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Yamaha speeds up CD-RW drives

The company says its new drives--with speeds of 16X for writing--enable users to "rip," or extract digital music, from a 74-minute CD in about 3 minutes.

Yamaha today introduced what it says is one of the industry's fastest rewritable CD drives.

Rewritable CDs, or CD-RWs, have surged in popularity as a relatively cheap and easy way to store digital music and large data files. Prices on the drives have continued to drop, while recording quality and speed has improved, making CD-RW the preferred high-volume storage option for PC buyers.

In fact, International Data Corp. predicts worldwide sales of CD-RW drives this year will increase by 93 percent over last year, compared with an increase of 55 percent for DVD drives.

Yamaha's new family of CD-RW drives offers speeds of 16X for writing, 10X for rewriting and 40X for reading. A similar drive from Ricoh, for example, offers speeds of 12X for writing, 10X for rewriting and 32X for reading.

Yamaha says that means the new drives can burn a 79-minute audio CD in about 5 minutes. A user could "rip," or extract digital music, from a 74-minute CD in about 3 minutes, Yamaha says.

Yamaha also has added software designed to improve the recording quality of the CDs created with the drive. These improvements include the Pure Phase Laser System, a more precise method of recording digital signals.

The CRW2100 series of CD-RW drives, which includes four different products, will be available in both internal and external models by mid-November.