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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Mitsumi CR-480ATE CD-RW

1. The first 32x CD-RW drive arrives!

Mitsumi CR-480ATE IDE CDR-W - Page 1

The first 32x CD-RW drive arrives!

- Introduction

has been following the CD-R writing technology for quite sometime now but has never managed to 'lead' the writing race since Sanyo has been the pioneer in this area from the arrival of the 8x CD-R drive. However nothing should be considered as granted nowadays... Mitsumi engineers worked hard and the result of their efforts is a new CD-RW drive with the codename 'CR-480ATE'. The new drive not only supports the faster writing but also the faster re-writing speeds ever been available to users. The need for speed keeps increasing and the total time for burning CDs keeps lowering down.

Can the 32x CD-R writing speed considered as a major step in the CD-R recording technology? How faster can a 32x recorder really be from the 24x recorders? What about writing quality at the highest recording speed ever available? Lets find out! This review should be considered as a 'preview' since future firmware updates will improve both reading/writing performances.

- Features

The drive supports 32x writing (Z-CLV), 12x re-writing, 16MB Buffer, "ExacLink" as the main anti-buffer underrun technology and "Mt. Rainier" format. The maximum reading speed of the drive is 40x but this may change in the final mass production units (up to 48x). Mitsumi continues to keep the recorder's buffer high enough to avoid extended use of 'ExacLink'. The exact writing speeds are 4x, 8x, 16x (CLV), 16x-24x and 16x-32x (Z-CLV) and re-writing speeds of 4x, 10x, 12x (CLV).

The supported formats are: CD-DA, CD-ROM (Mode 1 und 2), CD ROM XA (Mode 2, Form 1 und 2), Enhanced CD, Photo CD (read only), CD Text, Video CD and it supports the following recording methods: Disk at once, Session at once, Track at once, Multisession and Packet Writing.

- Mitsumi's 32x writing technology

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE supports 32x-writing speed with the use of the Z-CLV writing technology. Despite the fact that OAK's chipset support both Z-CLV/P-CAV writing technologies, Mitsumi chosen Z-CLV cause: "...The reason why we select Z-CLV is technically easier and writing a better reliable data:

* CLV : Does not need control the Laser Power, always same power, but has to be under control spindle motor. Inner fast, Outer slower
* Z-CLV : Laser power control will 3 times in model 24x, 5 times in 32x.
* P-CAV : Spindle motor does not need control but Laser Power will always slightly change!! This technologies is quite difficult and costly!! and miss writing happen often

The main reason that made Mitsumi to adopt the Z-CLV technology for the new 32x model is the cost and the extended research that must be done in order to have a reliable recording. Just remember that last month Yamaha released their 24x P-CAV recorder, when 24x Z-CLV recorders are from June 2001 in the market...

The 32x writing speed range is divided in 4 zones: The drive starts writing at 16x from lead-in till the 2mins, shifts up to 20x at 6mins, shifts up to 24x at 16mins and lastly shifts to 32x at 42mins and stays there until the end. The average recording speed is 26.34X. It's not clear yet if the shift points are fixed in all cases, or they will vary according to the quality of media used.

- The competition

The only manufacturer that has announced 32x recorder so far is Sanyo. Many OEM vendors to ship retail products to the market will use the Sanyo "CRD-BP1600P". The Sanyo 32x drive has two advantages over Mitsumi's 32x proposal, according to the drive's specs:

a) 20x CLV and
b) 20-32x Z-CLV writing speeds

We will have to wait and see if the drive's performance at both 20x CLV and 20x-32x Z-CLV would be as smooth as the beta drive from Mitsumi is. Unfortunately by the time this article was written, Sanyo failed to provide working sample unit for straight comparison. As soon as the compatibility of the media is increased, with newer firmware, we will have a clearer view of Sanyo's 32x performance and recording times. In case of the same shift points will be used, the total difference in recording time, at 32x speed, is expected to be around 5-10secs (from the Mitsumi CR-480ATE).

You should expect more 32x recorders also from Ricoh, AOpen, LiteOn, SamSung, LG, Plextor and Sony at the first quarter of 2002.

- The media

In order to benefit of the new writing speed, Mitsumi and the most manufacturers state that 32x certified media should be used. Most media manufacturers plan to ship 32x certified media in the first quarter of 2002. Ritek/Verbatim have already announced such media and for sure Taiyo Yuden, Mitsui, Ricoh and Mitsui will follow.

There are rumors that the 32x media supplied by some Taiwan manufactures will have a minimized thickness of the recording layer. As the recording layer become thinner, good sensitivity can be obtained (for such high recording speeds) but with cost in reliability. Let's hope that this will not become a reality...

- The package

The package, in which the drive arrived, contained a bare drive -engineering version- among with 5 pieces of 32x certified media (based upon Maxell Chemicals) for our recording speeds. The drive expected to hit the European market around the middle/end of January 2002.

The front of the drive is exactly the same as we witnessed in almost all the previous Mitsumi models. The drive doesn't have the Mitsumi logo on the front of it, while it has the "High-Speed RW" logo, which indicates its RW speed. You will also find only one led, the eject button and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

On the back of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for assigning the drive as a Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector and the analog/digital output connectors:

- Installation

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE was installed as a Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode and after booting, identified itself as the "CR-48XATE". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a November 2001 model with firmware revision vP1.02 installed. After a while Mitsumi provided newer firmware update (P1.05), which was used for revising the recording/CloneCD tests. The final mass production firmware would be 1.0A and as you understand will have fixed some few errors we mentioned. We used the Nero (, InCD (3.14), CloneCD ( and Padus DJ (3.50.818) for the recording tests.

- Test Machine

Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
Mitsumi CR-480ATE firmware vP1.02/vP1.05
PleXWriter PX-W2410A firmware v1.02
TEAC CD-524E firmware v1.0A
Yamaha CRW3200E firmware v1.0b

2. Data Tests

Mitsumi CR-480ATE IDE CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

- Test Method

* SCSI Mechanic v3.0x: This was used to compare the drive's I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.08 for all tests.

* Nero CD Speed v0.85 was also used to check the drive's performance with pressed CDs. For that test, we also used the PlexTools v1.08 pressed CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE seems improved over the previous 4809TE model and now gets the second place behind the PX-W2410A. The drive has the second "Average Sequential I/O" mark (4497Kb/s) and "Average Random I/O" mark (837Kb/s). The final mass production drive will possibly have a slightly better performance due to an improved firmware.

- Nero CD Speed v0.85 results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph)

The Nero CD Speed results confirmed our previous tests results. The Mitsumi drive gets the second place behind PleXWriter drive. It starts reading at 18.42X and also ends at 40.35X.

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE has rather high "Random Seek" results with 112ms. The TEAC CD-W524E is simply un-beatable with 77msecs and the Yamaha 3200E is also faster with 84ms.

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to the HD with CloneCD. We measured the reading time of the Mitsumi CR-480ATE, which is the second best with 265secs. The PleXWriter PX-W2410A does the same task at only 54secs:

- CDR Media: (Click to see the CD Speed graph)

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE gets the third place when reading CDR media. The PleXWriter keeps the first place and the TEAC drive follows.

3. HS-RW reading tests
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HS-RW reading tests

- Nero CD Speed v0.85 Results: (Click to see the graph)

For the RW tests we used the Mitsubishi Chemicals HS-RW media written at 10x/12x speeds. The Mitsumi CR-480ATE is currently the faster drive when HS-RW media is being used:

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.2.1.1) and 5 original CDs - Euro 2000 (SafeDisc 1), No One Lives For Ever (SafeDisc 2), Rally Masters (LaserLock 1), Desperados (LaserLock 2) and V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) - in order to test the reading time of the drive. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results of the already tested PleXWriter PX-W2410A, Yamaha CRW3200E and TEAC CD-W524E. The following picture shows the drive's reading/writing capabilities as CloneCD reports:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE performed very well with SafeDisc 1 CDs, outperforming Plextor PX-W2410A but stays in the second place behind Yamaha CRW3200E.

With SafeDisc2 protected CDs the performance is very good, but slower than with SafeDisc 1 CDs.

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

With LaserLock 1 protected CDs, the Mitsumi CR-480ATE performs very well, especially with the backup CD.

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE performed very well with LaserLock 2 protected CDs, with both original/backup CDs.

- SecuROM Results

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE does supports reading of SubChannel data from Data/Audio Tracks. The reading performance is very good and only Yamaha CRW3200E is faster.

4. DAE Tests

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DAE Tests

- Test Method

We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 software in order to check the DAE performance of the drive with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage was only taken from CD DAE 99, since EAC occupies the system a lot more. As a last note, we used the "BURST" reading mode of EAC. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speed along with the CPU Usage is displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features

We used EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, the drive doesn't "Caching" data, supports "Accurate Stream" and doesn't include "C2" error info. All 4 tested drives supports up to 40x (CAV) DAE speed.

- Pressed AudioCD results

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE performance with pressed Audio CDs wasn't enough for the drive to get one of the highest places in this roundup. The drive's average reading DAE ripping speed is 28.0X:

- CDR AudioCD results

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE has the same performance with CDR media, as with the pressed CDs. Again it gets the last place with 28.1X:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

After many requests from numerous visitors we have added the EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
PleXWriter PX-W2410A
Mitsumi CR-480ATE
Yamaha CRW3200E

- Advanced DAE Quality

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE gets a 100 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The drive's average reading speed was 28.69x and no errors were produced. As the following picture shows, the drive can read CD-Text/SubChannel Data:

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test stretches drive's mechanism to the max, we decided to do real life tests with a scratched disc. The disc was dirty, and with some light scratches, enough in order cause problems to most of the tested drives. We used CD DAE 99 software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) and the results were very interesting:

Average Speed (X)
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
PleXWriter PX-W2410A
Yamaha CRW3200E
Mitsumi CR-480ATE

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE didn't performed well with our bad CDR test disc. The drive reported 202102 errors while TEAC CD-W524E manages to have only one.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE recognizes both 90/99min AudioCDs without any problems.

5. CDR Tests
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CDR Tests

- Procedure

We tested the Mitsumi CR-480ATE with Nero v5.5.5.7, Ahead InCD v3.14, CloneCD v3.2.1.1 and, Padus DJ v3.50.818 software. We used various of media for performing our tests: Mitsubishi Chemicals 74/80min 24x certified, Mitsui 74min 24x certified, Taiyo Yuden 74/80min 24x certified, Ricoh 74min 24x certified and Ricoh's 74min HS-RW.

The Mitsumi drive includes a build-in mechanism, which automatically reduces the writing speed during the burn process. The drive doesn't limit the recording speed in the beginning of writing (inside the CDR software) but the final recording time unveils it. For the 32x recording tests, we used media based upon Maxell chemicals provided by Mitsumi and of course our 24x certified media.

- 74min CD-R Tests

We created a "DataCD" job with data slightly more than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all 4 CDR-W drives:

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE has the higher burning time at 16x (CLV) writing speed. It needs 314secs to end the task.

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE is not the faster 24x Z-CLV recorder, as the above graph shows. The drive needs 3:59mins to end the task, while both TEAC and PleXWriter drives are faster. The Yamaha CRW3200E is currently the faster 24x recorder.

- 80min CD-R Tests

In our normal burning tests the 80min CD contains slightly more than 80min data (80:01:47):

With 80min CDs, the Mitsumi CR-480ATE needs exactly the same time as the PleXWriter PX-W2410A. Both TEAC and Yamaha drives are faster.

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE drive needs 253secs to end the task, which is the higher recording time for a 24x Z-CLV writer. The Yamaha CRW3200E continues to lead the 24x-writing race.

- 32x writing speed

The above graph shows the main differences between 24x Z-CLV, 24x P-CAV and 32x Z-CLV recording speeds. The Mitsumi drive needs 218secs (3:39mins) to write a full 74min CD, which is:

- 18secs faster than TEAC CD-W524E
- 12secs faster than PleXWriter PX-W2410A
- 7 secs faster than Yamaha CRW3200E

Note that the simulation time for the same project is 3:26mins

With 80min CDs, the time differences with rest of the recorders are now higher:

- 20secs from PleXWriter PX-W2410A
- 18secs from TEAC CD-W524E
- 11secs from Yamaha CRW3200E

- Overburning Tests

Using Nero, we saw that the drive can overburn up to 99:00minutes!

- CD-Text Results

We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. The Mitsumi CR-480ATE cans read/write CD-Text AudioCDs without any problems.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD v3.2.1.1 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. We performed our usual tests and we confirmed that the drive supports fully the DAO-RAW writing mode (Safedisc 1.0, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2).

- SD2 Support
For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever", "Max Payne" and "Emperor Battle of Dune" game titles. We used the Mitsumi CR-480ATE both as reader/writer. The produced backup didn't work using the same or any drive we tested with. Therefore, the Mitsumi CR-480ATE cannot produce SD2 working backups.

- 8cm mini CDs

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE supports reading/writing of 8cm CDs.

6. Writing Quality Tests
Mitsumi CR-480ATE IDE CD-RW - Page 6

Writing Quality Tests

We used many medias ,mostly 24x certified, and burned them at the maximum 32x (Z-CLV) writing speed with the Mitsumi CR-480ATE drive. We used Nero and all CDs were Audio CDs with 74:51:27 in size. The produced CDs, were measured from DigitalDrives and results are illustrated in the following tables:

Mitsui 74min 24x media
Average Burning Time (secs)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
LiteOn LTR-24102B
AOpen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
AOpen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
Plextor PX-W2410A
Mitsumi CR-480ATE (32x->16x)

The Mitsumi CR-480AE didn't perform so well with Mitsui's 24x CD-R media. The drive needs 5:15mins to end the task. The drive lowered the recording speed down to 16x for writing Mitsui's 74min 24x media. The average 0.8 C1 error rate is very good:

Taiyo Yuden 74min 24x media
Average Burning Time (secs)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
LiteOn LTR-24102B
AOpen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
AOpen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
Plextor PX-W2410A
Mitsumi CR-480ATE (32x)

With Taiyo Yuden 74min 24x certified media, the Mitsumi CR-480ATE performed very well and not only has the lower recording time but also very low C1 error rate (0.1).

Mitsubishi Chemicals 74min 24x media
Average Burning Time (secs)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
LiteOn LTR-24102B
AOpen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
AOpen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
Plextor PX-W2410A
Mitsumi CR-480ATE (32x)

None of the tested drives seem to give a very good writing quality when Mitsubishi Chemicals (Verbatim) 74min 24x certified media used. The Mitsumi CR-480ATE however managed not only to have the lower C1 error rate, but also the lower recording time (due to 32x writing speed).

Various media at 32x writing speed
Average Burning Time (secs)
Ritek 80min 24x (32x->16x)
Taiyo Yuden 80min 24x
MitsuBishi Chemicals 80min 24x
Ricoh 80min 24x
Maxell 80min 32x
Mitsui 74min 16x (32x->16x)

Using various other media we noticed that in the cases of Ritek and Mitsui the drive lowered the recording speed down to 16x (32x was selected in the first place). Using Maxell based CDR media, the error rate is very high (25.6 average C1 errors),which can be explained since the media was probably prototype. However the Taiyo Yuden/Ricoh 80min 24x certified media seems working just fine.

7. RW Writing Tests

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RW Writing Tests

We used Nero for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives. The Mitsumi CR-480ATE supports not only 10x but also 12x re-writing speed, making it the faster re-writer at this category:

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE needs only 408secs to end the task. With 10x RW speed the drive needs 487sec. The CPU Usage is low and the erase time is under 60secs.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.14 for all Packet Writing tests with a Mitsubishi Chemicals HS-RW media. The formatted disc had 534mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media using Windows Explorer (we dragged and dropped) and we completed the test twice to eliminate any possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE has an 8.81X max packet-writing performance. The average reading speed (11.87X) should be considered low, compared to what Yamaha CRW3200E offers...

8. Conclusion

Mitsumi CR-480ATE IDE CDR-W - Page 8


Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports 32x writing (Z-CLV) speed
- Supports 12x re-writing (CLV) speed
- Includes 16MB Buffer (!!)
- "ExacLink" anti-coaster technology
- Supports 'Mt. Rainier' format
- Has build-in media quality detection system
- Low C1 errors when 24x/32x CDR media used
- No coasters at all recording speeds
- Good data reading performance with both CDR/pressed media
- Highest re-writing/packet writing performance
- Good DAE speeds
- Very good DAE ripping quality
- Supports HS-RW standard
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Very good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports Overburning (up to 99mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface

- Drive seems slower than 24x Z-CLV recorders at both 16x/24x recording speed.
- Sanyo's 32x writing speed would be faster
- Higher seek times than competition
- Many DAE errors when scrached media used
- Failed to backup SD2 protected CDs
- Low PSX ripping speed

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE is the first drive that reached our labs and supports 32x CD-R recording speed. The drive supports 32x (Z-CLV), 12x re-writing, and 40x reading speed among with 16Mb of buffer, ExacLink and 'Mt. Rainier' support.

The drive performance at 32x should not be considered as a major speed, compared to what 24x (especially 24x P-CAV) recorders can do. The time difference between Mitsumi and the faster 24x recorder, from Yamaha, is only 11secs (max), which is low. The writing strategy (16x-32x Z-CLV), which Mitsumi has chosen has the advantage that keeps the rotation speed under 8500rpm but also is slower than what the Sanyo 32x recorders can do.

The drive's re-writing speed is superb (12x) and the writing quality stays very good even at the maximum 32x writing speed. The built-in media quality system detection will prevent low quality media to be written at high speeds (24x/32x). The DAE ripping speed/quality performance must be improved to reach the competition. CloneCD users will be disappointed from the lack of SD2 support, but of course the Sanyo based 32x recorders doesn't support it either.

For making a safe conclusion about the 32x recording speed, we have to see how the competition would also perform. Stay tuned...

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