Coursework Report

Computer Memory Products

The two products chosen for the coursework are the Buffalo DriveStation Axis Velocity (Buffalo, 2013) and the Western Digital My Book Essential (Western Digital, 2013) of which, both are competing external hard drives.

Design priorities and objectives

From the marketing approach both companies have taken, there are four main priorities for the products; storage, size, speed and backup.
With the constant need for more data storage, development of external hard drives has been rapidly progressive, however in the same direction, most products on the market have a storage capacity of 1 – 5 TB, these two products both have a storage capacity of 3 TB. There is a constant trade-off between the storage capacity of a product and the size, as consumers want as much storage as possible, however due to the nature of external hard drives, they must be practically portable too.

The second design priority of both products is the size of module. With the functionality of an external hard drive, they must be portable, from past experience, an external hard drive must not be too big to carry, nor should it be too bulky. Both product shapes are rectangular, allowing them to either be placed on their sides, or upright. The DriveStation is the smaller of the two, having a dimension (width, height, depth) of 1.5 x 4.8 x 7.5 inches, thus a volume of 54 inches square. With the My Book having dimensions of 1.9 x 6.5 x 5.3 inches, resulting in a volume of 65.455 inches square. There is however a slight difference in the dimensions, as you can in attached file "Product Dimensions", the My Book has a trade-off for a smaller depth, but a taller height. Practically this is a better design as this would involve less space on a desk; an inference of this is that Western Technology has designed their product in a way that despite having a larger volume, it consumes less space whilst placed upright. However another factor for portability is the weight of the product, with the My Book being 1.1793Kg and the DriveStation at 0.9525Kg, making it 19.23% lighter than the My Book which is quite significant.

Both products have USB 3.0 capabilities, however as this is a reasonably new technology, introduced in 2008 (Intel, 2009), both products are able to support USB 2.0 as well. The data transfer rate given for each product is the standard USB 3.0/2.0 transfer rate, at 4.8 Gbps for USB 3.0 and 480Mbps for USB 2.0, actual data transfer time is not known, however the DriveStation does have a spindle speed of 7200RPM.
The fourth and final design objective for both products is the provision for backup for PCs, as this is a major use for external hard drives, both products offer software that can be installed onto a computer, enabling backup. The major difference with this aspect for the two products is the facilities that these different software’s provide. The My Book’s software, SmartWare, (Western Digital, 2012) is a fully comprehensive GUI which allows background backup at scheduled times and also provides a breakdown of the memory use of the PC such as pictures, music, documents etc., allowing the user to free up space, the software also allows the user to see what backup files are present on the PC and enables the user to drag and drop these files onto the hard drive. Another benefit to this software is that it is not specific to Western Digital products and can be used with all other forms of external storage products; it also allows the user to retrieve deleted files. This software is by far superior with regards to user interaction than the software provided by the DriveStation. However, the DigitalStation’s provided software includes some function that are not included in SmartWare, the software’s TurboPC (Buffalo, 2013) component uses PC RAM improve data transfer speed over both USB 2 and 3, the software also has a eco Manager, which regulates power supply and can also be configured to put the hard drive to sleep after a certain period of time.

Computer memory technology

These products do not have highly advanced technologies incorporated into them, as they are designed to be as light weight and compact as possible, instead they adopt the technique of using improved connections, such as the USB 3.0 which is highly superior to its predecessor, USB 2.0, providing over 10 times faster data transfer rate, also, for the DigitalStation’s case, PC components, such as RAM to improve transfer rate. Further on from this, USB promoter group released in January 2013 (USB Promoter Group , 2013) that a further improvement of USB 3.0 would be implemented in the form of SuperSpeed USB 3.0, which would be compatible with already existing connectors and cables, this would provide up to 10Gbps in data transfer rate. This would put USB 3.0 back in competition with the already implemented Thunderbolt connection, developed by Intel (Intel, 2012). The development of memory has been a constant improvement, with recently Solid State Hard drives being introduced, however consumer external SSDs only come up to sizes of 512MB.

Another form of technology that Buffalo has released in February 2013 (Alabaster, 2013) is the new external hard drive DriveStation DDR which utilises the introduction of 1GB DRAM Cache. This allows the hard disk to copy data into the faster receiving cache, which would then copy to the main hard disk, resulting in a 408Mbps data transfer rate. The disadvantage of this method, is that DRAM only retains data if power is supplied, thus if power is lost before the data is copied to the permanent retaining hard disk, the data is lost.

Energy consumption profile

Both products run off mains AC, 100-250V, 50/60Hz, making them able to plug into wall sockets, however unlike smaller external hard drives, they are unable to be powered off purely the USB connection, this will hinder the portability of the products, as a mains supply will not always be available. Only the DriveStation supplies the max amount of power consumption, which is 18W.
Bill of materials cost

The calculation for the bill of materials for external hard drives is very difficult as component lists are not readily available; however the overall price per GB for a hard disk drive has steadily fallen and is predicted to reach $0.04 (Coughlin & Grochowski, 2012) by 2015. From this source, if you take the price per GB in 2010, $0.3, and compare it to the retail price per GB for a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green 7200rpm which sold for $71.42 (Smith, 2012), the retail price per GB is $0.82, therefore by selling this hard drive, Western Digital made $0.52 per GB. There is a significant price different between the two products, considering the physical differences of the two, the Buffalo from £112.94 (Amazon, 2013) and the Western Digital from £65.99 (Amazon, 2013), this price for the My Book product is quite surprising compared to the manufacturing problems Western Digital have been having, due to the floods in Thailand.


With regards to performance, the two products are very competitive, with no difference in data transfer rate, or power consumption, the justification for the difference in price is absent. In support of this, with reference to the software support that both products provide, the My Book is much more superior in the range of utilities and interaction, from this, and with the price for the product, one can observe that Western Digital are very much marketing at the mass market, and for those that require a “friendly” system to work with.


Buffalo. (2013). Bundled Solutions. Retrieved from Buffalo Inc.: http://www.buffalotech.com/resource-center/bundled-solutions#buffalo-tools
Buffalo. (2013). Products- DriveStation Axis Velocity. Retrieved from Buffalo Inc.: http://www.buffalotech.com/products/desktop-hard-drives/drivestation/drivestation-axis-velocity
Intel. (2009, January). Intel Universal Serial Bus (USB) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Retrieved from Intel Coporate Web Site: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/io/universal-serial-bus/universal-serial-bus-faq.html
USB Promoter Group . (2013, January 6). USB Promoter Group Press Release. Retrieved from USB.org: http://www.usb.org/press/USB-IF_Press_Releases/SuperSpeed_10Gbps_USBIF_Final.pdf
Western Digital. (2012, October). My Book Essential User Manual. Retrieved from Western Digital Inc.: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/UM/ENG/4779-705053.pdf
Western Digital. (2013). Products- My Book Essential. Retrieved from Western Digital Inc.: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=870

Attachment Timestamp Size
Product Dimensions.jpg 2013-05-02 20:00 15.74 KB