On the other hand, my ASUS DRW-24F1ST c drive (with a September 2015 manufacturing date) …
I flashed the iHAS124 F CL08 firmware to this asus drive, and it appears to work fine.
I decided to change the firmware on my ASUS DRW-24F1ST c drive from CL09 to CL99, just to see what happens.
Apparently smartpack doesn’t do anything starting from CL09. So I first flashed the CL98 firmware to the DRW-24F1ST c drive, and then ran smartpack. This time around, smartpack recognizes the CL98 firmware and updates it to CL99.
So LiteOn appears to be strictly enforcing the CL99.exe upgrade, to only iHAS124 F drives which can be identified as CL98. Perhaps this suggests some slight differences in the hardware between CL08/CL09 and CL98/CL99 series?
(This is strictly anecdotal and not entirely definitive).
I did notice one big thing with the CL99 firmware.
With the CL08 firmware on the DRW-24F1ST c drive, the one big thing I noticed was that every time a dvd disc was inserted, but before the disc is read, the drive would make a distinct transient sound which sounded like a “spark discharging” (for lack of a better description). This happened with every single dvd disc I ripped on my DRW-24F1ST c drive with the CL08 firmware. (For that matter, the same “spark discharging sound” also happened with the CL09 firmware).
After updating my DRW-24F1ST c drive to the CL99 firmware, this “spark discharging sound” doesn’t happen anymore when a dvd disc is first inserted into the drive, but before the disc is read. (I didn’t bother testing my drive with the CL98 firmware).
This is highly suggestive of the hardware being slightly different, between the CL08/CL09 and CL98/CL99 series. (Though not definitive).
At this point, I strongly suspect my Asus DRW-24F1ST c drive (with a September 2015 manufacturing date) might possibly have been a CL98 drive all along, but I didn’t know about it back in early-February.