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CD-RW drive packs more data

Plextor says its new CD-RW drive can squeeze 40 percent more data onto a standard blank disc. But will they play on regular CD drives?

Plextor has announced a new CD-rewritable drive that can squeeze 40 percent more data into standard blank discs.

The PlexWriter Premium can pack 980MB of data into a 700MB (80-minute) disc and 1.2GB into an 880MB (99-minute) disc, according to the CD gear maker. It does so using the GigaRec option in the bundled PlexTools Professional software, working with the drive's hardware.

The increased use of space is achieved by burning smaller-than-normal pits into the surface of a blank disc--up to 40 percent smaller, thus allowing it to pack in 40 percent more data, according to Fremont, Calif.-based Plextor, which did not give details on the process.

Discs created using the Plextor drives may not be playable on CD drives, however. Because of the special nature of the pits, a standard drive's laser may not be able to read them properly.

The CD-RW drives are expected ship in worldwide in May at an undisclosed price. The Premium line will ship as a standard internal IDE drive and as an external USB 2.0 (Universal Serial Bus 2.0) unit. They will feature 52x read and write-once speeds, and a 32x speed for rewritable media.

For some time now, enthusiasts have been able to make use of between 10 percent and 20 percent more data than the rated capacity of a disc by "overburning," or writing data onto portions of a discs normally left untouched. However, such discs often cannot be read by drives.

CNET Asia staff reported from Singapore. News.com's Richard Shim contributed to this story.