DVD-ROM Performance Results
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DVDSpeed99 is used to measure sustained transfer rates and CPU utilization a 1X.
During development of our optical methodologies back in February and March of last year, we had difficulty finding any data DVD discs to test with. When we tried various movie DVDs, though, we found they read at top speeds in the three drives we had available to us (Toshiba's SD-M1202 and SD-M1212, and Pioneer's DVD-303S). Thus, we standardized our DVD transfer rate measures on the DVD movie "Twister." It was single-layer and yielded expected results with these three drives.
In July 2000, we looked at Pioneer's DVD-115. Using the same "Twister" disc we standardized on, we found the DVD-115 to read this disc at 5X-11X CAV, significantly slower than Pioneer's claimed 6.6X-16X. Later reviews of Ricoh's MP9120A, Toshiba's SD-M1401 and Pioneer's DVD-305S showed each of these drives to read at their maximum speeds with the "Twister" DVD. At this point the DVD-115 was the only drive out of seven tested to read our "Twister" DVD at speeds significantly below specs.
In the fall of 2000, we were finally able to locate a few data DVDs, including a global explorer program and a couple of games. We tried them informally with the SD-M1401, MP9120A and DVD-305S during their evaluations and found that they yielded results similar to our "Twister" DVD.
Armed with these data DVDs, we looked forward to seeing how the DVD-116 would perform with them. As it turns out, tests with the DVD-116 and our "Twister" DVD show results identical to the DVD-115. However, when we test with a data DVD, results climb closer to expected values. There is still a drop-off in read speeds on the outer portion of our data disc, but the transfer rate graph shows a trend that would approach 16X were it not for the dip at the outer edge. We could not get the drive to break 14X with any of our three data DVDs. CPU utilization at 1X is 6% with both data and video DVD discs.
In fairness to the DVD-116 and all future DVD drives we will test, we have added a data DVD Transfer Rate section to our optical database to supplement the current movie DVD results. We will use Access Software's "Tex Murphy Overseer" DVD for obtaining these results.
Subjective Playback Observations
There were no quality issues during playback of portions of Twister and The Matrix.. Remember, DVD movies play at 1X (1350 KB/sec), so just about any modern DVD-ROM drive will do a good job playing movies, provided it is installed in a system with decent CPU speeds (greater than 300 Mhz) and sufficient memory (at least 64 MB, preferably 128 MB). Systems with hardware-based DVD decoders can often get away with slower CPU speeds. Video card and decoding hardware/software typically play a much greater role in playback performance than the drive itself.