CD-Rewritable technology is picking up speed with an announcement by Ricoh of drives and discs capable of up to 10X rewrite speeds. But there's a catch: the new discs won't always work in existing CD-RW drives.
The 10X rewrite speed is impressive, as the fastest rewrite speed of current CD-RW drives is 4X. Even if the drives could write faster, currently available 4X-rated CD-RW media wouldn't permit it. Details such as model numbers, the maximum speed ratings for CD-R writes and CD-ROM reads, and specific pricing are not yet available.
The new discs will probably cost about twice as much as conventional CD-RW discs. In addition to technology improvements that will push up drive prices, the new discs include a more expensive material that enables the higher rewrite speeds, he says.
The new drives and discs will follow the latest CD-RW standard, called the Orange Book Part III, Volume 2, Version 1.0, he says. The new version supports rewrite speeds of 4X to 10X; the previous standard (Volume 1, Version 2) supports rewrite speeds of 1X to 4X.
The new discs will support rewrite speeds of 4X, 6X, 8X, and 10X, but they will not work in today's CD-RW drives even those that bear a 4X CD-RW rating. Some customers may be able to install a downloadable firmware upgrade necessary to make their drives work with the new discs, but others will not. Users need to check with their drive vendor for details.
To help avoid confusion, discs that work in today's 1X to 4X drives will likely be labelled as "conventional" and the new discs that work with 4X to 10X drives will be called "high-speed".
There's currently an effort by some to eliminate the 4X designation from the new disc's packaging, to read only 6X to 10X. That would help eliminate some confusion.
Ricoh is only the latest vendor to announce drives and discs supporting faster CD-RW speeds.