Toshiba is planning to launch a 60GB version of its 1.8-inch hard disk drive in the coming months and has already found a customer in Apple, the company said today at the Computex 2004 exhibition in Taipei.

The drive will enter mass-production in July or August and represents a jump in the storage density of Toshiba's 1.8-inch drives, said Cindy Lee, deputy manager of Toshiba Digital Media Network Taiwan's hard disk drive division technical department.

Toshiba's current highest capacity drive, which is a 40GB model, includes two disc platters, each capable of holding 20GB of data. In the new drive, this capacity will be increased to 30GB per platter.

Ahead of the launch, Toshiba has been showing the drive to customers and has already received an order from Apple, Lee said. Toshiba is currently shipping 350,000 of the 1.8-inch drives per month to Apple for use in the iPod, which is manufactured by Taiwan's Inventec Corp.

The iPod is available in three models with 15GB, 20GB and 40GB capacity hard disk drives. Apple's new iPod Mini, which was launched earlier this year, uses a 4GB capacity 1-inch hard disk drive from Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Inc.

Demand for more drives for the company's iPod digital music player is one of the driving reasons behind a planned expansion of drive production from 800,000 units per month of combined 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch drives to 1 million by the end of this year, according to Lee.

The company is also seeing a large amount of interest in the drive from companies looking to produce similar portable digital music players or more advanced devices that can also play video, she said.

"We've had so many enquires," Lee said. "You wouldn't believe how many enquiries we've had."

Toshiba's current 1.8-inch hard disk drive line-up includes models with between 5GB and 40GB capacities.