Buffalo DriveStation DDR claims SSD speeds with HDD hardware

Buffalo has revealed its latest external drive, the DriveStation DDR HD-GDU3, slotting more RAM into the USB 3.0-connected enclosure so as to rival SSD speeds, allegedly, with HDD pricing. The new drive, available in 2TB and 3TB capacities, uses traditional spinning-platter disks to keep prices down, but Buffalo claims that thanks to a combination of caching and other tweaking it'll reach write speeds of up to 400 MB/s.

That's a pretty impressive number for an HDD-based external drive, if Buffalo can sustain it, while the quoted read rate of 330 MB/s is also ample. In fact, Buffalo claims, it'll take around 3.5s to shuttle 800MB of photos from a PC to the DriveStation DDR.

So far, high-speed has generally been synonymous with SSD, with solid-state drives cropping up in models like LaCie's Little Big Disk. That uses not only solid-state storage for performance, but hooks up via Thunderbolt.

Buffalo has stuck with USB 3.0, which is theoretically a "narrower pipe" than Thunderbolt, but arguably makes up for it by being more commonly available (plus backward-compatible with USB 2.0, albeit with a speed hit). It'll work with both PCs and Macs.

The DDR's trick is more cache than you'd usually find in an external drive: in this case, 1GB of DDR3 memory. Buffalo is being coy with the details, but says that by buffering files during larger jobs, it can bypass the bandwidth limits of traditional HDDs and push content through the USB 3.0 connection more readily.

We'll have to wait until we can test the DriveStation DDR out ourselves before we know how accurate that all is – in our experience with drives that use caching systems, we've generally found that the performance isn't necessarily consistent across all content stored. The drive is shipping now, priced at $159.99/£129 for the 2TB model and $209.99/£169 for the 3TB model.