Found a real issue this evening.
Tested using Nero CD / DVD Speed. Created data disks using the following two disks:
Verbatim Data Life Plus 8X DVD+R MMC003
TDK 4X DVD+R Ricohjpn R01
In both cases...the burn started (CLV) correctly at 4X through about 0.8GB when the drive shifted to 6X. At 2.2GB, the drive shifted to 8X...through about 3.2GB where on two sets of both disks...the burn stopped...and dropped back to 4x for the remainder of the burn. Two brands of disks...two disks each (total of 4 disks)...each time...the problem replicated itself.
Then, I reflashed the firmware to 2C8 SE...two more MMC003's and Two more Ricohjpn R01's.
In each case...burn starts at 4x to 0.8GB...then shifts to 6X...until 2.2GB...then shifted to 8X...and finished that way...all FOUR tests.
Either NEC messed with the strategies for these brands...or something's up with the firmware.
Leaving it at 2C8 SE...seems perfect for 4X, 8X and 16X media. I burn almost exclusively Verbatim, TDK and Fuji...so I'm good to go