Panasonic today started shipping samples to personal computer manufacturers of what it claims is the world's thinnest internal Blu-ray disc drive. At just 9.5 millimeters tall, it's thin enough for laptop makers to fit it into their slim-line laptops without the need for a redesign.

The slim design was reportedly accomplished by combining Panasonic's own technologies such as the low-profile, 2-lens actuator and spherical aberration compensation mechanism as well as an optimized optical design for CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc laser. The new drive is capable of writing at 2X speeds on BD-R or BD-RE media and offers BD-R DL support. In addition, it will also read and write on the regular CD & DVD formats.

The samples are expected to be exhibited at the 2008 International CES in Las Vegas next month. No word on pricing or availability as of yet, but Mac fans are already crossing their fingers for a slot-loading version of the drive for the next revision of Apple's Macbook Pro.