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Sony Spressa CRX160E - Write/ReWrite Performance Results

  November 22, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

Write/ReWrite Tests

CD-R Based Duplication

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The Sony rebounds quite nicely in our CD-R duplication tests! When duplicating our test audio CD, it was the fastest of the bunch by over 5%, despite the ATAPI Plextor's better DAE speeds. Time to image our 65-minute CD-DA was 7:20, while it took just over 6:38 to burn the image to CD-R. Total duplication time was just under 14 minutes.

When duplicating our data CD, the CRX160E stays ahead of the two Plextors, but this time the margin is a less significant 2%. Nonetheless, the Sony is the quickest we've yet seen at duplicating both audio and data discs. How does it do when rewritable media is used? Let's see.

CD-RW Based Duplication

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Sony's 8X spec for burning to high-speed rewritable media is 20% slower than its competition's 10X rating. Because the time to image our data CD does not change from our CD-R duplication tests, our focus is on the burn portion of this test. With an average burn time of 9:45, the CRX160E clocks in about 18% slower than Plextor's 12/10/32A, slightly better than expected but still noticeably slower overall. If you primarily use CD-RWs, you're better off with one that rewrites at 10X. However, if you primarily use CD-R media, the Sony is the fastest in our comparisons.

CD-R Based Stress Tests

Here we subject our test drives to situations that are likely to deplete their buffers in an effort to see just how much stress they can take and still successfully complete a burn. Previously reviewed drives from Plextor and Ricoh came equipped with buffer underrun prevention technology, which allows the drive to pause mid-burn if the buffer runs dry, in order to let the buffer refill. Sony's CRX160E does not come with such technology. The result? It successfully burned at 12X during our Unreal Tournament stress test, but created coasters in our CPUmark99 stress test at all speeds greater than 4X. Interestingly, it did better in this test than Plextor's SCSI 12/4/32, which could only complete this test at 2X speeds. This calls to question many users' preconceptions that SCSI burners are less likely to create coasters than ATAPI burners (when buffer underrun prevention technology is not present). Presently we do not have enough drives in our database to make a decisive conclusion, yet our gut feeling is that as long as an ATAPI burner is configured properly, it is no more or less likely to create failed burns than an otherwise equal SCSI burner. Modern ATAPI drives have become very good at utilizing DMA, which keeps down CPU utilization. Just be sure to enable DMA in your OS!

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DirectCD Formatting

We were a bit surprised to see the Sony perform a full format of a high speed CD-RW in only 15:20. This is over a minute faster than the next-fastest drive we've test so far, Ricoh's MP9120A. Based on the first three drives we tested, format performance appeared to be based on rewrite speeds. After all, Plextor's 4X SCSI rewriter formatted its media roughly half as fast as Plextor's 10X ATAPI rewriter. However, results from the Ricoh, and now the Sony, indicate that there may be some headroom for engineers to tweak format speeds here.

Subsequent quick formats were completed in a speedy 18 seconds, also the fastest we've yet seen.

DirectCD Packet-Writing Performance

However, when we get to our packet-writing performance test, there is no doubt that 8X is slower than 10X. Sony's average time to copy our 195 MB test folder from HDD to high-speed CD-RW is 3:26, 21 seconds slower than Plextor's 12/10/32A and 40 seconds slower than Ricoh's MP9120A. Put into perspective, the Sony is 10% slower than the Plextor and 20% slower than the Ricoh.

DirectCD CD-RW Erasing

Finally, our CD-RW erase tests averaged less than 34 seconds, equal to Plextor's 12/10/32A and 11 seconds slower than the Ricoh.



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