Seagate has announced the world's first SATA 3.0 hard drive, the Barracuda XT, making good its promise of earlier this year to start selling hardware capable of keeping up with the high-performance interface.

Seagate demonstrated the possibilities of SATA 3.0 (also known as SATA 6Gb/s) in March, and for once for once the hype is probably accurate in its core message. The Barracuda XT is the world's fastest ‘mainstream' hard drive, and can feed data to a SATA 3.0 interface at burst throughputs up to the 6Gbits/s maximum, twice what is theoretically possible from today's SATA 2.0 hardware.

However, to have any hope of taxing such an interface, users will need to have applications that can throw this volume of data through hard drive I/O - such applications are still fairly rare - and get hold of a corresponding SATA 3.0 controller. Luckily, such controllers do exist from Asus and Gigabyte, which have, respectively, announced the P7P55D and P55 series motherboards.

The Barracuda XT drive itself is otherwise a straightforward 2TB capacity unit, with a large 64MB of onboard cache, running at 7,200rpm, although SATA 3.0 is clearly designed for a world where this sort of capacity has become a low entry point.

"Our aim is not to compromise on performance or capacity," was how Seagate's David Mosley described the world the drive-SATA 3.0 age could usher in. Today, higher capacity drives inevitable struggle to deliver larger and larger amounts of data to users relative to the capability of the interface.

That said, with Seagate's SeaTools utility users could configure the new drive to sacrifice some of its capacity to get even higher performance.

He emphasised that the XT was not designed to be used in high-vibration and high heat situations that would be common in a data centres, hence its ‘mainstream' PC moniker.

The Barracuda XT is available from this week from resellers for $299 (approx £185).