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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.
 
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'''SPEED LIMITS'''
 
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.
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'''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.
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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.
 
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'''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.
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''[[Optical_Drives|More about Optical Drives]]''

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