Seagate has released its first USB SuperSpeed 3.0-enabled external hard disk drive, the BlackArmor PS110, claiming up to three times the performance of its previous USB 2.0 products.

The BlackArmor all-in-one USB 3.0 toolkit packages a 500GB 7200rpm, 2.5-inch portable hard drive, power cable and PC express card to enable USB 2.0-enabled laptops to perform with the 4.8Gbit/s speed that USB 3.0 specifications allow.

While USB 3.0 theoretically represents a 10-fold improvement in I/O speed over USB 2.0, Seagate said the data speed of its BlackArmor USB 3.0 portable drive was based on "real-world testing." The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface allows transfer of large files to and from the external drive at sustained transfer rates of 100MB/s.

For example, Seagate claims that a 25GB high-definition movie can be transferred in just four minutes on the BlackArmor USB 3.0 drive. That compares to the 14 minutes the transfer would take using a traditional USB 2.0 drive.

"The growing presence of large multimedia files in the home means that connectivity and speed is a top concern for a satisfactory experience," said Dave Mosley, Seagate executive vice president of sales, marketing and product line management said in a statement. "The delivery of USB 3.0 further underscores our commitment to giving people an efficient way to store, access and share their digital creations."

Yesterday, Western Digital launched its first USB 3.0-enabled external hard disk drive, claiming a 10-fold improvement over its previous USB 2.0 drives.

In order to enable the BlackArmor drive, a user must have an adapter card slot in which they can plug the PCIe card. They can then use the included adapter cord to connect the PC card to the BlackArmor PS110 drive.

"As people continue to amass vast libraries of high-definition photos, movies and music, the storage needs of U.S. households are forecast to grow more than 10 times between 2009 and 2013, and the average digital media storage requirements will exceed a terabyte by 2013," said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst of Parks Associates.

The drive ships with the Acronis business-grade backup suite, an automated full-system backup that protects all files with AES 256-bit encryption and SafetyDrill+ software - a bare metal recovery feature that's compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 . The drive also comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

The new BlackArmor PS 110 USB 3.0 Performance kit is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and retails at $179.99.