A Slender Cd Rom Drive For Notebooks To Come

Two of the largest growth areas for personal-computer makers are notebook-size portables and so-called multimedia machines. And for many companies, combining the two is the Holy Grail. One key problem: A CD-ROM (compact disk, read-only memory) drive, the heart of any multimedia PC, is too big and uses too much power to fit in most portables.

Recently, however, the Disk Products Div. of Japanese computer giant Toshiba Corp. announced an "ultrathin" CD-ROM drive. Like many current CD-ROM drives, the XM-4101 can spin a CD at twice the normal speed to help retrieve data faster. But unlike bulky desktop units, it measures less than an inch high--a 40% reduction in thickness--and uses less than 2 watts of power. Although the company says the unit will not fit in most current portables, it can be designed into the next generation of notebooks.