Hot on the heels of the first certified USB 3.0 product to become commercially available — NEC's µPD720200 host controller chip — is what Buffalo Technology claims is the first device you'll be able to plug into a USB 3.0 port: the DriveStation HD-UX3.
Buffalo's USB 3.0 DriveStation HD-UX3 will be available in 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB capacities in the fourth quarter of 2009. Pricing has yet to be announced.
USB 3.0 (or 'SuperSpeed USB' if you must use the marketing handle) takes the USB standard from the theoretical 480Mbps throughput of version 2.0 to 4.8Gbps — a tenfold increase. Taking protocol overhead into account, the effective speed of USB 3.0 should be around 3Gbps: this means that a 25GB HD movie, for example, could be transferred in about a minute.
There's little point in buying a USB 3.0 drive like the DriveStation HD-UX3 without a corresponding port to plug it into — although it is backwards compatible with existing USB 2.0-enabled computers. That's why Buffalo has also announced a USB 3.0 controller, the IFC-PCIE2U3. There's little information on this expansion card beyond the product name, but we'll report further when details emerge.
As well as speed and backwards compatibility, USB 3.0 offers simultaneous read/write capability and better power efficiency, all of which adds up to an eagerly awaited technology.
As far as operating system support goes, Linux has led the way with kernel version 2.6.31, released on September 9 2009. Windows 7 is expected to deliver USB 3.0 support shortly after its launch on October 22, while Apple has not divulged its plans for USB 3.0 support in Mac OS X.
Last week Freecom announced a similar-sounding external drive in the shape of the Hard Drive XS 3.0 (119 euros/£110). Freecom is also offering a Controller Card for desktops (26 euros/£24) and an Express Controller Card for notebooks (30 euros/£28). Freecom says the Hard Drive XS 3.0 will be available from mid-November.