Toshiba will start producing a 320GB hard-disk drive for laptop computers before the end of this year, the company said Tuesday.

It is the first 2.5-inch drive to be announced at that capacity, with production to begin in the fourth quarter, according to Toshiba. Pricing was not announced.

The drive is one of a series of five that make up Toshiba's new MKxx52SX family of hard-disk drives. The 320G-byte model will contain two platters -- the circular disks on which data is recorded. Other drives in the range will offer between 80G bytes and 250G bytes of storage space. They will connect via a 3G bps (bits per second) serial ATA (SATA) interface.

The amount of data that can be stored on a hard-disk drive is constantly expanding as drive makers fine tune technology, and the needs of laptop users are growing in tandem with the expansion in drive space . While enterprise users might not require such a capacious drive, users of multimedia laptops will almost certainly welcome the extra space to store video.

Today, some laptops feature digital TV tuners and companion video recording software, allowing them to double as a digital video recorder. Also, editing of home video is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to Internet video Web sites like YouTube.