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TDK 48x24x48x CD-RW Drive Update
By Aaron Yip
Category : Optical Storage
Published by Jimmy Tang on Monday, 29th July, 2002

Firmware & 24x Re-Writing Update

Over the weekend, TDK informed us that their internal CyClone 48x24x48x CD-RW drive will ship to retail stores with the firmware version VS7S3 and not VS7S1, which was the version used in our review of that drive.

TDK told us that besides adding more 48x-rated CD-R media compatibility, the VS7S3 will increase the writing performance of the CDRW4800B 48x24x48x as well. So in this short update to our previous review, we'll take a look at how true the latter is. We would have loved to test the media compatibility part, but 48x-rated CD-Rs are still very much unavailable here. At the same time, we'll also conduct testing on the 24x re-writing aspects of the drive, which we initially missed out due to the lack of 24x-rated CD-RW media at that time.

VS7S3 vs. VS7S1

For the CD-R writing tests, we'll be using the TDK 48x-rated 80mins/700MB CD-R media for all 48x-writing benchmarks, and an ultra-speed TDK 24x-rated CD-RW disc that was passed down to us for the CD-RW tests. Let's take a look at the results below.

We can see that the new firmware does improve the CDRW4800B's writing performance in the CD-to-CDR 40x and HDD-to-CDRW 24x tests, albeit by only a couple of seconds. It is when writing at 24x to CD-R media from the harddisk that we see a subsantial speed improvement in VS7S3 over VS7S1. Take note however, that the VS7S3 firmware is slower than its predecessor in the HDD-to-CDR 48x test by a noticable six seconds margin.

Click me!! TDK 48x24x48x: Writing at 24x using P-CAV writing technology with CD-R media.

Click me!! TDK 48x24x48x: Writing at 24x using F-CAV writing technology on CD-RW media.

Back to the 24x Re-Writing, we can see from the screenshots above taken from Nero CD Speed that the CDRW4800B writes at 24x CD-RW media using Full-CAV writing technology. For comparisons sake, we also know that the drive writes at 24x CD-R discs using Partial-CAV writing technology. So from the same screenshots, can we conclude that Partial-CAV is the faster writing technology? Definitely, since it writes at 24x right from the 12-minute sector of the media. Simple mathematical calculations would have also favored Partial-CAV. But Full-CAV writings allow a more consistent rate (as represented by the yellow gradient/line in the screenshots) of spinning of the drive's engine - which in turns allow for better quality writing, since vibrations are minimized here.

Our Say

Click me!! The new VS7S3 firmware is based on the new industry standard, which removed support for CD-RW media slower than 10x. Although 12x is not reflected here, it is still supported.

The VS7S3 firmware that ships with the retail version of the TDK CyClone CDRW4800B 48x24x48x does provide an overall improvement in writing speed, although 48x-writing was somehow affected in the negative sense during the HDD-to-CDR benchmark. Hopefully the next firmware revision will improve this aspect. Meanwhile, if you'd prefer the original VS7S1 firmware, keep your fingers crossed and hope that TDK will put up that firmware on their website. Last but not least, it is also important to note that the VS7S3 firmware removes support for any CD-RW media slower than 10x. This is to conform to a new industry standard which we will cover in a later article.

Testbed Configuration
Processor AMD Athlon XP 1600+
Mainboard MSI KT266Pro2-RU
Memory 512MB DDR266 Kingston
Graphics Card MSI GeForce4 Ti 4200
Harddisk Maxtor 60GB 7200RPM
Operating System Windows XP Professional

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