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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 40x CD-RW

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

1. Introduction

TEAC CD-W540E IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction

as Plextor, introduced directly a 40x CD-RW drive, skipping entirely the 32x recording platform. The company's previous model, CD-W524E was a very solid drive that earned our "Editor's Choice Award" and this made many users, including us, to wait for the new drive with great expectations. We compare side to side almost all current 40x recording solutions from Plextor, LiteOn, ASUS and of course TEAC. Which drive performed better at our test bench? Which drive has the wider media compatibility and gives the lower recording times among with maximum quality? Let's find out…

- Features

According to TEAC there are several new improvements over previous models:

Fine Focus Control

Most manufacturers"…The required strength of the laser varies greatly with writing and reading processes. With the movement of the write head with conventional CD-R (W) drives, faults often occur when writing and reading. TEAC has made a breakthrough with the new "Fine Focus Control" technology, in that the laser always remains constant and never enters a "jitter mode". The laser remains precisely in the same position on the track, regardless of the speed. This key CD writing technology from TEAC enables the high recording quality with very high speeds…"

The top left picture shows the solution from most manufacturers. Below is what TEAC proposes:

Intelligent Speed Control

A further qualitative improvement is the "Intelligent Speed Control" technology, which sufficiently tests the status of the CD before the writing process using various parameters in order to determine the highest writing speed with the best possible quality. For example, the number of tracks, disk balance, strength of the laser, type of disk and any possible vibrations with higher rotation speeds are all tested.

Mount Rainier Industry Standard

The drive is Mt. Rainier format ready, un-like to some other 40x CD-RW drives, as it currently stands. Plextor, Sanyo and other manufacturers plan to support it with a firmware upgrade in the near future.

Mount Rainer is a collection of specifications that is designed to enable problem-free use of CD-RW media. Instead of supplementary programs, the support is anchored in the hardware and in the operating system. The core of the specification is the division of the media into two-kilobyte blocks, a management for faults in the drive and a background formatting of the media. Using traditional CD-RW media in a Mount Rainer environment is as easy as pre-formatting floppy disks.

Other features:

*New advanced servo circuit to make the accurate track positioning.
* High speed ROPC (Running Optimum Power Control) based on the sampling at approx. 4,800 times per second. It enables the optimal recording not only from the most inner track to the outer most track, but also for any portion on each track.
* Rugged mechanical chassis using 1.2mm thick of metal-sheet. It minimizes the vibration, which affects the recording quality.

- Specs

TEAC CD-W540E uses an optical pickup from Sanyo Electric Co. LTD, type: SF-W33L with laser output > 2.0mW (Play) and 56mW (Record) on the objective lens and wavelength of 780-786nm laser output.

The recording speeds are: 4X, 8X, 16X, 20x (CLV) & 20x(16x)-24x, 20x(16x)-32x and 20x(16x)-40x (Z-CLV). The value in parentheses is applied during writing in CD-DA, CD-ROM XA Mode 2 Form 1 and CD-ROM XA Mode 2 Form 2. The re-writing speeds are 4x, 10x & 12x (CLV).

The drive's maximum reading speed is 48x (CAV) for CD-ROM Mode 1, CD-ROM XA Mode 2 Form 1 and CD-RW formats. For the "CD-DAE, CD-ROM XA Mode 2 Form 2" formats, maximum speed is reduced to 40x (CAV). TEAC again (!) reduces the seek time standards and this time specifications give an average seek time down to 72ms (!).

The drive has the industry's biggest MTBF (>100.000, 5years designed life) and comes with 8MB of buffer among with "Write-Proof" technology (Sanyo's BURN-Proof).

Even TEAC said that drive supports 8MB buffer, CD-R software reports that the drive has only 6746KB. TEAC explanation is clear "…6746KB is actual usable area of the 8MB Buffer and historically, TEAC drive reports usable area. However, all or most of CD-RW suppliers' way of report is different and we are the only supplier who reports actual size. Our engineers believe reporting actual size is better, kind to the user. However, after we received many questions on this issue, we decided to show 8MB, instead of actual usable area to avoid confusion. This will be fixed with upcoming v1.0C firmware revision…"

In addition, TEAC says that the buffer is 2M bytes under MRW mode and 4M bytes during read.

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