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Seagate's 6Gbps desktop hard drive now available

Seagate ships what it says is the world's first 6Gbps 2TB 3.5-inch desktop hard drive.

Six months after showing off the demo, Seagate announced Monday that it is now shipping what it says is the word's first 3.5-inch 6Gbps 2TB hard drive.

The drive is based on the third generation of the Serial ATA (SATA) standard, roughly called SATA3. The majority of existing hard drives use the SATA2 standard that caps at 3Gbps. Theoretically, the new 6Gbps standard's throughput could be fast enough to transfer the entire contents of a CD (about 800MB) in just one second.

The new 6Gbps 2TB Barracuda XT hard drive from Seagate. Seagate

The new hard drive is called Barracuda XT, and it belongs to the company's mainstream line of desktop hard drives. It spins at 7200rpm and boasts 64MB of cache memory, as opposed to the 16MB or 32MB of most existing hard drives. It is a four-platter drive with an areal density of 368 gigabits per square inch.

Of course, to take advance of the new 6Gbps throughput speed, the Barracuda XT needs to be installed in a computer with a 6Gbps SATA controller. The good news is that's also available now.

According to Marvell, a maker of hard drive controllers, the first SATA 6Gbps controller is now incorporated in high-end motherboards from Asus and Gigabyte, such as the Asus P7P55D Premium or the GA-P55-Extreme. There will soon also be expansion cards that add the new controller to existing computers.

However, the new drive is backward-compatible with previous versions of the SATA standard, including the SATA 1.5Gbps and SATA2 (3Gbps). This means you will be able to use it with your current computer at the speed of the current controller. Nonetheless, it's predicted that by the end of next year, the new SATA3 will be the mainstream standard that replaces the existing SATA2.

According to Seagate, the new Barracuda XT hard drive is ideal for high-performance desktops, low-cost servers, and external storage devices.

Together with the Barracuda XT, Seagate is also introducing Seagate SeaTool software, which allows for optimizing the drive configuration and tuning it for performance by sacrificing some capacity. For example, users can use the tool to format the 2TB drive into a 1TB drive that offers much faster performance.

The new Barracuda XT 2TB 6Gbps hard drive is available now and costs $299, which is the same price as other 2TB 3Gbps hard drives currently on the market.