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Pioneer DVD-115 - CD-ROM Performance Results

  July 17, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

For an overview on methodology, click here.

CD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

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As a CD-ROM reader, the DVD-115 is a middle-of-the-pack performer in our low-level measures. Although Pioneer specifies an access time of 80ms, our test unit could manage only 86.9ms in our measures, placing it between the Delta and Plextor.

According to CD Winbench 99, the DVD-115 transfers at 44X speeds at the outer tracks, nearly 12% faster than Pioneer specifies. This lands it squarely between the 48X and 40X drives. In the end, we see the Pioneer underachieving in access times and overachieving in transfer rates. Let's see how the Winmark test interprets these low-level results.

CD-ROM Winmark 99

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We see the DVD-115 doing surprisingly well in the CD-ROM Winmark, again performing between the 48X ATAPI and 40X SCSI drives. This time, however, it is much closer to the 48X units. A comparison with all-time Winmark leader Toshiba shows Pioneer's drive to be only 10% back, and only 1% behind the Delta. Conversely, the faster of the two 40X drives, Toshiba's 6401B SCSI unit, lags behind the DVD-115 by 10%. Considering the Pioneer's fourth place finish in access times, this is an impressive feat.

With nearly 48X performance in the Winmarks, the Pioneer thus far is shaping up to be quite a performer. Can it keep up in the file and disc copy tests? Let's find out.

File and Disc Copy

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In our sequential file copy test, the DVD-115 again posts very competitive results. Less than 4 seconds behind the Delta, Pioneer's drive finishes a solid 2nd place, well ahead of the 3rd place Plextor.

We see similar results in the disc copy test. This time the Pioneer overtakes the Delta, trailing Toshiba's ATAPI unit by a mere 3%. Considering the Pioneer's low-level results, we find its application-level performance quite impressive. We may be seeing the result of top-notch firmware programming.

Can the Pioneer keep up the pace in our audio extraction tests? Continue reading to find out.

Digital Audio Extraction

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In their product brochure, Pioneer specifies 12X CLV read speeds with CD-DA media. Our testing, however, indicates the DVD-115 is capable of much faster extraction speeds. CDSpeed99 shows the drive does indeed start out at 12X at the inner tracks, but then continues in a CAV fashion, rather than Pioneer's claimed CLV. Examining the extraction rate graph, though, we see that approximately 30 minutes into the extraction process the Pioneer peaks at 20X, then drops suddenly back to 12X. It then resumes the process at a CAV pace, finishing at 17X by the outer edge of our CD-DA. CDSpeed99 rates extraction quality as perfect, with no differences found in a sector-to-sector comparison. Despite this, however, there may be quality issues to contend with.

Others have duplicated this very odd-looking DAE graph. An astute reader in our own BBS brought up a concern with extraction quality related to the issue. We investigated this matter and did find a potential problem. Using CDDAE99, we experimented with extraction methods in an effort to duplicate the problem. Sure enough, after extracting our audio CD in its entirety to the test partition on our testbed's hard disk, we found a short, but definite popping sound at approximately the same position the DAE graph dips from 20X to 12X. Unfortunately, though, we were unable to repeat this consistently. We extracted the entire CD-DA four more times in an effort to duplicate the error, but only managed to repeat it once more. In addition, we tried extracting the track the popping sound occurred in by itself, and again could not repeat the issue. If we extract track 7 individually, it tops out at about 12X. In fact, we extracted each track of our test CD-DA individually and discovered that each averaged about 12X. It's only when we select all 14 tracks of our test CD-DA to extract in a single session that we see the extraction speeds break away from the 12X CLV mold... and we see the extraction issue arise.

Despite the intermittent nature of this problem, we can't help but be leery of using the DVD-115 as an audio extractor. If Pioneer stuck to the 12X CLV specification, there is a good chance this would not even be an issue. However, perhaps Pioneer will address this in a future firmware update. It's better to extract properly at specified speeds then to risk DAE problems by pushing the envelope too far. We did attempt to contact Pioneer via their 800 number to ask about this issue, but a voicemail message left with an optical engineer went unreturned. We attempted to reach the appropriate person via email as well, but we could not find any email addresses on Pioneer's 800 number is the only means of communication that we could find. Ideally, we'd like to reserve judgment until hearing from the horse's mouth, but in this case it was not possible.

Moving beyond the DAE issue, let us now see how the DVD-115 does when reading CD-Rs and CD-RWs.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

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We see the DVD-115 exhibit what's now become familiar behavior when reading CD-Rs-read speeds are ever so slightly faster than they are with our pressed CD test disc. This lands the Pioneer squarely between the 48X and 40X drives in our comparison. We had absolutely no problems reading our TDK test media at full speed.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

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It's with our Verbatim CDRW that the DVD-115 truly shines. Second only to the Plextor in our comparison, the Pioneer reads our test media at 16X-32X CAV speeds, just a hair behind the PX-40TSi and well ahead of the rest of the competition. So far in our testing, we've only found two drives that have been capable of such high read speeds with CD-RW media, said Plextor, and Creative's 52X ATAPI CD-ROM.

Now for the part we've all been waiting for. Does Pioneer's DVD-115 truly reach 16X DVD-ROM read speeds? How is movie playback? We are about to see.

 DVD-ROM Performance Results...


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