A quick update

Patrick

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Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
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Perhaps this is a precursor to the 2021 Q1 letter, but just giving a glimpse of behind-the-scenes.

Content
Doing content for STH this quarter has been extremely challenging. In Q4 we started seeing companies shift desires to get Cascade Lake/ Rome servers reviewed. These reviews take weeks so Q1 is slow. I do not want to discuss dates, but AMD said Q1 2021 and we are halfway through the quarter which should give some sense of the launch window. TinyMiniMicro was started in the early summer of 2020 to have content when we were planning for Milan/ Ice Q4 2020 public launches. It is not just the mainstream server space, Xeon D/ EPYC 3000/ Atom C3000 are all getting older so there are fewer new platforms launching. We have also expanded on networking and SSDs just to help bridge the gap.

In Silicon Valley, we are still largely under shut down. So getting out into the area and doing lab visits and such is out.

What I have been doing is working on getting a few interesting bits on the server-side that have little coverage. I just mentioned Cooper Lake in a post earlier. It took until late Q4 2020 to get a system and the CPUs arrived earlier this month. I have been working on it since the Supermicro system piece we recorded just before the official launch in June 2020. Eight months for a project is a long time.

Also, expect a series on Threadripper Pro, we are going to work on those since I expect channel availability before Milan, but I may be wrong.

Video
This is something I believe we need to do for the site. The audiences on YouTube and the STH main site are largely independent so I want to simply reach more people.

One of the biggest challenges has been increasing cadence. Earlier last year it was a struggle to do five articles that had an accompanying video.

I have been investing a lot personally into this and we now can do ~10 videos/ month. I am trying to pick interesting topics and you see I will often do videos that are on products I do not do the STH main site review for. I would love to do videos for every server review, but it is hard to support time-wise.

The average server review, once I have, or think I have, all of the test data, photos, and screenshots is now in the 4000-6000 word range. Generally, these take around 8 hours to assemble into what goes on the STH main site. Some are a bit more, some are a bit less.

Doing video adds capturing b-roll, prep for the talking part, talking head capture, editing, and publishing (there are even small bits such as filling out YouTube descriptions/ adding timestamps that have to be done.) Assuming we have the photos and test data from the main site review, this is usually another 8+ hours of work.

Frankly, until I can get folks on-site to handle the video production process we are limited in what we can do.

I do have an awesome series we are going to run that is totally different, likely unexpected, but that we started working on in November and hopefully will have the first installment live in the next two weeks.

Growth wise, video is growing at a (much) faster rate than the ~25% Y/Y the STH main site grows, but with 47.8K subs, it is still a small single-digit amount of overall STH content views. We started with under 10,000 subs on Jan 1, 2020, and are on pace to hit 50K by mid-March. Video views are now 8-10x what they were in Jan 2020. If the STH main site did a 4x-10x in 15 months we would be more around Anandtech's size by mid-2023. Our coverage area is much more narrow so that is not realistic.

I know I take a lot of heat for doing video and not just focusing on web content. Frankly, I am very happy I did this since it has been a point of growth. 2020 was effectively a year where we had no new server platform launches which limits how much content we can make (new servers and chips mean new products for us to review.) Keeping up the web growth rate and finding a supplemental growth area during what I had planned to be a down year is awesome.

Wrap-up
You will likely see some version of this in the Q1 letter from the editor, but I wanted folks on the STH forums to get a bit more insight into what is going on behind the scenes.