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Yamaha has unveiled the world's fastest-ever CD-R and RW drives - the CRW2200 series - offering 20 times writing, 10 times rewriting and 40 times reading and ripping. It didn't actually unveil it - that's just cliched journalese - but it is 14 per cent faster than its previous series (the 2100).

And, of course, it will be out on display at CeBIT this week. There will be five models in the series, the first (2200E) available soon after the show ends on 28 March. These are: CRW2200E (internal ATAPI), CRW2200S (internal SCSI-3), CRW2200SX (external SCSI-3), CRW2100IX (external IEEE1394), and CRW2200UX (external USB2.0).

Yamaha seems rather pleased with itself over the drives, offering "greater recording stability, efficiency and ease of use" and using words like "excellent" and "superb" in its press release. All drives are based on the 2100s and come with Yamaha's SafeBurn system (good, backup memory system for recording). They will all have a big 8Mb buffer memory to help reach the faster speeds.

The general manager for these things, Masami Takeuchi made a point of saying "we have not compromised quality for speed", although when it says the latest drives have "retained many" of the 2100's features, the obvious questions is: which haven't they retained and why?

As an indication of the speed: ripping a 74-minute CD will now take around about three minutes.

More details will come out of the CeBIT experience. ®

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