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Appeared on: Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Yamaha CRW2100E CD-RW

1. Introduction
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Introduction :
Yamaha Japan
Yamaha is well known to CDR users from its long history. If we go back in the past we will find that it made a lot of breakthrough moves by leading the recording race. Yamaha drives were the fastest drives from 1990 (100x series) to 1998 (4416x series). However at that point Yamaha stayed back in the developing of CDR-W drives. The competition (Plextor) started using Sanyo laser pick-ups (and chips) so the result was that at the same time that Yamaha was introducing an 8x-writing drive (8424x series) the competition had already shipped a 12x solution (Plextor PX-W124TS). We witnessed the exact same situation when Yamaha shipped it's 8x re-writing drive (8824x series), the competition again was faster and was already introducing 10x re-writing solutions.

It became quite obvious to the power users that if Yamaha didn't present something unique and fast, the future would be very dark. The time had come for a change in the company's main philosophy, which was: "..All parts of the CDR-W drive MUST come from Yamaha and not relying to other manufactures.."

OAK 9795 ChipSet which used from Yamaha CRW2100EThe door opened for possible co-operation with other manufacturers, in order to regain the lost ground. Yamaha had two possible manufactures that could co-operate: OAK Technologies and Cirrus Logic. Yamaha chose as an ally the OAK Technologies , since the Cirrus Logic chipset was/is used by Sony and Philips. The CRW2100E uses 2 chipsets (one from OAK and one from Yamaha) and the pickup is made from Yamaha. The CRW2100x series drives according to Yamaha includes various enchaments over the previous models:

- 16x writing/10x re-writing/40x reading:
Yamaha CRW2100E is the first CDR-W drive that supports 16x writing. However 16x writing uses partial CAV writing technology. What is partial CAV technology?

"...CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) method uses a constant disc rotation speed at any portion of the disc whereas the data transfer rate will vary. Because CAV method has an advantage to largely increase the data transfer rate with a minimum load to the drive's mechanism (compared to CLV's rotation speed adjustment), many of current CD-ROM drives use CAV method. CD formats define the constant linear density of written data (data should be written onto the disc track in the constant pitch) so that amount of recorded data per disc rotation will increase as the writing point moves from the inner to the outer. In other words, in CAV writing the outer portion has an increased data transfer rate.

The CRW2100 series uses CAV method in the inner portions as well as CLV method in the outer portions (Partial CAV) in order to enable up to 16X-speed writing while pursuing high-quality. The drive will control the disc rotation speed to start writing at 12X speed in the inner portions, gradually accelerating up to 16X speed and maintaining 16X speed in the outer portions..."

In other words the Yamaha will start writing CDs at 12x until the 14th min and then will continue writing at 16x untill the end of the disc. Also as the above graph states that it won't be as fast as 16x CLV recording. Why Yamaha has chosen the partial CAV as the default writing mode instead of 16x CLV? The new Yamaha supports 10x re-writing. Or not? Actually Yamaha supports 8x re-writing (CLV) when used for RW writing and 4x-10x re-writing (CAV) when used for packet writing tasks. This we could say it's a marketing trick since the drive re-writes at 10x only under specific conditions. Finally the CRW2100x series supports up to 40x reading. That means it will be the fastest drive around and also support up to 40x DAE!!!

- 8MB of Buffer:
The Yamaha drive also doesn't include any kind of anti-coaster technology in order to avoid buffer underruns. The only manufacturers, which have developed such technologies, are Ricoh and Sanyo. In order to avoid those kinds of problems Yamaha included an 8MB Buffer in the drive. That is supposed to solve the buffer underrun problems but the software will play a major role here. You will read later how the drive performs in this area.

- Pure Phase Laser System:
Yamaha's Pure Phase Laser System eliminates unwanted reflections and glare produced when recording a CD, and stabilizes the laser power, resulting in more accurate recording and reduction of jitter (deviation from correct signals) by 25%, ensuring high recording reliability even at high speeds. Both your audio and data recordings will be of a higher quality, and there is less risk of non-compatibility in CD ROM playback."

- Optimum Write Speed Control
Even though the CRW2100 has very fast recording capability, it still has to check if the media is capable of performing at such speeds. Before writing to CD-R, the CRW2100 checks the media's capability and automatically selects the optimum writing speed, to improve reliability. That means if you try writing at 16x with 8x certified media, Yamaha CRW2100E will automatically lower the write speed to 12x in order to protect the quality of the produced CD. Most current 12x certified media will work fine at 16x.

2. Installation
Yamaha CRW2100E IDE CDR-W - Page 2

- Package:
The OEM version that arrived at our offices included the drive (CRW2100E) and Ez CD Creator 4.02d-S25 version and the manual (very useful for novice users). The retail box will include additional Yamaha CDR and HS-RW media, IDE cable, screws and Audio cable. Yamaha plans also to ship SCSI (CRW2100S or CRW2100SX) and FireWire (CRW2100IX) versions soon. You can see the specs for the ATAPI model (2100e) over here.

The front of the CRW2100E is very typical. It includes the "16/10/40" logo as well the HS-RW standard logo. The drive uses only one lens for letting you know what exactly the drive do (red when writing, green when reading). Finally, you will find the manual eject hole and the headphone jack/volume control which most CD-Rom/RW drives have.

In the back of the drive you can see the usual connectors for IDE devices as well a short description above them. No cooling fan is supplied with the drive, which in all our tests seems to have a normal temperature even after a long use.

- Installation:
Installing the Yamaha CRW2100E was an easy process. We placed the drive as master in the secondary bus. During boot-up, the BIOS identified the drive as Yamaha CRW2100E. We then made some minor configuration changes to Windows ME. These were: disabling auto-insert notification and checking DMA (very important). The supplied drive was manufactured in September 2000 and the onboard firmware revision was version 1.0D. We also installed the bulked Ez CD Creator 4.02d-s25 for tests but we mainly used Nero InCD v1.67. Yamaha released 1.0h firmware which now fixes various bugs and finally supports DAO-RAW. Highly recommended!

Yamaha also have teamed up with Ahead and offers Fast Audio Rip for getting 40x DAE ripping speed. The program seems very familiar with Ahea's coming Media Recorder and actually is an CD Player which also can rip wav files from AudioCDs. It also supports Equalizer, Skins, Nero's CD-Database. Yamaha CRW2100E owners might want to check it since it's free ;)

Note that according to the manual, you must have at least PII at 300mhz with a fast HD in order to be able to enjoy the drive. If not you will probably get poor performance. We also changed the test pc configuration from previous tests and for comparison reasons we re-measured all previous tested drives in order to have a clear view of the competition.

- Test Machine:
WinMe OS
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
Plextor UltraPlex 40max firmware v1.04
PlexWriter PX-W1210S firmware v1.00 (TLA#000)
PlexWrtier PX-W1210A firmware v1.05 (TLA#000)
Yamaha CRW2100E firmware v1.0D

3. Data Tests

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Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0: This was used to compare the Yamaha's I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.06 for all of the tests.
- CD Speed 99 v0.75 was also used to check the drive performance with pressed CDs. For that test we used PlexTools v1.06 original CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0 results:

As you can see from the graph above, the CRW2100E rules the SCSI Mechanic tests due to increased 40x (max) reading speed. It gave the best "Average Sequential I/O" (4291kb/s) and "Average Same Sector I/O" (16447kb/s) results compared to the Plextor and Ricoh models.

- CD Speed 99 v0.75 results:

Using CD Speed 0.75, we can see that the CRW2100E clearly is the fastest CDR-W drive you can buy now days. The Plextor and Ricoh models of course cannot reach it (since they have 32x reading speed) and stay behind.

The CRW2100E continues to perform very good and seems to be able to compete Plextor but not Ricoh drives.

Verdict of data (pressedCDs) tests:
The Yamaha CRW2100E is without any doubt, for now, the fastest CDR-W drive you can buy. This is expected since it is the first drive that supports 40x-reading speed while the competition still supports 32x. Its average reading speed using PlexTools v1.06 was 28.83x, PX-W1210A/S and MP7120A were much lower with a 24x average. It's seek times are also better than the Plextor models but cannot reach the Ricoh's one. In the SCSI Mechanic tests, the CRW2100E continues to deliver the best performance and gets in the first place in most tests. The drive delivered an average sequential reading result of 4.29mb/s, which is about 14% faster than the competition. The drive also has the best "Average Same Sector I/O" and that shows the work of Yamaha technicians. The negative point of the drive's performance is the noise that the drive generates when reading at max speed. Very annoying :(

4. RW reading tests

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RW reading tests

For the RW tests we used Ricoh HS RW media written at 8x speed. Why not 10x speed? The Yamaha CRW2100E refused to read HS RW media that was written at 10x so we lowered the speed to 8x in order to complete the test:

The CRW2100E continues to read very fast RW media and gave back the best average reading speed around 30x!

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v2.8.3.1) and 3 original CDs (Rally Masters, Euro2000 and Vrally 2 Expert) in order to test the reading time for Yamaha CRW2100E (firmware v1.0D). We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs since the reading speed varies among original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results from Plextor PX-W1210A/S and Ricoh MP7120A.

- Results:

a) SafeDisc Results: Euro 2000 (Total: 257982 sectors - 10141 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

The Yamaha CRW2100E leads the race when reading SafeDisc protected CDs.

The Yamaha CRW2100E not only leads but also improves the reading speed when used the backup CD.

b) LaserLock Results: Rally Masters (Total: 321528 sectors - 6317 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

As we expected most drives have serious problem when reading LaserLock protected CDs. The CRW2100E comes second behind MP7120A but ahead both Plextor drives.

This time PX-W1210S gave the best performance. The CRW2100E comes third behinds MP7120A.

c) SecuROM Results:

The Yamaha CRW2100E simple rules the SecuROM tests. It reads it with incredible fast speed and bypass the competition with great distance gap. Of course we have tested the backup ,with Yamaha as the reader source, and it worked fine.

Verdict of CloneCD Tests:
The Yamaha CRW2100E is an excellent reader. The increased max speed (40x) helps it bypass the competition (both Plextor and Ricoh drives) in most tests. It showed a not-that-good performance with LaserLock protected CDs, which most drives anyway read very slowly. The drive can not only can read SubChannel data but also do it very FAST! Notice that the Yamaha 2100E seems a very good drive to use for SD2 protection (reading part..).

5. DAE Tests

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DAE Tests

Test Method:
We used CD DAE 99 v0.2 with AudioCDs in order to check DAE performance of the Yamaha CRW2100E and we compared it with the Plextor PX-W1210A/S and Ricoh MP7120A models.

- Pressed AudioCD results:
Yamaha advertises that the new CRW2100x series drives are capable of doing DAE up to 40x (max). Our tests confirmed that claim and with pressed CDs Yamaha CRW2100E is the new leader in the DAE race. It managed to deliver 27.8x average ripping speed bypassing the competition by 14%:

- Princo 74min AudioCD:
The CRW2100E continues to lead the race of the fastest DAE drive around and climbs up to 28.1x. The PX-W1210S comes second with 23.7x; MP7120A third with 22.5 and PX-W1210A comes last with only 21.6x:

- Advanced DAE Quality:

Yamaha engineers worked also very hard in the DAE area and this showed off by getting 100 (perfect) score i the Advanced DAE quality CD Speed tests. Of course the competition also gets 100 score but Yamaha is a lot faster. Last Yamaha CRW2100E seems be able to read 90min CDs without any problem and stops reading at around 92mins when we use 99min CDs.

Verdict of DAE Results:
The Yamaha CRW2100E has clearly the fastest DAE performance for a CDR-W drive since it delivers 28x average ripping speed. Its max speed is 40x (which never achieved it) but in most cases you will see max 38x. Also the drive's DAE quality is perfect which is also what the competition has got. We guess that until other manufacturers ship 40x reading capable CDR-W drives, Yamaha CRW2100E will keep the first place.

6. CDR Tests

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CDR Tests

The Yamaha CRW2100E is the first recorder that supports 16x writing (even partial). The specifications state: Writing: 1X, 2X, 4X, 8X, 12X (CLV), 16X (12X-16X Partial CAV). As you understand, partial CAV is not as fast as full 16x CLV would be. According to Yamaha the difference in time would have been less than 15sec but we cannot confirm that since there is no 16x CLV drive out yet! Sanyo's CRD-BP4 is supposed to support full 16x CLV writing, so when it arrives we would have a better idea about the time differences of the two technologies.

The newest CD Speed v0.8 has build-in write tests for testing the writer's recording speed! If you insert a blank CD and press the start button you will see that the drive will start recording in start from 12.36x and at the 14mins climbs up to 16x and continues till the end. According to CD Speed the average writing speed of the Yamaha CRW2100E is 15.67x:

- Procedure:
We tested the Yamaha CRW2100E with the software that supports it and with several media:

- Software used: Nero v5.0.3.1 /  CloneCD v2.8.3.1 / Ez CD Creator 4.0d-s25
- Media: Princo 74 & 80min / Ricoh Platinum 74 & 80min / Mitsui Gold & SG / TDK 74 & 80 min / Verbatim 74min / Ricoh HS RW / TDK HS RW media

- CD-R Tests:
The Yamaha CRW2100E comes with Ez CD Creator v4.0d-s25. We got the latest update to 4.0e and we made some burns with it. The Ez CD Creator worked ok at most cases but it becomes very sensitive when the multitasking time comes. If you pressure the system it won't be able to continue writing. On the other hand Nero surprised us since it manages to be very solid and you must push your system hard to make a buffer underrun. Remember that the drive doesn't support any kind of anti-coaster technology as the competition does (BURN-Proof or JustLink).

For most of our tests we used Nero v5.0.3.1. We made a Data CD job with data slight higher than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all 4 CDR-W drives:

The CRW2100E and MP7120A gave the lower burning times (404sec) compared to the PX-W1210A/S. The Average CPU usage is higher than the competition but this must be a troubling point. Of course most people will prefer the 16x writing option instead of 12x but we had to do the tests anyway ;)

- 80min CDs:
As previous we created a DataCD with Nero and used the same media for all burns:

As we saw before with the 74min CDs, all of four drives had timing differences between them. The Yamaha CRW2100E finished the task in 438 sec, 2 more than MP7120A and 2 less than Plextor based drives.

- 16x partial CAV against 12x CLV:

Here is the most interesting point of the burning tests. How much time a CD would take to burn with a 16x partial CAV writing speed? Our tests showed that the CRW2100E took 319 secs (5:19min) for finishing a full 74min and 358 secs (5:58min) for a full 80min CD. The above times are a bit higher than the one Yamaha gives, since they include the lead-in and lead-out writing times.

- Overburning Tests:
The CRW2100E can burn 90min CDs without any problems. We used 90min CDs (from Medea International) and by using Nero we burned them up to 89mins without any problem at 16x (6:38mins). The drive refuses to write more than 89mins that means you cannot use the drive for writing 99min (or higher) CDs.

- AudioCD Tests:
We created several Audio CDs (including CD-Text). All of the CDs we created, were tested with the Plextor PX-40TS and Plextor's CD-Text compatible CD player. From what we saw, everything worked just fine.

- CloneCD Tests:
Yamaha added DAO-RAW support with 1.0h firmware revision. In order to use the Yamaha 2100E/S you need to get the v2.8.4.1 version of CloneCD which now supports fully the drive. Notice that the DAO-RAW works perfectly and will help you backup your favorite protected CDs. Last the Yamaha 2100E seems behaving very good for SD2 protection and will make accurate images. But still you will need a Philips based recorder to backup it.

- Buffer Underrun tests:
You must have understood so far that the drive doesn't support any kind of anti-coaster technology. According to Yamaha the combination of 8mb buffer and LSI chipsets will prevent any buffer underrun. Can this be true? Yes and no. Lets do some tests here. Shall we?

The OEM/retail package of CRW2100x series arrives with Ez CD Creator v4.0d-s25, which supports 16x-writing speed. It worked ok for most tests except the ones for buffer underruns. It's weakness it's obvious when you will start to multitask several applications. On the other hand Nero seems very stable ,at least when burning at 16x from HD, even when you start pressure your PC. However if you overdo it the coaster will come..

When the time comes, both software seems very unstable when it comes the time for CD-to-CD copy especially for AudioCD duplicate. Again Nero works slight better but a coaster will come if multitasking starts. Yamaha suggests not using for CD-to-CD Copy at 16x any IDE devices (at least in the same IDE channel). We used Plextor PX-40TS for several on the fly copies ,with Nero, and when we pressured the machine we got buffer underruns. That means that high-speed writing really needs anti-coaster technologies - such as existing BURN-Proof or JustLink (or a faster drive than Plextor PX-40TS ;)

Verdict of CDR Results:
The Yamaha CRW2100E performed very well in most of our CDR Tests. The drive supports 16x-writing speed, which even thought is not full 16x (15.67x average), works very good. The 8mb buffer and the proper software will generally protect you from buffer underruns. Don't expect miracles. With normal use (Internet Surfing, Word, Excel) the drive will wring at 16x without any problems. Problems will appear when you start opening many applications. If they also use the HD very much you will probably get a coaster. The drive supports DAO-RAW ,even with a newer firmware update, and users will find it useful. Last the drive supports overburning and goes only up to 89mins as most the other drives do.

7. RW Writing Tests

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RW Writing Tests

The Yamaha CRW2100E disappoints at that point since it doesn't support 10x (CLV) writing speed with HS RW media. This was confirmed from the specs: Re-Writing: 2X, 4X, 8X (CLV) in DAO, TAO mode, 10X (4X-10X Full CAV) in Fixed Packet Writing. That means the drive is not real 10x write capable since it writes only 10x under packet writing (which most users don't use anyway). As Yamaha informed us about this subject:

"...10x ReWriting" is only available in case of below (a) + (b) ;
(a) Writing to a high speed ReWritable disk
(b) Writing with PACKET WRITING !

10x ReWriting will be done by using "CAV" writing so that the writing speed will vary according to the position on the disk. At an inner side of a disk, writing starts with 4x and it goes up to 10x at the MOST OUTER side. Please note that it is NOT POSSIBLE to SELECT 10x BY YOURSELF and there is no way to confirm the current speed on writing softwares. The CRW2100 will select the speed and make it change automatically..."

We used Nero for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives. Yamaha CRW2100E of course since it didn't supported 10x writing gave the bigger time with 600sec when the MP7120A had the best (479sec) and Plextor drives came second with 488sec. The Yamaha also gave back the biggest erase time when erasing HS RW media:

- Packet Writing Tests:
We used Ahead InCD v1.67 for all Packet Writing tests. We used Ricoh HS RW media and we formatted it. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. After formatting, we tested all four drives for their packet writing performance. Below is the properties tab for the Yamaha CRW2100E. Even we selected the 10x write option the drive seems to ignore that and returned to 8x option automatically.

The formatted disc had 530mbs 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 explorer (we dragged and dropped) we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user error:

The results really show that Yamaha's approach to packet writing is very bad (supposed to be 4x-10x). All other 3 drives are way faster when writing/reading HS RW media in packet writing mode. However not many users use packet writing so it shouldn't be a drawback. Again, however, we must say that we hoped that Yamaha, the pioneer of RW technology, would have better performance than the competition.

Verdict of CDR-W Results:
The Yamaha CRW2100E is not the best choice for RW writing. Even though the drive supports the new HS RW writing mode, it misses to support the higher (10x) writing speed of it. The competition supports 10x writing and CRW2100E cannot have any chance against it. Even in the packet-writing test, which Yamaha supposed to support 10x, the speed is not competitive. It is actually 4x and increases to 10x at the end of the disc. That is probably why the results (4.96x writing) were very bad. The competition is nearly 30% faster.

8. Conclusion

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Positive (+) :

Negative (-) :

- First 16x writer on the market
- 8MB of Buffer
- Very stable when using proper software
- Best DATA reading performance around
- Best DAE ripping performance around
- Very good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Build-in protection for low quality media (lowers auto writing speed)
- Supports (even partial) HS RW standard
- Supports CD-Text
- Supports Overburning (write up to 89mins)
- Good price

- Not true 10x re-write drive :(
- Failed to read 10x HS RW written media
- Bad packet writing performance
- You need fast PC for enjoy it!
- Noise when reading at max speed

The Yamaha CRW2100E is a very interesting drive from many aspects. It is the first drive that supports 16x writing speed and 40x reading speed. Those two features are the best weapons against the hard competition from other manufacturers. However there are some features, which don't help the drive to claim the title of the best recorder around. The lack of 10x writing speed and of any anti-coaster technology is what really you will miss from the drive. The long awaited DAO-RAW feature is added ,with v1.0h firmware, and will be useful for power users.

So we will come again in the position of the possible buyer and we will wonder ourselves why or not should buy the drive. You must read our review carefully and decide. As almost every drive we have tested is has some positive and negative points, which will determine your final decision. The Yamaha's CRW2100E, which supports 16x writing speed, is the fastest drive around until other manufactures ship their 16x solutions. When this should happen? It is unclear yet but we suspect after in the first quarter of 2001...

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