First USB 3.0 hard drives to reach Australia soon

Western Digital plans to introduce its fastest external hard drive by the end of January; no details on release of Segate's BlackArmor PS110 in Australia

Western Digital's USB 3.0-equipped My Book external hard drive

Western Digital's USB 3.0-equipped My Book external hard drive

A spokesperson for Western Digital has told PC World that Australians will likely see the first external hard drives with USB 3.0 connectivity by the end of the month. The hard drive manufacturer recently announced its My Book 3.0 external hard drive at the CES 2010 technology trade show. The drive is available in one and two terabyte capacities and provides a USB 3.0 connection for fast file transfers. The spokesperson was unable to reveal pricing for the drive. It is also unknown whether Australians will be able to purchase the USB 3.0 PCI Express 2.0 adapter card for desktop PCs that was announced alongside the drive.

Dave Pistille, vice-president of marketing for Western Digital's branded products group, said that the speed of the My Book 3.0 external hard drive would be useful for resource-intensive tasks like video editing, animation and graphic design. "Consumers no longer have to wait for technology to keep up with their ideas," Pistille said in a press release this week.

Seagate also announced its first USB 3.0-equipped external hard drive at CES 2010, the 500GB BlackArmor PS110 portable external hard drive. The drive comes with a five-year limited warranty, AES 256-bit hardware encryption as well as Acronis' backup suite and Seagate's SafetyDrill+ recovery software.

Spokespeople for Seagate were unable to reveal Australian pricing or availability. In the US the BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 Performance Kit can be purchased directly from Seagate's Web site for US$179.99. The hard drive is bundled with an ExpressCard/34 adapter card that provides a USB 3.0 connection.

USB 3.0, otherwise known as SuperSpeed USB, provides theoretical transfer speeds of up to 4.8 gigabits per second (Gbps) or 600 megabytes per second (MBps) — 10 times faster than the USB 2.0 standard. Due to the speed limitations of the SATA II connection currently used inside external hard drives, the first USB 3.0 devices are unlikely to take full advantage of the standard's bandwidth.

Western Digital claims that the new connection allows the My Book 3.0 to read and write data 4.7 times faster than drives with a USB 2.0 connection. In benchmark tests, the My Book 3.0 could read and write large files three to four times faster than a USB 2.0 drive. According to Conrad Maxwell, chairperson for the SATA-IO Marketing Work Group, maximum transfer speeds will increase once hard drive manufacturers implement SATA 6Gbps technology in external storage devices.

The USB 3.0 specification is backwards-compatible with current USB 2.0 connections, so users who purchase Western Digital's or Seagate's new external hard drives will be able to use them on their current computers, albeit at the slower speed. To take advantage of USB 3.0's improved throughput, users will have to either upgrade their existing PCs or purchase new computers already equipped with the connection.

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James Hutchinson

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