Almost every aspect of computers has evolved rapidly over the past few years, with the exception of conventional hard disks. The performance of processors, graphics cards and other components has increased significantly, but the speed of hard disks has been fairly stagnant. Buffalo attempts to break the mould with its new DriveStation DDR3, an external hard disk with USB 3.0 and 1GB of DDR3 RAM.
The performance of your average hard disk feels slow when you compare it to an SSD. Manufacturers such as Western Digital and HGST are working hard on new storage technologies, but the fruits of their labour are still some way off in the future. One promising combination is putting SSD cache in a hard disk - something we saw recently in the Seagate SSHD.
Buffalo has taken a different approach with the DriveStation DDR. It's a standard hard disk, in this case a 2TB 7200 rpm Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 in an external case. It looks pretty normal, even if there is a little fan in the back, but there are other hard disks with fans out there. The PCB is a lot more complex, however, than a standard hard disk. It contains an ARM processor that serves as controller, and we see 1GB DDR3-1600 Hynix memory.
When you connect it to a computer it works like normal external hard disk. The performance is fine, but nothing extraordinary. To fully take advantage of the DriveStation DDR you need to install a driver. When you use that program (currently available for most Windows versions) to copy a file, you get a special TurboEX window which tracks the progress. You can read the rest of Buffalo DriveStation DDR3 preview: external disk on steroids on Hardware.info.