Toshiba is bringing the capabilities of HD DVD to the desktop PC with the announcement of a new drive able to read and write to HD DVD discs.

The Japanese electronics maker said on Thursday that its new drive integrates a blue-violet laser that can read and write to HD DVD-R discs and that offers support for high-density HD DVD-ROM discs. It claims it is the first drive capable of writing this new format.

The drive also offers all the functionality of a super multi-drive, with high performance, high-speed read and write to all flavors of standard DVD and CD discs.

Tokyo-based Toshiba plans to send sample shipments to select partners this month. No mention of commercial availability has been made, and the pricing of the unit has not been announced.

Dual layer HD DVD provides 30GB of storage capacity, or enough space to store eight hours of high-definition video, or five full length DVD's.

More than 1.5 million HD DVD movies have been sold since April 2006, according to Toshiba.