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Revision to Optical Drive Performance

Sam Goldheart

To complicate matters further, optical drives do different tasks at different rates. For example, a typical early CD writer could write CD-R (write-once) discs at 4X, or 600 KB/s, but read discs at 24X, or 3,600 KB/s. When CD-RW (rewritable) discs were introduced, yet a third number was needed, because most CD writers wrote CD-R discs and CD-RW discs at different speeds. A typical modern CD writer might read CD discs at 52X, write CD-R discs at 52X, and rewrite CD-RW discs at 32X. Such a drive is referred to as a 52-52-32 drive.
Read speeds may also differ according to the type of disc being read. For example, a particular drive may read data CDs at 52X Max but audio CDs at only 24X, pressed data DVDs at 16X Max, but DVD-Video discs at only 8X, and DVD+R discs at 16X, but DVD+RW discs at only 8X. Similarly, a particular drive may write data CDs at 52X Max, but audio CDs at only 24X.
'''What About Blu-Ray and HD-DVD?'''
For now, and for the foreseeable future, we think the best choice is a dual-layer DVD+R/RW drive. Standard DVD+R and DVD+RW discs will remain available for many years, long after the high-capacity DVD format war has been decided.
So matters remained, until the first hybrid (or "combo") CD writer and DVD-ROM drive was introduced. At that point, a fourth number was needed to report the DVD-ROM read speed. A typical combo drive might write CD-R discs at 52X, rewrite CD-RW discs at 24X, read CDs at 40X, and read DVDs at 16X. Such a drive is referred to as a 52-24-40-16 drive.
Finally, random access time may matter to you. In general, optical writers have more complex and heavier heads than read-only optical drives. Consequently, optical writers have noticeably slower access times than most read-only drives. For example, the random access time of a fast DVD-ROM drive might be 85 milliseconds, while that of a DVD writer might be twice that. Fast access times don't matter for sequential operations such as burning a disc or watching a DVD video. They do matter when you randomly access data from an optical disc, such as occurs when you play a DVD based game. That's why serious gamers usually have two optical drives in their gaming systems an optical writer for general use and a fast DVD-ROM drive for loading games.
'''Disk or Disc?'''
With Seagate as the sole exception, hard drive makers refer to their products as "disk" drives. The "disc" spelling is used universally to refer to optical discs.
''[[Optical_Drives|More about Optical Drives]]''

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