possibilities, all with a focus on easy, DIY setup and installation.
Our dedication to excellence and sustainable innovation extends beyond our day-to-day business and into the community. We strive for zero waste, both environmentally and strategically. Our outlook is to the long term, and in everything we do, we look for simplicity in action and sustainability in practice.
For us, it’s as much about building exceptional relationships, as it is about building exceptional products.