Your problems are most likely due to drive/firmware vs disc/speed incompatibility. The disc you are using just doesn't burn reliable at the speed you are using with the Nec burner (your unit). Just use a lower speed, change media or change burner.
For optimal cd burning: almost any software will do (software does not affect the quality of the burning, unless a lot of huge buffer under runs happen).
Just put all your burners as Master drives on your ATA channel, don't use over lengthy cables (try to stay below 45cm). Make sure the drives are properly jumpered as masters.
Use the standard Microsoft IDE driver (under Device Manager / IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers you should see Standard Dual Channel PCI Ide controller and Driver details should say "Microsoft 5.1.2600.2180" assuming you are running Win XP SP2). Beware that nForce and Intel chipset drivers can install their own (and always compliant) ATA drivers. You can use the "Roll back driver" to get back the standard MS driver in cases where chipset driver become active.
As for PIE/PIF error rates. They vary from drive to drive. The errors are not on the disc.They are errors made by the drive when it reads the disc. Different drives will read the same disc with a different number of errors.
So, when PIE/PIF amounts are very high (usually in several hundreds/several dozens) the disc becomes unreadable in the drive that reported that number of errors. This is "usually", there are exceptions (due to various reasons).