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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 12x CD-RW

Sunday, December 16, 2001
Acer CRW1208A CD-RW

1. Introduction

Acer CRW1208 IDE CDR-W - Page 1

Introduction:
Acer has a long tradition in making CDR-W drives. The CRW1208A is the first ever CDR-W drive that supports "Seamless Link" anti-coaster technology: "...The conventional CD-R/CDRW drive can't stop the recording process during recording while the buffer under run error happened and re-start the recording process while the data received again.

The critical issue was how close the gap between the stop and restart point could be controlled to let the recorded data satisfy the standard and be read back without any problem. The traditional solution for the buffer under run problem was: Enlarge the buffer size to accumulate more data to prevent the error happened. But the Seamless Link technology is a new function, which is developed to prevent the Buffer Under Run problem automatically by predicting them before they happen. The working principle of Seamless Link was list as following:

- Monitoring the amount of data, which buffered during writing.
- Stop the writing process and store the RecEnd address if there is any problem which causes the amount of data in the memory below a certain level - Waiting on the Pause state and receiving the new data to fill the buffer memory
- Seek to the in advance of RecEnd address to find the exactly RecEnd point
- Re-Start the recording process

The original idea for "Seamless link" is from Philips. Acer modified the specifications in co-operation with Phillips and for now is the only manufacturer to use this technology. The "Seamless Link" Technology is completely controlled through the Firmware. No hardware modification is necessary.

There are two key different between "Seamless-Link" and "BURN-Proof " - "Just-Link":

1. "BURN-Proof" and "Just-Link" need extra IC(s) to provide the function, which means that if you purchase the extra IC, you would get the patent. Sanyo for example have released this IC and technical information to many companies (like Plextor, TEAC, Lite-On..), but Ricoh haven't.

2. Because "SeamLess Link" doesn't need any extra IC to support the Buffer-Under-run proof function, it also don't need to do any setting on writing software to enable this function. This means that you don't have to "turn-on" this technology in CDR software, since it is enabled from default. "BURN-Proof and "Just-Link" basic status is turn-off so you must use the software to turn on it.

Till this moment there is no clear information about the gap length of "SeamLess Link" technology. Acer seems not planning to licence this technology in the near future to other manufacturers. We are not informed about Philips future plans.

Supplied Package:
The package supplied was the retail Europe version. This included: The drive itself, the user guide, MS-DOS drivers, 1 High Speed RW Blank (4x-8x), Audio cables and mounting screws. The software supplied with the CRW1208A was: Nero Burning ROM v5.0.3.3 and Ahead InCD v1.69 (for packet writing use). Last there is a nice quick Nero 5.0x setup guide for the daily tasks.

The front of the drive contains the logo of Acer among with the drive features "12/8/32". Also you will find the 2 leds (red is writing, green is for reading), the eject button, the play/stop button for audiocds and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

At the back of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for making the drive Master/Slave, the analog/ SPDIF output connector. The HS-RW media comes from Acer with the following features (ripped from CDR Identifier):

ATIP: 97m 22s 60f
Disc Manufacturer: Acer Media Technology, Inc.
Assumed Dye type: Cyanine (Type 0)
Media type: CD-ReWritable
Recording Speeds: min. 4X - max. 8X
nominal Capacity: 656.20MB (74m 41s 50f / LBA: 335975)

Installation:

ATAPI CDR-W drives are simple to install. Just decide what the drive should be, master or slave, set the appropriate jumper and start! After booting, the CDR-W identified itself as the ATAPI CD-R/RW 12X8X32. We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted. The drive was a February 2001 model with firmware revision v9.GB. The strange thing is that the drive's top label said that the drive has 9.EB firmware..

For most of our tests we used Nero 5.0.4.8 among with InCD v2.09 and CloneCD v2.8.4.3 and PadusDJ v3.00.800. Even the CloneCD author haven't announced official support for Acer 1208 and "SeamLess Link" the "BURN-Proof/JustLink" feature is checked from default.

Test Machine:
WinMe OS
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
ATI AIW 128
Acer CRW1208 firmware v9.GB
PlexWriter PX-W1210A firmware v1.07 (TLA#000)
Ricoh MP7120A firmware v1.20
Ricoh MP7125A firmware v1.00




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