CD and DVD writing speed

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Original CD-ROM drives could read data at 150 kibibytes (150 × 210 bytes) per second. As faster drives were released, the write speeds and read speeds for optical discs were multiplied by manufacturers, far exceeding the drive speeds originally released onto the market. In order to represent this exponential growth in drive speeds, manufacturers used the symbol nX, whereby n is the multiple of the original speed. For example, writing to a CD at 8X will be twice as fast as writing onto a disc at 4X.[1]

CD, DVD and Blu-ray writing speeds[edit]

Media 1X speed Capacity
(GB)
Full Read Time
(min)
Mbit/s kB/s KiB/s
CD 1.229 153.6 150.0 0.734 80
DVD 11.080 1,385.0 1,352.5 4.7 57
Blu-ray Disc 36.000 4,500.0 4,394.5 25.0 93

Modern compact discs support a writing speed of 52X and higher, with some modern DVDs supporting speeds of 16X and higher. It is important to note that the speed of writing a DVD at 1X (1,385,000 bytes per second)[2] is approximately 9 times faster compared to writing a CD at 1X (153,600 bytes per second).[3] However, the actual speeds depend on the type of data being written to the disc.[4]

For Blu-ray discs, 1x speed is defined as 36 megabits per second (Mbit/s), which is equal to 4.5 megabytes per second (MB/s).[5] However, as the minimum required data transfer rate for Blu-ray movie discs is 54 Mbit/s, the minimum speed for a Blu-ray drive intended for commercial movie playback should be 2X.

Historically, the 1X writing speed is equivalent to the 1X reading speed, which in turn represents the speed at which a piece of media can be read in its entirety - 74 minutes. Those 74 minutes come from the maximum playtime that the Red Book (audio CD standard) specifies for a digital audio CD (CD-DA); although now, most recordable CDs can hold 80 minutes worth of data. The DVD and Blu-ray discs hold a higher capacity of data, so reading or writing those discs in the same 74-minute time-frame requires a higher data transfer rate.

Theoretical versus practical writing speed[edit]

Almost all of the modern CD/DVD burning software support selection of the speed at which the portable disc is written. However, the option a user chooses only defines the theoretical maximum of disc burning process. There are other factors that influence the time taken for a disc to be written to:

  • Resources available to the program: Reading or writing data on a disc consumes moderate to high level of system resources (including memory and CPU resources), and running other programs at the same time may force the CD/DVD drive to choose a lower speed automatically, to accommodate the available resources.
  • Disc quality: Optical disc recorders detect the available speed options based on the data which is available on the disc itself. However, some low quality discs make a high speed option available to the software, while the burning process can never reach that speed in practice.
  • The reading and writing process may not happen at a steady speed. CD drives and many early DVD drives stored data with constant linear velocity, so that the data rate remained the same regardless of the position of the optical head. Modern DVD drives use Zoned Constant Linear Velocity with different data rates in different zones.

Optimal writing speed[edit]

A higher writing speed results in a faster disc burn, but the optical quality may be lower (i.e. the disc is less reflective). If the reflectivity is too low for the disc to be read accurately, some parts may be skipped or it may result in unwanted audio artifacts such as squeaking and clicking sounds. For optimal results, it is suggested that a disc be burnt at its rated speed.[6][7]

Other media[edit]

Removable flash based storage is often rated in ratio to standard CD space. For example, a 100X flash card claims to be able to sustain 100 * 154 kB/s or 15.4 MB/s (100 * 150 KiB/s or 14.6 MiB/s). Read and write speeds will usually have different X ratings.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What is Read Speed? What is Write Speed?". MISCO. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  2. ^ http://www.osta.org/technology/dvdqa/dvdqa4.htm
  3. ^ http://www.osta.org/technology/cdqa5.htm
  4. ^ "Understanding CD-R and CD-RW recording speed". Optical Storage Technology Association. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  5. ^ "Blu-ray writing speed". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  6. ^ "Why does the speed at which you burn a CD make a difference?". SoundOnSound. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  7. ^ "Which write speed should I use?". feurio. Retrieved 2007-09-08.