OWC’s Founder, Larry O’Connor, Enthusiastic About Their Latest Gear at CES

Host, Cirina Catania, catches up OWC’s owner, Larry O’Connor, at CES 2020. The resulting conversation will come at you fast and furious.

Whether you’re an advanced home user or you manage a high-end studio, this podcast gives you an essential overview of this year’s latest upgrades and advancements from Other World Computing that will take you to the next level!

Do you want better storage?

Need serious expanded Mac Pro memory options? Larry tells you what to look for and what to avoid and dives deep. Hint: You don’t need to spend $2000 for memory!

He answers questions about NVME’s, SSD’s, PCIE, SATA, eGPU, Helios, the new Flex 8 for your studio, Akitio, Thunderbay, Envoy, and ThunderBlade, among other solutions currently offered at macsales.com.

Take your gear on the road? Larry tells you why you shouldn’t leave your home (studio) this year without a Travel Doc.

Buckle up and get ready to take notes because this episode of OWC Radio is 37 minutes of non-stop tech talk!

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:

  • 00:08 – Cirina introduces Larry O’Connor, founder and chief executive officer of OWC.
  • 03:45 – Larry shares the OWC ThunderBay 8, replacing the OWC ThunderBay 6.
  • 06:01 – Larry explains how NVMe works to enhance your machine’s speed.
  • 09:20 – What are the risks of handling your memory modules poorly? And, how to avoid them.
  • 11:59 – Larry talks about the OWC ThunderBlade, and how studios are their number one customer for that product.
  • 14:42 – Larry tells the story of how the OWC Envoy Pro EX is so robust that a race car team tested its capacity by beating up the casing and the media still played correctly
  • 20:09 – What are the things you need to consider in purchasing a travel dock?
  • 24:00 – How OWC provides solutions for both Mac and PC users.
  • 28:16 – How to move from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 and get the maximum potential of what they offer.
  • 32:35 – Larry elaborates how the Mercury Elite Pro Dock is the do-it-all tool that will organize your digital life

Jump to Links & Resources


This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I’m in Las Vegas at CES, one of the largest conventions every year sponsored by Consumer Technology Association, and there’s no way that I would go to CES and not at least visit the OWC booth, the Renaissance. So I got a chance to pull the owner of the company Larry O’Connor aside and ask him what’s under the hood of all these wonderful things I see here. 

Sure. Well, I mean, in a nutshell, it’s all fast, it’s all purposeful, it’ll all work really well, and it’ll make your Mac or PC’s workflow and everything smooth and efficient. Across the board, if I have to just pick a couple of items that are super important that we’ve got here at the show today, the new Accelsior 4M2 for the Mac Pro 2019, a huge game-changer in my opinion for that product. I mean, the Apple Mac Pro is really taking off strongly based on customer interest and just the amount of sheer volume of the product they’re shipping. The 4M2 cost is substantially less than the Apple factory flash, and it gives you the opportunity to transfer it between machines. So if you need to move it to another system, it is not soldered inside or not those two blades that really don’t work anyplace else. And it’s also over twice as fast as the factory SSD, exceptionally high performance. You put multiple cards inside the software monitors and is actually the only application that enables TRIM on external and PCIe connected SSDS, which is really important at high speed. Otherwise, you’d get inconsistent data rates and other little problems and glitches that you just don’t want in the Pro machine, but 4M2 delivers it all high performance and all that. And the magic of SoftRAID, TRIM, and data management data monitoring and drive monitoring don’t come on anyplace else.

The 4M2 cost is substantially less than the Apple factory flash, and it gives you the opportunity to transfer it between machines. Click To Tweet

We were talking about TRIM four or five years ago, remember? Can you tell people who might not know why that’s important?

I consider TRIM a crutch. For others the processors use the software side to help manage, for lack of a better term, garbage management block allocation, watch and free the drive and clears the drive but make sure that the OS knows what’s available where effectively logically, it should be able to write to and going back into. Actually, a SATA drive, truthfully, really isn’t all that important with modern processors and certainly the processors we always use. Apple historically has not supported TRIM on third party anything, and as a result of that, in the beginning, Apple’s first systems with SSDs, Apple has TRIM support on them. Our very first drive for the Mac was built specifically to not require TRIM for the data management to maintain this treated situation where if you bought a drive that didn’t have TRIM, three-six months down the road, sometimes a lot less time, it’d be slower than a hard drive. When you build drives that don’t depend upon TRIM for their operation, our drives never slow down, and we still need TRIM on our two and a half inches. Technically, we don’t need TRIM on our NVMes either. But when you get to the really, really high speeds, at that point, you just don’t have the horsepower and an SSD processor when you’re doing 15000-2000 megabytes a second on a blade on the right side to keep up with the data management requirements. The driver can do it without TRIM, but these speeds, in the real world where you’re pounding that drive without a break, without a pause, you want to truly keep that drive and return that crutch.

Drivers can perform well without TRIM. But, in the real world, when you're pounding that drive without any breaks, TRIM can serve as your crutch. Click To Tweet

Talk to me about the ThunderBay 8 to have two versions of it. That looks really exciting.

And I want to talk about another Thunderbolt 3 product too. The ThunderBay 8 is replacing the ThunderBay 6, and the 6 is going to go away. So we’ll have 4-bay solutions, and then we’ll go straight up to 8-bay. The 8-bay gives considerably more performance than our 6-bay, it can go up to about 2000mb a second with SSDs. It hits comfortably 1500-1600mb a second with the right hard drives, up to 128TB of storage all in a nice simple Thunderbolt 3 plug and play solution that works on any Mac or PC, and now with SoftRAID. SoftRAID, it ships for the Mac as it has for two decades, and now SoftRAID for PC is shipping. So you can take that ThunderBay 8, take any of our ThunderBays for that matter with SoftRAID and plug them into the PC and have instant access to the data go back and forth between Mac and PC, start on the PC move to Macs, or a Mac move to a PC which, we’re certainly a Mac company, but we’re also a PC company. And we know a lot of folks who work in mixed environments where some of the work is done at a PC, some of them at a Mac, and this makes sure that you’ve got that data bridge to wherever whenever whatever platform you need on, so that’s huge. And then the Flex 8 that’s going to revolutionize DIT in general and the whole post-production process in terms of where that fits into the program. Now we’ve got a solution with 8-bays which can support up to eight SAS or SATA drive, and then for those bays which also can support U.2 drives. The U.2 NVMe SSDs, they also support a 3 ½ inch set technically. At this point, any of the major drive formats are completely interchangeable; you don’t need to configure, the bays are ready out of the box and pairing that up with something like your Helios 3S with our interchange system because something down the field these folks are using U.2s and they can use U.2s through our 3S. A nice base rugged, safe place to put your data instead of an SSD, this is also high speed because you don’t want to walk around with little NVMe sticks. 

Explain to people who don’t know what NVMe is, if you don’t mind. 

There’s really three. I mean, I guess you could say four. Okay, hit them all.

You know me, I like to geek out a little bit.

Totally, you got the standard SATA SSDs which connect with anything with a standard SATA port, you’ve got SAS SSDs, which is what the Macs have. SAS port, a little more regular, more command sets. Higher speed prevents you up to double the speed with SAS, then you get into PCIe, and the first PCIe SSDs were ACI and interchange and between them and the PCIe bus basically switch, almost don’t need a necessary detail. But then they hit the really high speeds because they had bottlenecks and you really weren’t native, you’re on a PCIe bus, but you were switched, there’s interfacing between the drive in the system. NVMe effectively takes down a lot of the complexity of the interface between the computer and the actual flash and is the fastest way. It’s PCIe direct effectively interface between that NAND and a NAND controller in your computer, and NVMe drives, a SATA drive, those typically top out in the 500mb per second range. NVMe is limited to the PCIe bus speed, but today, you get the fiber maxes on SSD and SATA, NVMe, and your 3000-4000mbps per plate. Now, none of the plates out there sustain that across in the end, but they get back to like the Accelsior. When you put four of those ways together with management and end to end, you do get 6500 megabytes a second sustained data rate across four of those drives, so higher speed PCIe direct and then the overheads, whether it’s a standard interface or HCI, very efficient interface from the NAND straight into the processor bus.

So talk to me a little bit more about the Helios.

Getting back to the Helios and U.2, obviously, blades are a little fragile, I mean, just handling. We’ve gone through a lot of redesigns ourselves over the years because people look at a blade there for memory chips, memory modules, DIMS, or whatnot. And they treat their SSDs the same way. The memory can take abuse, and SSDs are a lot more sensitive to handling than a memory module. 

Yeah, when they go, they go. 

When they go, they go, and you’ll just touch it and move it a little bit around. Memory modules are pretty tolerant in this stuff, probably not going to lose a memory monitor unless you knock a resistor off or crack a cap on it. But the SSD, because there are far more connections under each of those chips, it doesn’t take a lot of handling. To cause something a little crack in one of those ball joints, and then things heat up and go down, and that’s when bad things happen. But, we’ve done a lot in general just for our consumer products, make sure that the handling of the products, they’re not gonna break the product, so we do really ask people, in general, to take care of any electronics product. We went to a store with the people who are supposed to know about this stuff, and they’re looking at the driver, they were flexing it at us. They probably just broke that drive. I mean, he can’t do a half-inch flex. 

Oh, no kidding.

That’s a crack thing.

I’m not even gonna ask you who was doing that? That was pretty dumb.

It has happened to me. Memory modules tend to be a little thicker, unfortunately, just used to treating things apparently poorly. It’s not like the 80s where if you did that in the 80s, you did destroy it. People over the course get more and more upgrades. We got the DIMMS, and I’m getting way off tangent, but…

No, I love this stuff. You know me, I like talking about this.

Cool. But it all kind of rolls into U.2. U.2 gives you additional protection so that you’re using our interchange system and not the context too much. First of those is designed to go into rack servers. They’re not really a swappable solution, but it’s a perfect medium compared to getting NVMes rugged, everything’s protected inside, it’s not something like an NVMe blade that you’re at risk of us pulling it out and transporting that somewhere. It is very transportable in our U.2 interchange system. Now we’re in a carrier because it further protects, certainly aware on the connector side. And the field here you have the Helium 3S, and using this to capture data, you can throw those into a FedEx almost frighteningly into a bad example, certainly something with pretty minimal packaging that is going into your production team. And now you slide it into our Flex 8 and boom you’ve got that data. And then the Flex 8 makes it between management software and just storage availability makes it very easy at that point to get it into a platform where you can duplicate it, have your backups have all your copies made and do real high speed editing all at the same time. The Flex 8, in addition to all the space, is very customizable there are PCIe slots inside, you can do SoftRAID if you insist you can harbor RAID. Other peripheral expansion inside the chassis, in addition to the ports it has, so you can still use high-speed media with PCI Express media cards, the CFExpress media insert. So all the high-end stuff you need to do, this chassis has. You could be a very high-end enthusiast at home that wants it all and wants to play with everything or truly a professional that needs to be able to take everything if somebody’s going to throw at them, and it’s ready to accept.

I think the demands on content providers are increasing exponentially. I mean, there’s a lot of pressure on us to deliver bigger and better all the time, bigger, better, and faster. And so looking at what you have over there, what have we not talked about that you’ve got over there? What’s happening with your ThunderBlade?

ThunderBlade is still cranking full speed ahead.

Still moving. That’s a great piece of machinery.

People love that product, and the cost has come way down. The studios are our number one customer for that product. I mean, it is used very widely in that I say the whole, whether ingest, is in production. But it is a way that they very quickly capture data, duplicate data, move that around. Quite frankly, nothing like that out there, in my opinion. You may have a different view, but nothing, in my opinion, moves data like that better, faster, more efficiently. And this year ThunderBlade will go from 8TB up to 16TB.

Portability is a huge factor in the media world. Suppose you’re going from the studio to the field and back again. Being able to trust you’re going to get it from place to place safely is really important.


Not soon enough. It’ll be later, but I mean, it is coming, and it will come. Another real customer base is billing for it, or normal home users, home business folks who are buying these systems. So it’ll turn into spending a lot of money on an internal SSD, which no one can go anywhere. If you switch Macs or PCs, it’s stuck in that machine. You pay a lot of money potentially for something that’s going to be limited to just that machine. If something happens to that machine, a year or two to three years out of warranty, and you pay for a 4TB drive, it’s soldered inside that Mac. If it goes, there’s nothing to recover, and it’s gone. Whereas as opposed to the ThunderBlade, now you have stores that are just as fast as those internal storage that you’re getting. These systems that you can easily alias and use, you can even use it as your boot drive if you want to, but Apple has made that more and more difficult, unfortunately. But more importantly, you can put your photo you can offside your photo libraries, which I think is important for editing, video, whatever data storage you need, you want to go our SSD, you make it very easy to connect this externally to any Mac or PC and then when you do want to move on to a new system don’t buy that again and start all over. Just unplug it and move it on to the next machine, and your data is right there ready to go.

Yeah, I think 16TB with a ThunderBlade is really good news. I like the portability of it. Suppose you’re going from the studio field and back again, being able to trust that you’re going to get it from place to place safely, that’s really important.

You can pretty much run that ThunderBlade over.

I wouldn’t want to try, though, because I love it too much. 

I mean, if accidents happen, the bottom line is, it’s definitely built to take a lot of abuse.

Isn’t that the one you had at NAB?

Oh, those are just our Elite Pros they landed on.

That’s a great machine too.

Absolutely. And we actually showed a video of our Envoy Pro EX. One of the racing teams uses the EXs in the field to capture the racing footage, and they asked if they could destroy one, and we gave them one. And they took it out into the track, and they beat the crap out of it. And they finally did bring to a point where it wouldn’t work anymore. They didn’t peel out on it; they just shredded the back of it. The connection point was toasted, but the best part was after all this abuse, they finally got to a point where they plugged it in and would mount, the data inside was still fine.

Oh my god.

You pretty much have to put this into some sort of compact and you have to crutch this thing, somebody can run over the damn thing and what’s inside is going to be protected so even in the worst case after we got to go ahead and kind of crack the case. The case is pretty well jammed up good, but everything inside was safe, the data was safe inside. They did bring that product to its end, but guess what, the data was still safe. Here we go plug it in, and we’re back online.

Well, OWC Radio lives on an Envoy Pro EX. Obviously, we move on to the other RAIDs when we’re not using it. But it travels with me all over the world, and that’s what we record to. So everything from OWC Radio that’s current is on Envoy Pro EX.

That is built for super high speed, waterproof dustproof. I mean these are things built for travel. I can say this carefully, but we don’t build things that we call rugged and just because they look rugged. 

They’re not really rugged. 

Yes, we build products that are actually rugged. I think that’s kind of important. And there are actually two other products that I’m touching because I know time is running out but two also products that are here are our Travel Dock, which I’ve been raving about at our Travel Docks since the very beginning. When you have everything else you need from us, this is the kind you get when you’re on the road. It really is priceless. I perceive now that I finally moved on to the Thunderbolt 3 machine. I’ve been using our Travel Dock literally around the world, and it’s something that is reliable. We test the crap out of everything, and we know this stuff works. The first time I had to use one in the real world, not just playing with it on someone else’s computer because I can’t hold on to my retina for a very long time. The 16 inch Apple which has a few bugs in it. That convinced me to move on. I hate the Touch Bar.

You do get used to it after a while. I didn’t even like it at first, but you kind of do get used to it. 

We were on vacation a little a couple of days away over Christmas, and I thought when everybody else is asleep, I try to get some stuff done. I turn Siri off, but they have a Siri key so you can touch it, and then you can actually touch it again and turn Siri back on.

Oh, no. And that’s waking people up.

All of a sudden, she is saying, “Who would you like to FaceTime?” Because somehow, the FaceTime button is over there too. I know there’s an app, but I haven’t, I will be putting that app on it to take control of my test bar.

Do you want to hear the most embarrassing Siri moment I’ve ever had? In the middle of a huge room at NAB, Woz was giving a talk, and he’s up on stage. And I don’t even know what triggered it. I had my phone, and it was on mute. All of a sudden, in the middle of nowhere, Siri says, “I’m sorry, I don’t get it,” and the entire room burst into laughter. I mean, I thought I was gonna die. Siri comes out of nowhere sometimes.

Clearly, she was listening.

She was listening. She didn’t get it. And the Travel Dock, I love what you did with winding the cord underneath. That’s really huge for me, because I know we’ve had this discussion about cords. I’m a little OCD with my cords, and I like that I can put it inside. Whatever I’m using to carry my computer and I always worry about breaking the edge. I did worry about that with the little Envoy Pro because the cord sticks out. But it’s very solid.

To say the Envoy Pro has the type-C has a connection. 

Oh, that’s awesome. 

No embedded cable, and they actually had to demonstrate it like having that little wrapper on under. It’s clean. The most important thing was the first time that I had to use it on the road. So display there were HDMI, keyboard, and mouse, everything plugged right in, and everything just works. And Ars Technica, of course, just recently called it 2019 Best Dock, best travel and best portable dock of 2019. Like I love the Travel Dock, to me, it’s one of these products made whether it’s a boeing product or something that is all the way up at the top. We build things to be the best that they can. It was really great seeing Ars Technica, among other places, but Ars Technica specifically calls that the best portable dock of the year and they said it, because number one there’s a lot of things that go through those docks over the stupid hubs and even the things that were docks. The performance was much lower, and most of them, even though they should because they call themselves a dock, don’t have that power pass through. We give you those ports, and we don’t take away your port in terms of being able to still do the hundred-watt charging right through it—big stuff. And most importantly, it works more than so much stuff does out there.

Yeah, when I was in DC, there was an educator in the room who was very interested in the travel dock. And he was looking at a dock from another company. And I went, and I was looking at the specs. Yes, it had one more port or something in it, I said, “You’ve got to check the power. You have to check the power and see what that thing does.” And so we’re working on answering those questions for him, and he’s gonna find it doesn’t even compare. It’s less money for a reason. And the Travel Dock is not expensive.

No, it’s very reasonable.

It is very reasonable. Talk about the importance of an eGPU.

The eGPU in terms of the Mac platform, especially since we really don’t have the option that the video card or the video chipsets. Before every Mac with a couple of exceptions is soldered, there are ways, but we will talk about what we can do to an eGPU. But there are things you can google out there anyway. But on the newer Macs, I mean, you got processors that are great, really, for the last couple years. For most people, the processors from a couple of years ago are fine. You got what you need to do the work, what you really need is the GPU technology, and eGPU now gives you the ability to continue to keep up with new GPU chipsets technology by just simply plugging our chassis and in the card. And another year from now, two years, three years from now there’s a GPU that does it better, faster, has a new codec, whatever it may be put a little card out, put a new one in or better yet certain applications, like from Adobe support multiple GPUs. So you could even potentially buy another chassis, you still have the horsepower that that GPU gives you and plug another one in. You don’t have to replace the machine. You can have a great machine that serves a purpose for whatever you need the server for, quite frankly, and then you crank on the eGPU, and they turn into a real workstation. And for a laptop, I mean, that means you have a laptop that is a great laptop for would be basically your high-end needs on the road. And you get back to the office, get back to the house, get back to the studio, you can plug into our dock, plug it into our eGPU, and you build the workstation with just a couple cables plugging in.

That’s awesome. And the Mac Pro has been actually very good to you because you have some memory that is wonderful for the Mac Pro. Can you talk about that a minute? Because I know that when I get mine, I’m gonna get OWC memory.

We were very early to release and support memory on the Mac Pro, the benefit of making sure our product work before those Mac pros are out there. And of course, even ongoing like everything we ship, all the memory, we have those Mac Pro 2019, and now they’re a big investment. We have those in the house, and we test what we ship because we know the kind of customers we have. It’s not a matter in terms of being worried about the quality of the product. It’s simply a matter of there’s lots of programming details that make it correct for that platform, and it’s worth the triple check. Some people are spending literally $20,000 to upgrade those Mac Pros just with the memory, and it’s going to be perfect if you get it from OWC. What’s funny is one of the sites that covered us, and they cover someplace I’d never heard of before selling Mac memory. And quite frankly, we shouldn’t have heard of them selling Mac memory because I know a lot of that stuff already written out there that doesn’t work. You really shouldn’t be in the space if you don’t have the Macs and the experience with the systems. Some people have just specs, that’s all, and then they say the same memory description doesn’t mean that it’s the same memory. And whoever you buy from, you definitely want to buy from somebody who knows this platform, knows Mac, and knows PC, and I mean those memories in general. Just because you can offer something they throw, the right specification doesn’t mean it’s gonna work right in your system, and these things cost too much to take those chances.

Every item, no matter how assured we are of its quality, deserves a triple check.

Right. You want them to work, and you want them to be reliable, you want to be able to trust them. So you’re getting more and more into the PC space a little bit, right?

Well, we’ve always supported the PC space, and now we’re really trying to make a push. I mean, quite frankly, it’s good for our Mac customers that we have more of these units out there and more people that can benefit from our product the better. Who knows, maybe it brings people over from PC over to the Mac. Unfortunately, I know that there have been people moving from Mac to PC, and I do hope the 2019 Mac Pro helps save that.

I think it will, but a lot of the gamers are still using PCs.

And the gamers don’t want a machine that they can’t do anything to.

Well, I think that many of the solutions you’re offering can bring some of those gamers back to Mac, don’t you think?

It helps. What you can do with an eGPU, the benefits of gaming there are tremendous. 


Some really good video cards. So I would absolutely agree with you that the future is certainly brighter.

Well, in your foray into when you purchased a […] that’s gonna help with all of that too, right?

If they have a pretty good gamer following, we’re already doing GPU but now with the […] and the little broader lineup focus there. We’re bringing us some pretty hot stuff, I don’t get into the gaming space all that much, but I do know that Titan is hot stuff for gaming and it’s hot stuff with a Mac user or a PC user. Cool things, again, a lot of those games are very GPU dependent. The processor is important. A Mac Mini has a great processor. It just didn’t have a GPU to speak of, but you plug in the Titan with the GPU; it’s now a gamer station. And you can do that with some of the really relatively light notebooks. Especially if you’re a college student and you have a laptop that doesn’t have a lot of horsepower for that extracurricular and then you could get back to the door and just plug in one cable and now it’s a gaming unit. 

That’s awesome.

Buy a nice laptop, and then you just have to buy the nodes so that you can use your games.

Well, if you’re a developer working in the game space, you’ve got some stuff now that’s going to be attractive to those people too. I’m sitting here, and I’m talking to you, Larry, and I’m thinking about you at 14 and 15 and starting your company. And I’m wondering how on earth you’re managing all this. There are so many products over such a wide space now, how many engineers do you have? Because you can’t do everything yourself. You’re running a huge company worldwide, now you got the new offices in Belgium, right?

In Belgium, Taipei, in Guangdong, and of course, we also have software teams in Iowa, Mill Valley, California. Honestly, really good people, an exceptional team that works very well together. And most importantly, we all have the same goals as a culture, which is to put out the absolute best, whether it be hardware software, the best solution period. I’d like our products to be boring in the sense that it’s really exciting in terms of the needs they fill. But once you have that need filled because you’ve plugged in that OWC device, had an OWC upgrade, you forget about it because it’s just working. There’s nothing there to remind you that you’re using it because, ultimately, we’re there to make sure that you can do what you need to be doing. And to do best, you should have to use very little or zero of your bandwidth as hardware, but that 100% of your capability or bandwidth towards the projects you’re working on the productivity that you need to see completed in order to tell the games that give you some downtime.

Apple is always updating firmware, doing EFI updates, making changes every time they do an OS update. Nobody else does that pretty much.

Yeah, absolutely. What are you advising people to do who are moving from Thunderbolt 2 if they have a whole studio based on Thunderbolt 2 and want to move to Thunderbolt 3? Can you give them some advice about what they can do to make that transition work in terms of what you guys have or what you think they should do? I supposed to retire those machines and move to the new one.

Unless you have a need, I mean, it’s really hard to say do it. If you’re getting a benefit from Thunderbolt 3 or you need the performance, you can benefit from that, especially if you have a good stock of OWC hardware. You look at the ThunderBay 4, for example, we have Thunderbolt 3 version and a Thunderbolt 2 version and moving on to Thunderbolt 3, you can buy the Thunderbolt 3 version of that hardware. The drives are in your current Thunderbolt 2 system, a slight amount, but you went to the Thunderbolt 3 unit online without any downtime yet for data transfer. For some of the lower speed products, I see large speed things that aren’t pushing the limits of Thunderbolt 2. Especially hard drives in general, you really don’t get the benefit from going from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 in a chassis. I remember when the Thunderbolt 3 products came out, and we didn’t go down this path, but it was really annoying to see certain competitors advertising Thunderbolt 3 twice as fast as Thunderbolt 2, it is, that’s true, but the solutions that they were providing Thunderbolt 3 on didn’t go any faster than they did versus their Thunderbolt 2 version. So folks that thought instead of spending $50 on an Apple Thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter thought they’re going to get this giant performance boost by buying a brand new solution. We’re very disappointed. OWC is an organization focused on sustainability and longevity of everything, and we don’t ask people to buy things just because we have something new. If you’re making a purchase you should because it’s going to give you a benefit and we’re happy, that’s the thing you get lifetime free tech support with us if they have a question if they’re moving on to Thunderbolt 3, our team is there to help support moving it over. 

Yeah, it’s moving from 3 to 2. If you’ve got male to male, that’s really almost impossible, that’s a whole other discussion. 

No, that’s not true because it has this male Thunderbolt 3 connection on the other side is the Thunderbolt 2 female, so you just plug in your Thunderbolt 2 cable into it.

But if you have a unit that only works Thunderbolt 3 male and you need to go to Thunderbolt 2, does it downgrade? This is off the subject a little bit.

No, we should talk about that. Because this came up today and I actually went back and forth and then got this. The only products that you’re facing that with the most is the Envoy Pro.


But that’s a bus-powered device, and you cannot use a bus-powered, it doesn’t matter whose, you can’t use any bus-powered type-C product. Even if they have their own cable and you plug a different cable in, you cannot use a bus-powered USB type-C device with a Thunderbolt 2 adapter. The solution is if you want to use an Envoy Pro EX and a Thunderbolt 2 machine, that we’re going the other way and I’m talking about moving their studio, if they have a mixed environment and they want to use the Envoy Pro, they want to get that under a Thunderbolt 2 machine. The solution is to have the Apple adapter have something like a ThunderBay 3 or our Thunderbolt 3 dock, via that adapter. Use something that is AC power that gets its power from its own source, because now you can plug in a bus-powered Thunderbolt 3 unit. Thunderbolt 3 requires five more watts than the Thunderbolt 2 does, and on top of that, the adapter doesn’t pass power. The Apple adapter uses that bus power to support itself. So the simple solution for that particular case is to have a Thunderbolt 3 solution that has its own power because any daisy chain port on that now provides the full Thunderbolt 3 spec, and you can use bus power Thunderbolt 3 devices through that device.

That’s awesome. A lot of people have been asking me about that. It’s a surprise it’s becoming a problem. Your new Mercury Elite Pro Dock and you have ports on the back that have different power levels. Can you talk about what those are for? I’m really geeking out on you right now. 

On the PC side, this is pretty standard. You have one port, and it is 15 watts. The other four provide actual full PD power delivery there to go to a laptop and provide higher power, and the other is just a daisy chain port. Intel really didn’t manage and didn’t have the same control to get mass deployment to the PC World. Apple always is updating firmware, doing EFI updates, making changes every time they do an OS update. Pretty much nobody else does that. And the first machines that came to the market with Thunderbolt 3 were PCs, not Macs, and those first units couldn’t handle negotiating power without having a dedicated power port. So in order to be certified for Mac and Windows, because now it’s like the first machines and nobody even cares about, but there are some machines out there, they can’t do it. So there has to be a specified port for the host. So that’s all that that means. Mercury Elite Pro Dock, which we’re working on a new name for, it’s a follow up to our Elite Pro dual-drive solution for Thunderbolt 2. So it gives you the same dual-drive RAID capability of plug and play awesome now up to 32TB of storage, but it also gives you seven dock ports, gives you USB ports, it gives you an ethernet, it gives you a media reader, it gives you video. So it gives you everything normal for pretty much any setup, the ports that most people need all in one place with that storage. So especially for creatives that are using one drive for projects, and want something where they can plug into their laptop and replace all those ports without having to pull out another device. This is the one drive that does it all. And for a price point, we kept it pretty much right where the original Thunderbolt 2 version was, and it didn’t have any of these ports. So I use one myself. I’m super excited about this product, and it’s on my desk. Back at OWC, I did it with hard drives, SSDs, and I clone my system over there. Even though Apple has made things difficult, it’s still very doable, but it’s an awesome product with these storage backups. You can use it for both obviously backup and for additional storage, and we get one cable that charges your laptop plus gives you all those ports that you need. So I walk into the office. I plug my laptop in that one cable, and it’s got my Dell 4K connected up to it. I’ve got my keyboard and my mouse rolling through it. I use some of the ports from my Dell conveniently gives you some more USB ports, but the video I do have a hard line connection.

A lot of folks who work in mixed environments between a Mac and PC, ThunderBay with SoftRAID ensure you've got that data bridge to wherever, whenever, whatever platform you need to use it on. Click To Tweet

It’s awesome.

It is fast.

This is an amazing lineup.

We’re just scratching the surface.

Yeah, well, I wish you good luck with all of it. Thanks for taking the time to do this, and we’re going to talk to you more often, this is OWC Radio. 

Just call me up anytime, literally anytime, I’m happy to do this, it’s always fun.

Yeah, I want to thank OWC for sponsoring OWC Radio, and for those listening, go to owc.com and check it out. If you have any questions, call up customer service, and get really good customer service from OWC.

They use the products, and they know the products. They don’t read from a script.

Absolutely. And I’ve been using the products I can’t even tell you how many years so I can attest to that personally. Thanks again, Larry. Have a wonderful CES, and we’ll talk to you again in probably about a month, I would say.

Sounds great, Cirina, and thank you, Mississippi, big thanks for everything. Everything you do and just keep this cranking


  1. Avoid having inconsistent data rates and other glitches by investing in a high-quality, durable HD, and SSD.  
  2. Manage your garbage management block allocation to free up memory and ensure the longevity of your drives.
  3. Practice TRIM. It is a command that allows an operating system to inform a solid-state drive (SSD) which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally.
  4. Be familiar with the different types of HDDs which are SATA, SAS, PCIe, NVMe. Larry expounds on what each type is used for in the episode. 
  5. Choose HDDs and SSDs that are capable of accomplishing your backups and high-speed editing at the same time.
  6. Consider portability when buying equipment. Sometimes work requires mobilization. It’s convenient to have drives you can carry around with you.
  7. Modify your machine to fit your requirements. Find out which modifications are necessary to invest in.
  8. Invest in an office workstation and a laptop. That lets you  work on your stuff on a higher quality built-in machine and still bring work outside or on the go.
  9. Invest in a perfect dock so you can utilize all your accessories while your workstation stays neat.
  10. Check out OWC’s website to learn more about their docks, HDDs, SDDs, and accessories.

About OWC:

Other World Computing (OWC), owc.com, founded in 1988 by Larry O’Connor when he was only 14 years old, is dedicated to helping tech enthusiasts and industry professionals do more and reach higher. Their trusted storage, connectivity, software, and expansion solutions enable creative professionals, producers, educators, and government entities to get the most out of their technology investments, protect valuable digital assets and expand their hardware’s capabilities to keep up with the demands and evolution of their work. OWC features an award-winning technical support team that is on hand 24/7 as well as an unparalleled library of step-by-step installation and support videos. In everything we do at OWC, we believe in making a better world where technology inspires imagination and everything is possible.

Cirina Catania, Host of OWC RADiO is the Founder and Lead Creative, at The Catania Group and the Co-Founder of the Sundance Film Fest:

Filmmaker Cirina Catania, the Founder and Lead Creative at The Catania Group has been involved as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer or marketing exec on over 130 film, television, and new media projects for the big screen as well as for networks such as National Geographic, Discovery, etc. She is one of the co-founders and former director of the Sundance Film Festival and former senior executive at MGM-UA and United Artists. Cirina lives in San Diego, D.C., and Berlin when she is not on the road filming for her projects or for clients, or speaking as a tech evangelist for companies such as Blackmagic Design and Lumberjack System. For nine years, she was the original “BuZZ Babe” showrunner on the weekly tech podcast, Digital Production BuZZ heard in 195 countries.  Cirina is a member of Local 600 (IATSE), the PGA and the WGA as well as the National Press Club, NPAA, and SPJ. The best way to know more about her is to type her name into your favorite search engine! There you will find all the good stuff. 🙂

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