Chipset comparisons and differences?

What are advantages and disadvantages across many optical drive chipset manufacturers?

Your question is somewhat vague and open ended.

Is there anything specific you have in mind?

Unfortunately most newly manufactured drives nowadays are mostly mediatek chipsets.

So unless you have access to a lot of older drives, there isn’t much variety nowadays in regard to optical drive chipsets.

Currently LG and LiteOn are both using mediatek. Before Samsung TSST went belly up, they were also using mediatek.

Rebadges like plextor, piodata, asus, etc … appear to be mostly mediatek nowadays. (Basically LiteOn variants in disguise, with maybe a custom firmware).

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Like jcroy wrote, there are not many chipset-manufacturers left. I guess only MTK and Renesas.

MTK was very cheap in the past, so LiteOn switched in year 2000 from popular Sanyo-Chipsets to cheap MTK.
Some years later the copy protection Safedisc V2.5x came out and randomly the writers with MTK-chipset were the only ones which can make a 1:1-copy. Against the statements of the Liteon-fanatics Liteon doesn´t use MTK to please the users for SD 2.5x (SD2.5x doesn´t exist in the time Liteon switched to MTK), it was only because of the price.

The former SD2.0 was for a short time only to backup with MTK and Philips-chipsets. Philips-based writers were hyped to heaven at this moment, even if it were very picky with media. After SD2.5x was released Philips were -again- one of the most hated writers

LG and Mitsumi used OTI-chips which wasn´t very exiting, but some LG-CD-writers offers good writing-quality. Cyberdrive used also OTI. Maybe the biggest thing with OTI was the 54x-Mitsumi-writer, the fastest in theory.

Sanyo was long time ago the benchmark and the first one with Buffer Underrun protection, called Burn Proof, but Sanyo was expensive.

Some Acer/Benq used ALi in some drives, but the CD-writers weren´t good at writing quality, but some ppl say the error-correction was very good.

Panasonic-chipsets were IMHO the first ones with Lightscribe, LG used it often for the “L”-models, without Lightscribe “N”-models they use mostly Renesas.

Nexperia-chipsets were used for Philips/Benq-writers (except some models like Benq 1670) and known for good writing-quality and advanced scan-features in CD-Speed.

There are also CD-RW-drives with Ricoh-chipset, but I have less experience with that because I never was pleased with Ricoh because the drives were very picky with media, mabe someone remembers the typical error “Medium Speed Error”

There are maybe some other points which are different between the chipsets like supported burn speeds, burn methodes (CAV, PC-CAV, Z-CLV) but I´m not sure is it only chipset-related or depend it more on FW.

Maybe someone remember more than me :wink:


Highly interesting, thanks.

What are some features devoted to specific chipsets?

Why unfortunately?

Because of lack of variety - you can now basically buy only one type of drive, albeit sold under different badges.

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Yep, same for me. LG, Liteon, Pioneer DVD-drives (made by QSI), Samsung, all use MTK.

Only Pioneer BD-drives seems to use Renesas.

Anyone knows what chipset Panasonic use?


In the end even with the same exact chipset, a particular drive is only as good as the individuals who programmed the firmware and how they designed the electronics + mechanical stuff interacting with the chipset.

This is how current LiteOn, LG, Samsung, etc … drives using the exact same mediatek chipset, can have different behaviors and performances under the same circumstances.

True, the chipset is only one part of the combination.

Not sure about how many OPUs are still in production.

The firmwares in the last years wasn´t developed much because since 2010 there are no new media with new MIDs on the sale, I guess

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IIRC, Samsung TSST’s final few dvd drive models were using an OPU manufactured by Optis/Sephil in the Philippines. They appeared to have closed down back in 2016.

Hard to find any further information on the the fate on sephil’s OPU and dvd drive manufacturing facilities.

Currently I have no idea what OPU is used by LiteOn and LG dvdr drives.

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Poking around mediatek’s web site, there was a page for their cd/dvd/bluray drive chipsets.

What’s interesting is for the bluray drive chipset MT1959, they mention it has an underlying ARM7EJ-S cpu.

(IIRC, LG’s current blurayr drives are using this MT1959 mediatek chip).

I’m guessing if one has access to a mediatek sdk for these particular chips, it would probably be in ARM assembly code. So if you want to do firmware hacking, figure out how to read arm opcodes. :slight_smile:


If the table is correct:

124/324F : LO-DWH02B

LG B0/C0/D1: LPC-D721

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If you want to spend time trying to decipher + disassembling firmware of any kind, take a look at devilclaw’s long thread on here from 2009 where he/she goes into detail about disassembling the firmware from an ancient GSA-T21N lg drive.

Some of this effort is summed up in devilclaw’s flasher program for renesas lg drives, which still seems to work for firmware dumping/writing on current LG dvd and bluray drives. This code was released as open source.

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Would you say that the Renesas (Pioneer), chipset is better/worse/equivalent to the MediaTek ?

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Hard to say because the FW have more influence, the OPU also a bit.

In the past MTK was better for copy protection, that was a pure hardware feature.

MediaTek is better for scanning, that´s an advantage for MTK.

But overall, no matter if using BD-R and DVD-/+R, Pioneer seems to make the best allrounder if you care about writing-quality. LG is not bad (except with MBIR06, which works awful since BH16NS55), but have bigger varies in write quality. Panasonic is also a good one (don´t know the chipsets they use), but they only produce Slimdrives.

With DVD-drives I don´t see much differences between actual writers from LG, LiteOn or Samsung. Pioneers QSI-based-drives are an exception, for me the only writers which can handle some very old media =<4x. But all have MTK-chipsets

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Thanks Tester_1. I have had good use of my Pioneer BD-R drives. They just seem short lived. But for what I pay for them, it is okay as long as I can still get new ones when I need them. :grinning:

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All my 3 Pioneer BD-R-drives (206, 208D, 209D) are still alive :wink: , but I read than some ppl have problems with em.

But Pioneer still seems to be the best drives for writing-quality

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I wouldn’t be so sure that the change to Mediatek was cost-based.

Sanyo’s own CD writers were considered by many people round here to be cheap & nasty and were commonly sold (not even rebadged, just boxed) by cheap brands such as Mirai. Writing performance was patchy, which likely could have been fixed in firmware. But firmware updates were rarely (if ever) available. They appeared to follow the same business model as Matsushita - act as an OEM supplier to other companies, the drives to be used as components in computers/laptops or occasionally to be retail-packaged by and sold under other brand names. This explains the complete lack of ongoing support from Sanyo or Matsushita.

Regarding ALI-based CD writers, I have used the W & X series (as far as I know the only writers to use ALI) and their writing quality is perfectly good, indeed they are among the best drives at 52x speed. That writing quality is determined by the chipset is one of the many optical disc fallacies which were widely disseminated.

Technically all drives should be equal for error correction. Regardless of the drive used the mathematics & available levels of error correction are the same and determined by the type of disc & the filesystem used. The sometimes miraculous ability of ALI-based CD writers to read some scratched CDs is due to their reading ability, not error correction. Due to the deficiencies of the error correction used on audio CDs (intentionally sacrificed to increase disc space), CD players & (almost all) readers employ interpolation to conceal errors. The interpolation used by ALI-based drives is actually very poor - the worst I have come across on any modern optical disc writer, so bad I wonder if they might not be interpolating at all. (Which can actually be an advantage when repairing the audio manually.)

What they excel at is the actual reading process. When they encounter a difficult scratch they are less likely to be diverted onto a neighbouring track (skipping) and are often better at seeing through the scratch and reading the data beneath.

Unlike writing quality, the chipset does seem to be the most significant factor when it comes to both audio CD interpolation and damaged disc reading performance. Drives using the same type of chipset behave & perform in a very similar manner when reading, even if their writing quality performance is very different (e.g. CD writing quality with Lite-On & Samsung DVD writers using identical Mediatek chipsets). When it comes to audio interpolation (error concealment) and reading discs with non-scratch damage or degradation, it is the much maligned Mediatek chipsets which offer by far the best performance in my experience, with the DVD writers invariably outperforming the CD writers (thus dispelling another fallacy).