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Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by CRTGAMER Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:27 am

Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs
This is such an important topic, I included quotes from other members from the "Game Boy Advance games today" Thread. I also updated this OP with more information on the how a pressed disc and burned disc are created.

There are different points of view on if a burned disc shortens the life of a disc based console/movie disc player or if the burned disc has little affect. Feel free to post with your take on the burned discs.

Ziggy587 wrote:
ElkinFencer10 wrote:Burned discs put more strain on the laser and shorten their lifespan, do they not? Or is that just a Dreamcast issue?
Some people say that the burned discs require more power to the laser to be read, so that will cause the drive to wear out faster. "Faster" is a relative term though. This might be more of a concern on some console versus others. Some people straight up call bullshit on this claim.

It might be a crap shot either way. The drive on my Wii acts up with grinding noises, and that has nothing to do with burns or pressed discs. My point is that your drive can malfunction in many ways, so why be so concerned with just one?

This reference needs to be placed in any Burn Guide
Burned discs will make a laser work harder eventually shortening its life. How quickly is not clear, just imagine how the pits are formed on a commercial pressing vs a home disc burner. 3 to 5 billion pits average per disc. A lot of zeros and ones that all have to be copied from the master pressed disc with exact spacing.

1. The factory pressed disc will have industry quality closer tolerance placed pits vs a home burner unit.

2. The pit reflective properties of a pressed disc are superior to the dye of a burned disc.


CD AND DVD DISC DETAILS
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BLURAY vs DVD vs CD PIT SIZES
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Ziggy587 wrote:I'd like to know more about the technology of older drives versus newer drives. If you tell me a Sega CD or something of that era need to work harder, supply more power to the laser, etc, to read burns versus pressed discs, I wont disagree. But by the time the Dreamcast and PS2 came out, burning music CDs was a very popular thing to do. Optical disc based consoles make a thing out of "Look, you can play audio CD's too!" So you'd have to wonder if they took into account that people would be playing CD-Rs, and the drive technology can accommodate that.

Just look at dedicated audio CD players. Older CD players, ones that were made before CD burners were common place, can have a hard time reading CD-Rs. Some older units can't read burns at all. Even those that are in mint condition, it's the drive itself. Newer CD players can read CD-Rs no problem, in fact the manufactures expect you to use them. They often advertise the drive being able to play mp3 CDs, and a mixed CD-R became the new mixed tape.

My point is, I'm not sure how valid this argument is on newer drives. Of course, the Gamecube is kind of an oddity in that it used mini DVDs. The console doesn't even have a built in CD player. You can argue that Nintendo never intended the drive to read burned discs.

Sarge wrote:
Ziggy587 wrote:
Sarge wrote:I'm not entirely sure about this, but do consoles actually adjust the power of their laser reading mechanisms, or do they employ a constant energy consumption? If the intensity doesn't adjust (and I'm going to take a guess that they don't, given that most attempts to resuscitate drive revolve around potentiometer adjustments), the only thing that will cause issues is if you're having trouble reading the disc. Having to make multiple reads and use a lot of ECC just to work is going to cause the laser to break down more quickly, not unlike the constant strain that playing DVDs in a console will.

I use burned media on my Sega CD and Saturn, as those drives don't seem to be picky at all with what I use in it. My PlayStation, on the other hand, has always had issues with trying to read burned media, and I suspect continuing down that route would have led the system to meeting an early demise... not that they were spectacularly constructed in the first place.
Yeah, I'm not sure if the PS1 is a good example. On one hand, they touted it as a music CD player, but it was also before the time that CD-Rs were as common as the mixed tape. At least, in the early life of the console. The earliest revisions are also notorious for having bad drives, even the mid-life revisions aren't too great. And that's with pressed discs, let alone burns.
Yeah, I had one of the last revisions (9001, I think?), and it read pressed discs like a champ, but barfed on burned media. Particularly when it came to XA audio or FMVs. I know that they can typically be tweaked a bit to improve burned disc reading, but I suspect that's jacking up the laser power and thusly burning it up faster. It did so well with regular games that I didn't want to touch it, anyway.

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Chris Woodford. wrote:CD and DVD players
http://www.explainthatstuff.com/cdplayers.html

What is a <Pressed> CD?

CDs are made from an original "master" disc. The master is "burned" with a laser beam that etches bumps (called pits) into its surface. A bump represents the number zero, so every time the laser burns a bump into the disc, a zero is stored there. The lack of a bump (which is a flat, unburned area on the disc, called a land) represents the number one. Thus, the laser can store all the information sampled from the original track of music by burning some areas (to represent zeros) and leaving other areas unburned (to represent ones). Although you can't see it, the disc holds this information in a tight, continuous spiral of about 3-5 billion pits. If you could unwrap the spiral and lay it in a straight line, it would stretch for about 6 km (roughly 3.5 miles)! Each pit occupies an area about two millionths of a millionth of a square meter. That's pretty tiny!

Once the master disc has been made, it is used to stamp out millions of plastic duplicates—the CDs that you buy and put into your music player or computer. Once each disc is pressed, it's coated with a thin aluminum layer (so it will reflect laser light), covered with protective polycarbonate and lacquer, and the label is printed on top.
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Recordable CDs and DVDs
A CD-R writer has a higher-powered laser than normal, which generates heat when it strikes the disc, "burning" the dye and making a tiny black spot. Later, when a CD reader aims its laser at that spot, the light is completely absorbed and doesn't reflect back. This indicates that a zero ("0") is stored on the disc at that point. In places where the dye is unburned, the laser light reflects straight back again, indicating that a "1" is stored on the disc. See where this is going? By creating areas of "burned" dots, and other places where the dye is left alone, a CD-R writer creates a pattern of binary zeros and ones that can be used to store information. That, incidentally, is why CD-R writers are often called . Unfortunately, once the dye is "burned" it's permanently transformed: you can't change it back again. And that's why you can only write a CD-R disc once. Just in passing, we should note that, although CD writers are widely referred to as CD burners, they do not actually burn things (combust them with oxygen): they simply use a laser to change the light-sensitive dye.

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Older game consoles will continually be harder to replace as years go by, a good idea to do whatever possible to prolong the life. I lean to the better quality control of a pressed disc over a home burned disc. So many pits that will not have that same tight spacing tolerance on a home burned disc compared to industry pressings. Throw in the reflective qualities of the burned disc dye vs the pressed disc.

Given a choice, always best to use a pressed disc over reading a CDR to save wear and tear of the laser eye on any game console. A CD-R burn of the microscopic pits in the dye will not be the same tight quality level of a pressed disc. In addition, some Dreamcast burned CD-Rs have music and video removed to fit the game data from the larger GD-ROM disc.

Dreamcast GD-ROM
Great info at the Sega 16 site which also mentions how on GD-ROM games the reader stops between reads saving on wear.

http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=723

The sound place holder of GD-ROM discs is on an inner track; opposite of most other game discs which have the data on the inner track. The different layout confirms how the GD-ROM reader accesses the data and music. Game data on the outer track and music in the middle track are also different compared to other formats.

http://segaretro.org/GD-ROM

The are 3 distinct regions when you look at the data (reflective) side of a GD-ROM disc.

► The low-density inner track (dark gray) is in the standard CD format, and contains about 35 MB (4 mins) of data. In most cases, this contains an audio track with a warning that the disc is for use on a Dreamcast, not an ordinary CD player. The CD section also contains a data segment, readable in PCs (though most discs only contain text files identifying the game, its copyright and bibliography). Some games, however, contain some bonus material for home computer users.

► The outer track (light gray) contains about 1 GB (112 mins) of data but is written in a high density format which cannot be accessed by normal CD-readers. This section contains the game data.

The area between the two tracks (black) does not contain data and acts as a border. In this ring, the following text is stored. CDDA can also be stored here (with actual audio tracks such as Quake 3 uses) but the CDDA here cannot be read by a normal CD player (most games use ADX files for music though and save the rest of the disc space for more game data.)

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Last edited by CRTGAMER on Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:07 am, edited 29 times in total.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by CRTGAMER Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:30 am

marurun wrote:This is both true and untrue at the same time. Your numbered points are absolutely correct, that pressed discs, generally, will be easier to read than most CDRs. (There are exception, of course, in that some low-quality pressed discs are hard to read due to deterioration of the data layer, and some high-quality CDRs do come awfully close in quality to pressed discs.)

That said, the language used, that the laser will work harder, is nonsense. The laser diode doesn't work harder; it works longer, but then, so do all the mechanical parts. Basically, when the disc is seeking it is working more of the gears and mechanicals, moving the head in and out and altering the disc speed. Burned discs, being harder to read, will require longer seeks to find the relevant data, meaning this mechanical process may take longer, with more movement on the parts. Also, the laser, which has a set power level (it doesn't put itself on FULL BLAST mode when there are read errors, it just tries again and the same, set power level), will spend a little more time on, since it has to read the disc during the seek process.

So if a burned disc causes seek times to take an extra 5-10% longer, then you are putting an extra 5-10% wear on your drive during those seek operations. You aren't putting extra wear on during extended read sessions (like Redbook audio or streaming data) because those will be spinning and reading the entire time to keep the buffers full, even if there are minor CRC errors and re-reads.

So if your old PS1 spends 5 minutes seeking during a 1 hour gaming session, you've put 60 minutes of laser diode wear, 55 minutes of regular mechanical wear, and 5 minutes of intense mechanical wear on your system. If using a CDR extends that seek time to 5.5 minutes, that's still 60 minutes of laser diode wear, 54.5 minutes of regular mechanical wear, and 5.5 minutes of intense mechanical wear, and 30 seconds less play time.

It's been a couple years, but I actually emailed a CD-ROM expert about this once, and his response was the difference was probably negligible.

(Sorry for the rant. I feel very strongly about this issue. )

In my "Laser working harder", of course I was meaning the entire Laser Head assembly. The laser eye jumping up and down as well as pivoting just that little bit more multiplied by the entire read time and not just the initial seek time. Even during the extended reads the Laser is focusing (servos kicking around) just that little bit harder to read the pits of a burned copy vs the pressed disc. The pits are so so tiny, any burn will not be as "pristine" as the pressed original as stated in my previous Reply.

Overall life of the Laser will be reduced, just unclear how much sooner. One has to weigh if a burned copy is worth the risk even if maybe small, especially if the original pressed disc is not too costly. Consider the price of a replacement laser/console especially years later when harder to find on the cheap in good condition. Throw in if newer console that has locked purchased downloads when online support goes away.

Ziggy587 wrote:
marurun wrote:So if your old PS1 spends 5 minutes seeking during a 1 hour gaming session, you've put 60 minutes of laser diode wear, 55 minutes of regular mechanical wear, and 5 minutes of intense mechanical wear on your system. If using a CDR extends that seek time to 5.5 minutes, that's still 60 minutes of laser diode wear, 54.5 minutes of regular mechanical wear, and 5.5 minutes of intense mechanical wear, and 30 seconds less play time.
Point taken, which reminds me...
Sarge wrote:I'm not entirely sure about this, but do consoles actually adjust the power of their laser reading mechanisms, or do they employ a constant energy consumption? If the intensity doesn't adjust (and I'm going to take a guess that they don't, given that most attempts to resuscitate drive revolve around potentiometer adjustments), the only thing that will cause issues is if you're having trouble reading the disc. Having to make multiple reads and use a lot of ECC just to work is going to cause the laser to break down more quickly, not unlike the constant strain that playing DVDs in a console will.
I was gonna quote and comment on this before, but forgot (I was posting at work, where I get distracted every two seconds).

This is something that I've always wondered myself. I know most drives have a pot that you can use to adjust the intensity (power going to) the laser. Surely cranking that up will cause any drive to wear out sooner ("sooner" being relative). But can the drive adjust the intensity of the laser on the fly? Maybe not as drastic as the pot will, but more of a fine tune? I mean, all discs are not equal. CD drive manufactures must have known this would be the case from the start.

If the drive cannot adjust the intensity, then I would have to agree that reading burns would only add seek time which would be, in normal cases, a negligible amount of wear and tear.

Tanooki wrote:I'm glad no one at Nintendo ever got the dumb idea to use optical on a portable, they're too easy to mess with as the PSP showed.

So true, any portable gets harsher punishment that can throw the laser eye alignment out more quickly. Updated the OP.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by isiolia Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:06 pm

Overall, I look at this similar to marurun, I think.

I'd say, when it comes down to it, you're looking at reading digital data. Burned data might not be as precise, but does it really need to be? Filled or not, one or zero, that's all it needs to be. The biggest metric to consider is whether or not the drive can successfully read the requested data from the disc in a timely fashion. Essentially, whether or not it can function within spec. If it [i]can[i], then I don't think there's really anything to be concerned about. A burned disc might require some error correction, but so might a scratched or dirty or subpar printed disc, a dirty laser lense, or other mechanical issues. The mechanism could wind up working more than it "needs to" due to where data is located on the disc as well.

If/when there's a problem to a degree that it'd lead to undue mechanical stress on the drive, then it'd likely be accompanied by read errors anyway. At least, PC optical drives I've had fail were like that.
I'd say much larger contributors to drive wear and tear would be environmental or maintenance related. IE, after decades, has lubrication dried up? Have parts become brittle? 'cause that's more the kind of thing that the mechanisms might not have been designed for.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by marurun Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:12 pm

isiolia wrote:I'd say much larger contributors to drive wear and tear would be environmental or maintenance related. IE, after decades, has lubrication dried up? Have parts become brittle? 'cause that's more the kind of thing that the mechanisms might not have been designed for.


I think you've nailed it on the head. My Saturns and Duo are probably in dire straights for how long they've been sitting unused and uncared-for. One of my Saturns went to Japan with me and came back, and I'm pretty sure that was tougher on it than all the burns I've played in it. And with the PC Engine's various CD ROM units, you do see lasers go bad, but the caps are also going bad and in the original drives there's a gear that gets brittle and fails. Age treats all hardware equally badly. We have to accept that with our older CD systems, we're playing on devices that are well outside the anticipated operational age, and that means failure can occur at any time.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by CRTGAMER Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:00 pm

RCBH928 wrote:
marurun wrote:Net necessarily. CD-Rs are designed to work in CD drives similarly to regular CDs, so the assertion that they are somehow harmful to our CD hardware is therefore a claim against their very design and purpose. CD-Rs aren't supposed to require a special CD drive to read.
But the Dreamcast is not a CD-R drive its a GD-ROM drive. Can that affect the system's lifespan?

Very ironic they went through the trouble of creating a new media type to overcome piracy when its just about the only console I know you can run bootlegs with no mods.

also, the fact they released a firmware update to prevent copies from being played seemed like they were still having hope to continue their business in the console market.

Earlier CD and DVD disc readers do not read burned discs
Here is another thought to help in the decision to use CD-Rs vs original pressed discs. As Ziggy pointed out above, earlier CD drives would not play CD-Rs. The same true for earlier DVD players which would not play DVD-Rs. Both lead to the discs requiring a tighter tracking head to pick up the data. it is still zeros and ones of digital data, but the read of the laser eye is a "mechanical" process spooling up the disc and the head tracking the 3 to 5 billion pits on the disc. That alone leads to a drive having to work that little bit harder to spool the data. Total mileage unknown, just a choice if worth pushing a vintage console as parts become harder to replace years from now.

PS2 fail history will first no longer read PS2 CD Blue Discs
Take the Dreamcast drive designed for GD-ROMs as a comparison of the PS2 designed for DVD and CD based games. Both are tuned to the higher capacity disc, the laser eye parameters change to read the different pit size and spacing of CDs. The first games that have issues of a failing PS2 disc reader are CD based games. Think of the same situation on a GD-ROM reader optimized for the higher capacity Dreamcast GD-ROM discs.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by BogusMeatFactory Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:06 pm

Old CD players and DVD players didn't play burned discs because those were not commercially available as a thing.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by Sarge Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:07 pm

Actually, there's another factor that influences a PS2 not being able to read blue discs (CDs): the spin rate. See, over time, the rubber pad that helps hold the disc in place can lose grip, usually from getting dust on it. The PS2 spins blue discs extremely quickly, and the disc will "slip" a bit, causing the laser to lose where it's tracking. Needless to say, this is a problem. I've had two of my PS2s do this, and a quick disassembly and cleaning off the pad cleared things right up.

This may not be an issue with Slim PS2s, however.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by isiolia Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:47 pm

CRTGAMER wrote:PS2 fail history will first no longer read PS2 CD Blue Discs
Take the Dreamcast drive designed for GD-ROMs as a comparison of the PS2 designed for DVD and CD based games. Both are tuned to the higher capacity disc, the laser eye parameters change to read the different pit size and spacing of CDs. The first games that have issues of a failing PS2 disc reader are CD based games. Think of the same situation on a GD-ROM reader optimized for the higher capacity Dreamcast GD-ROM discs.


Working at Software Etc, we had PS2s coming back within months of launch that were only able to read one disc type. So, there may be other issues at play than wear and tear.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by marurun Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:45 pm

CRTGAMER wrote:As Ziggy pointed out above, earlier CD drives would not play CD-Rs. The same true for earlier DVD players which would not play DVD-Rs. Both lead to the discs requiring a tighter tracking head to pick up the data. it is still zeros and ones of digital data, but the read of the laser eye is a "mechanical" process spooling up the disc and the head tracking the 3 to 5 billion pits on the disc. That alone leads to a drive having to work that little bit harder to spool the data. Total mileage unknown, just a choice if worth pushing a vintage console as parts become harder to replace years from now.

The PC Engine CD-ROM unit is one of the earliest CD drives and it will read CD-Rs, so this is by no means universal. It's really about laser power and reflectivity. The earliest drives typically have the weakest lasers, which means in cases where the reflectivity of the disc isn't high enough they will fail to read. Working with good quality burnable media with high-reflectivity will generally resolve this. A CD drive will either see or not see the data on the disk. Re-reads and data errors will be a problem for pressed and burned media.

Also, as for DVD drives, that is actually a specification issue. Here's a quote from the OSTA web site (recordable optical trade industry organization):

"some early DVD video players were released before the DVD-R specifications were completed so they do not recognize DVD-R discs. Some manufacturers suggest that under certain circumstances DVD+R can work around this issue by having the recorder write the disc using the prerecorded disc identification code thereby allowing the player to treat it as a pressed disc"

DVD-R and DVD+R are not the same as CD-R. DVD-R specifically doesn't exactly mimic a pressed DVD and reports itself as a different category, meaning inability to read these discs is more a function of distinct incompatibility. DVD+R can, however, closely mimic a pressed disc if needed.

CRTGAMER wrote:Take the Dreamcast drive designed for GD-ROMs as a comparison of the PS2 designed for DVD and CD based games. Both are tuned to the higher capacity disc, the laser eye parameters change to read the different pit size and spacing of CDs. The first games that have issues of a failing PS2 disc reader are CD based games. Think of the same situation on a GD-ROM reader optimized for the higher capacity Dreamcast GD-ROM discs.

I don't actually think the behavior of the laser is any different in the Dreamcast's GD-ROM drive. All it does differently is cut the spin speed but keep the read rate high. And the GD-ROM drive IS fundamentally a CD drive and was designed to be compatible with CDs. In fact, with custom firmware a desktop CD drive can read a GD-ROM disc. I've read some arguments on-line that the high failure rate of Dreamcast drives is actually due to the GD-ROM format itself.
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Re: Pressed Discs vs Burned Discs

by CRTGAMER Tue Feb 21, 2017 3:07 pm

marurun wrote:I don't actually think the behavior of the laser is any different in the Dreamcast's GD-ROM drive. All it does differently is cut the spin speed but keep the read rate high. And the GD-ROM drive IS fundamentally a CD drive and was designed to be compatible with CDs. In fact, with custom firmware a desktop CD drive can read a GD-ROM disc. I've read some arguments on-line that the high failure rate of Dreamcast drives is actually due to the GD-ROM format itself.

NO. The data read is out to in on a GD-ROM reader vs in to out on CD readers. My earlier post points out as well concerning different sized discs will have different pit sizes which do affect how a laser needs to adjust how it reads.
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