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How do you create your own test for CD-ROM drives?

Just take a disk with files, for example a disk with Windows 2000 Professional. Poke it into the drive under question and load the FC Test up. After that, choose the New menu and say you’re interested in creating a file list, then point to the CD disc (or to any folder on this disc).

In a few seconds, we have a list of the files inside the requested folder.

Note that if the selected folder contains subfolders, the files in these subfolders are also included into the file-list. The file-list also keeps the full paths to the files as you can see in the screenshot.

Then, click the Read Files button and the FC Test starts reading all the files, specified in the file-list, from the media and calculates the average read speed.

With the particular disk I took, the reading of all files (354.71MB total size) took 94.3 seconds. The average read speed equals 3.76MB/s. In the ordinary “X” measurements of CD-ROMs, it is 25.077x speed.

Why is it more correct to measure the speed of reading files? Because CDs are never read linearly (this only occurs when you’re grabbing audio tracks). In real applications, files are requested from CDs and it’s important to measure not the linear speed alone, but also the file reading speed. As you may guess, it will depend on the access time of the drive as well as the algorithms its cache buffer uses.

Testing Network Interface Cards

That’s possible, too. We can attach computers to the network, share a disk on the “server” and map this disk on the “client” computer as a network drive. Then, we can check out the speed of working with the network drive. Just in case, we should make the pause between system restarts a bit longer. If you want to test 1Gb cards, you must make sure that the disk subsystem of the server can provide a stream of 125MB/s and higher. In this case, the network card will really be a bottleneck.

Repeating Results

In a nutshell, the results repeatability exceeded all our brightest hopes!

Of course, it greatly depends on the “stability” of the tested object. For example, the repeatability is close to the ideal with flash drives. With hard disk drives, we had exactly the same dispersions as in our examination of the PCMark04 benchmarking suite (see our article called PCMark04: Benchmark for Hard Disk Drives?). Thus, copying files is no less exact than playing traces of the disk subsystem’s activity.

Of course, the test shouldn’t be run just one time if you want to have correct results. As for the number of repeats, it’s your own choice.

Beta Testing

Right now, the new version of the FC Test 1.0 is being beta-tested and we don’t offer it to the public. Some minor changes are to be implemented into the interface and the realization of the log file. We have also planned a handful of features that help to use the FC Test more efficiently.

So far, we are willing to offer the current version of the test to all our colleagues from other hardware test laboratories. You can request it from me by e-mail.

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