Ahead of the official opening of the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toshiba's Storage Device Division announced the first HD-DVD burner for desktop PCs.

This announcement is significant, given that up until now, no manufacturer has offered a half-height desktop drive for installation in PCs. Last autumn, Toshiba announced the first HD-DVD slimline writer for notebook PCs.

I caught up with Toshiba's Paul Castellaneta, senior director, HD-DVD business development, at the Storage Visions conference – also here this week in Las Vegas – and gleaned some more details about the drive, the SD-H903A.


The basic specs are intriguing: Serial ATA interface; Microsoft Windows Vista compliance; write speeds of 1x for HD-DVD-R SL (single-layer) and HD-DVD-R DL (double-layer); 8x for DVD±R SL; 4x for DVD±RW; 3x for DVD-RAM; 2.4x for DVD±R DL; 16x for CD-R; and 10x for CD-RW.

Notably, the drive does not support rewritable media. Castellaneta said the rewritable HD-DVD formats were not ready in time to be incorporated into this drive. However, he says: "We will support rewritable in subsequent models."

Castellaneta says the company decided to use Sata (Serial ATA) because OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers requested it. The Sata interface remains uncommon on DVD burners. And, as with DVD, the use of a Sata interface does not impact on the drive's performance.

"One of the beautiful things about HD-DVD is our ability to keep it low cost, at a high reliability," says Castellaneta. "The goal will continue to be to offer the lowest HD solution in the market."

Since the drive is an OEM component, Castellaneta declined to quote pricing. However, he did posit that "It's probably half of what a Blu-ray [burner] solution is." Blu-ray Disc burners currently range in price from Sony's $750 BWU-100A to Plextor's $1,000 PX-B900A.

Castellaneta says he expects we'll see systems integrating an HD-DVD burner in either March or April. The drive, he says, will show up in external drives, as well as in desktop PCs, gaming PCs and media servers.