What effects speed? Not the drive

I have posted requests around the different forums for advice on speeding up a system when it comes to burning a dvd. My system one below burns at about an average of 30-45 minutes start to finish, which is acceptable for me, and yet another system i have setup on a friends takes 3 hours or more.

I asked about DVD readers on the forums here, and was told that the AOpen was the way to go. Bought one, and there is little or no difference in this system, an 800mghz 256mg XPsp2 using Shrink and Nero, the same software setup as system one below.

Now i realize that There is more RAM involved in the system below, and the processor i faster. and that would be my question. Would more RAM in the 800mghz system make it faster when it comes to encoding? or is it a product of the whole and an upgraded system is what is necessary. I want to exhaust the lower priced options before my friend wraps a new computer around a DVD burner, as it works now, just takes forever.

What factors most effect speed when burning DVDs?


256Meg of ram is not a lot for a Windows XP system. adding more ram would speed up every task. I’d add at least another 256meg ,512meg would be even better. But, its quite an old system, and you may not be able to justify spending a lot of cash on an old system.

Processor speed will also play a part in transcoding a movie, hard drive speed as well.

You’ve checked that ULTRA DMA 2 mode is enabled on your IDE controller i assume.

i’ll have to check it again, i believe i went into the bios and made sure that DMA was set to on, or auto, i dont remember, and wouldnt i want to go into the device manager and check the IDE channels for the properties there?

I figured RAM would help, but with what you can buy a new computer for, and the fact that we have spent $36US on the Aopen, and have the burner, we could speed everything up for a few hundred dollars, as opposed to 100+ for the RAM. I just want to make sure that RAM was the main thing. If i dont have the DMA enabled, would that slow things down that much?


It seems to me you’re asking several questions wrapped into one verse.

First, you’re asking about burning times

Second, you’re asking about transcode times (ripping, DVDShrink stuff)

Third, you’re asking about machine performance (non-burner performance).

Now, about IDE interfacing. Yes, the interface makes considerable difference in burn time. All other factors being of sufficient speed, the interface can limit your upper reach. Non DMA interfaces might limit your burst interface speed to something below 16Mbytes per second. A burn speed of 8x is going to need 10 Mbytes per second, without interruption. Add to that the time it takes to draw data off the source (your hard drive most likely), and you really need DMA. 16x burns require about 22 Mbytes per second, constantly.

One thing you didn’t ask about is the hard disk speed. IDE Drives smaller than 40 Gbytes may only have sustained read speeds in the 15 Mbyte per second range. In the outer regions of the drive, the speed can be half. Drives at or larger than 40 Gbytes, and 7200 RPM rotation, you might find read speeds of 30Mbytes per second in the inner portion of the drive, but drop to about 15 Mbytes per second in the outer portion. This doesn’t account for fragmentation, which invokes a seek penalty as the drive moves the head in search of data. There, too, the interface makes a big difference. If your drive could supply 30Mbytes per second or more, yet your interface isn’t DMA, you’re not going to get that speed.

Assume for a moment that your hard drive and interface are fine. RAM in the region of 256 Mbytes is actually sufficient to run a burn if you don’t so much as touch the machine while it’s proceeding, AND the software itself is efficient. You can tell if you’re starving for RAM by using the task manager for XP or win 2000. If your VM usage (which you may have to turn on to see - using the “select column” option) climbs, and the CPU usage drops to nearly zero while it does, and that exceeds your available physical RAM, you’re starving. 512 MBytes is quite sufficient, though - an increase beyond this isn’t likely to return any dividend.

Depending on your interface setup, the drive’s CPU utilization shouldn’t reach more than about 30% or so at high speeds. If it did, you’d starve for processing, and you’ll see several buffer underrun cycles. If that’s happening to you, you’re either starving for source disk speed, RAM (if under 512M) or maybe CPU power, probably in that order.

CPU power is an issue primarily in transcoding (shrinking) the video. DVDShrink appears to be threaded, so a hyperthreaded P4 or a dual CPU machine returns a benefit on that one application. Other transcoders might not be threaded, so P4’s and duals wouldn’t provide a gain.

A DVDShrink, with the high quality option on, can complete in under 40 minutes for a 2 hour movie on something about the speed of a 3Ghz P4. Without the HQ option, it might only need 10 minutes. At that point you’re ready to burn on a 4.7G blank. At 8x speed, that would be another 12 minutes, perhaps - so a 3 hour cycle is quite a long wait.

30-40 minutes is about right for a P4 at 2Ghz, from DVDShrink through burn - if the HQ option is off. It might easily take an hour or so with HQ option on.

If your friend is at 3 hours, I’d suspect CPU speed over all else (but if it’s the 1.5Ghz you’re talking about - that’s not right), with the hard drives coming in at a second option, and configuration issues a very likely third.

I’d think you were on a 700Mhz P3, or less, for a 3 hour DVDShrink to burn cycle.

Have a Prescott overclocked to 4.x GHz or Athlon 64 Winchester overclocked to 2.x GHz for encoding video files.

Have a PCI IDE controller card (with or without RAID) for diverse HDDs and ODDs.

Good inputs from JVene.

My 600 MHz PIII with 384MB RAM, WXP Pro, CloneDVD2, and AnyDVD can rip the main movie title (average 2 hr film) in 30 minutes, plus or minus 10. Add another 14 min to burn at 4x. Depending on the title, the total processing time can vary from 35 min to 1 hour.

If I do not disable the riplock in my DVD writer, then I can only transcode at 2x max. Make sure that you’ve disabled the riplock feature of the DVD writer if applicable. You can also use another good DVD ROM to read the data on the DVD. The rip speed of my NEC 3500A with dual layer DVD movies…3.1x start, 7.2x max. Average rip speed is around 5x.

Most people run a bunch of applications at startup. This will use up most of the available physical memory and place extra load on the CPU. I turn-off all non-essential services and only auto load my firewall at startup. The system displays about 280 MB of unused RAM after reboot.

I’ve used DVD Decrypter, CloneDVD, AnyDVD, and VobBlanker to backup movies. The maximum memory load is about 80 MB. That’s a total of 190 MB of RAM to run WXP and copy movies. Adding more RAM won’t help if you have unused physical memory.

Search Google for HDTUNE. Record the minimum hard drive speed in MB/sec and divide that number by 1.4. This will give you the maximum burn speed. To be safe, you should drop down to the next supported burn speed. You can increase the hard drive speed by defragging the HD, upgrading the HD to 7200 rpm, and/or connecting the 7200 rpm HD to a PCI IDE 100/133 controller. The controller card will overcome the slow motherboard. My minimum HD transfer speed is 27 MB/sec running in DMA mode 4 (ATA66).

12x burn speed yields a CPU load of 80%. When backing up movies, I write at 4x. The CPU load during transcoding with CloneDVD is 98 to 100%.

12x DVD burning using 80% of CPU power… Intel should promote 16x DVD burning to sell more processors. :slight_smile:

12x burn speed yields a CPU load of 80%.

That might be about right on a 600 Mhz P3, I’m not exactly sure. I’ve not used a P3 for DVD burning (haven’t used one in quite a while).

I have a dual AMD, MP 2600’s. It’s dated a bit now, but they still pack a punch. I’ve overclocked them a bit, but they’re still not past 2 Ghz each, but they have much higher IPC than P4’s, so they give a P4 at 2.6Ghz considerable competition unless the software uses SSE2.

On the AMD, a 12x burn uses around 15% CPU on Nero 6.3 (something), which would probably amount to 30% of a single XP 2600. Compared to a 600Mhz machine, a figure of 80% seems about right.

However, I used Sonic RecordNow (once), and it soaked up 50% (100% of a single CPU), which must be an issue in that application design. My theory is that it’s waiting in an infinite loop, rather than waiting on a signal like it should - so it would use 100% on virtually any CPU.

One other point about IDE. This interface can’t multiplex. This means that while it’s reading, it can’t write. This is one reason many will tell you to put the burner on the secondary as a master, and the source drive on the primary controller. This doesn’t always return an advantage, but it can. It depends on the controller itself. Many on board controllers can’t operate more than one channel at a time (even though they say they’re dual channel), which means out of 4 IDE devices, only one operates at a time. If so, and your burst rate on the burner is no higher than 23Mbytes per second - which is typical - there may not be enough overall throughput within the controller available to stuff data into the burner fast enough for a 16x burn. Couple that with any configuration deficiency (such as non-DMA, or a cable issue), and you might even have problems running an 8x burn.

When performing Nero DVD Speed test, the CPU load fluctuates between 15 and 20%. 4x burn speed is around 40% load. All with CloneDVD2.

These are good numbers for a 600 MHz PIII with 133 MHz bus speed. Total processing time for an average movie is 40 min @ 4x write speed. I don’t believe the best system high-end system could do it less than 20 min, especially when you factor in 14 min for the 4x burn.

Under 20 minutes would be easy for most people with 4GHz Pentium 4 since they are more likely to have drives like GSA-4163B and media like MCC004. 5:30 for the burn only. 4GHz P4 is several times faster than 600MHz P3 on encoding video either to MPEG-2 or MPEG-4.

…of course a lot depends on the source movie, too.

If you’re transcoding the 3 hour DVD of “Return of the King”, and you select the HQ mode of DVDShrink, brew some coffee, it will be nearly an hour on anything this side of a 3.8Ghz P4.

I’ve had several films that don’t exceed 4Gbytes, so there was no compression pass. They ripped in about 6 minutes.

I can burn at 12x in 7 min. Why push your luck at 16x when you’re only shaving 1 min off the burn time. We want quality when backing up our DVD movies. Most will use 4x burn speed or lower for long term reliability. So at 4x write speed, the latest P4 will have a difficult time processing a 2 hour movie in under 20 minute. I’m assuming that we’re talking about a DL DVD movie, between 110 and 130 min long. Not much compression is needed if you only rip the main title with AC 6/3 (up to 105 min playing time).

The DVD disc can play a big part in DVD processing time. Some titles will rip faster than others, even if they are of equal play time.

Read it again. 5:30 is what I said and the burn quality is as good as I can expect from any consumer drive for under US$100.


It’s usually around 5:20 for 16x DVD-R.

If quality is important and speed is important (for those who use 4GHz P4 anyway), it’s reasonable to use such a combination.

I don’t sweat over 30 seconds. Guess most home theather buffs are stupid and you have the perfect setup for archiving. BTW, most published data on 16x burns show a time of 5:45 to to 6:15.

That was when 16x DVD writers were slow. Time has changed.

What I meant was not about your situation. I do not have a P4 4GHz. What I meant is that someone who buys a P4 processor and overclock it to 4GHz to make the PC work just a little faster should logically also invest in DVD recording hardware to make the burning just a little faster. It was not a recommendation, but just an IF.

Under 20 minutes would be easy for most people with 4GHz Pentium 4 since they are more likely to have drives like GSA-4163B and media like MCC004. 5:30 for the burn only. 4GHz P4 is several times faster than 600MHz P3 on encoding video either to MPEG-2 or MPEG-4.

Which was my reply to your

I don’t believe the best system high-end system could do it less than 20 min, especially when you factor in 14 min for the 4x burn.

Since you said “the best system high-end system” rather than an avarage home PC. And achievning 5:30 burn time with good write quality is easier and more common than to have 4GHz Pentium 4.

GREAT STUFF guys, this is the kind of insight I was looking for. Yes, this system is a 700mghz, 256mg RAM system. 133FSB. Now I have it running XP SP2.

The drives are:
The AOpen 1648(just got it)
DVD Burner NEC 2510A

Software is Shrink +Nero, same set up.

It sounds like the PIII with the 384 of RAM is similar to what i would be after with this machine as far as times to encode and burn a movie.

The IDE controllers on this machine are both set to DMA if available, I had thought i set this up initially, and i was right.

It sounds like an investment in more RAM(just up to 512) would be the next step, if i take your advice correctly, and that is the route i had figured on. Like i said before, hard to justify wrapping a new computer around a drive just for speed, especially for the individual, who only uses it for this purpose.

Does this sound like a good plan to you all?

Thanks so much

On my system one, with the 2.0gig with 512 meg of ram, i can burn an 8x in just under 7 minutes. a 4x is around 14. Now i agree, when encoding and compressing a movie, it absolutely depends on the movie, as in your example of Return Of the King. on my machine, it took over an hour, on his, it took almost 4.5 i believe. He uses 8x discs now, but that is a drop in the bucket in the overall. I believe the average is around 3hours for this machine, and i would think that doubling the RAM may in fact cut the overall average time down by more than half…especially looking at the performance of the PIII that has been discussed in this thread…am I way off with this assumption?

Note that I only preload the firewall during boot. All non-essential stuffs in services are turned-off. The key variables are CPU, bus speed, RAM, and HD throughput speed.

Adding more RAM may help. Launch Device Manager and process the movie. You need to look at Peak commit Charge in Device Manager. If this maximum value is over 240MB after DVD creation, then you need to add at least this much RAM.

As for HD speed, just download HD Tune to verify that the average speed is above 25 MB/sec.

Honestly, I’d recommend getting an Athlon XP Barton processor plus a very cheap SiS-based motherboard. The upgrade would cost just about US$50. (Nearly anybody here would be able to earn that much by working on something for the same time spent on reading and writing a few posts on this forum.)

On my 2.4GHz P4 PC, burning at 16x (P-CAV DVD+R) didn’t require too much CPU usage. It was always far under 50%. I didn’t notice much difference between 4x and 16x burning. Almost any modern PC is good enough for 16x P-CAV burning (which is the fastest known DVD recording till now.) Either Barton or Prescott Celeron would be even faster than my 2.4GHz P4 based on the antique Northwood B core. It also makes adding USB 2.0 easier. Almost all cheap motherboards nowadays have built-in LAN ports, too. Older generation motherboards and processors have weaknesses not just in slower clock speeds. They seem to take more money for maintenance and for adding memory as well. Less support from software makers. Some motherboards are found at like US$20. One of my friends bought an unused and boxed P4 motherboard that has 4 S-ATA, Gigabit LAN, IEEE 1394, RAID, etc. for less than US$50. He also bought a Celeron D-core processor for under US$70 to match it.

Well, first i tried the RAM on this 700mghz 256 RAM system, as the performance of the 600mghz system in this thread was very encouraging. I added another 256, then added another 256, for 718. There was no difference. I checked in the device manager, and both IDE channels are set to DMA if available. I am thinking that this is the problem. You guys have mentioned the speeds from 12 to 30 for IDE interface, and i want to make sure i have everything set correctly. There is another setting in the BIOS that i was certain I checked when i set this up originally, i dont remember the name, but i believe i was to set it to DMA enabled, or Auto. Can anyone concur?

When using shrink last night with all that RAM, the transfer rate was a max of 810k. Takes like 6-8 minutes just to analyze the disc before encoding.

I checked the harddrive, and its an older IBM drive, like 32 gig, but it is a 7200 RPM drive. I know it was stated that drives under 40 gig might be a problem, but i would think the RPM speed would be sufficient.

Anything else i need to do on this current system before i go changing motherboards?

Thanks All