Which is faster: Blu-Ray or DVD?


I was reading Business 2.0 this month, when I noticed this quote:

gamers complained that the speed of the Blu-Ray drive was too slow when doing what drives in consoles are supposed to do: load games.

Now, this is nothing new. Many other magazines and journalists have said the same thing.

But has anyone actually tested this?

I suspect not. I’ve definitely never seen any of these business writers cite any tests or evidence to back this up. If anything, it’s probably based on abstract high level spec sheets that skip over important considerations such as CLV vs CAV (angular velocity measurements vs linear velocity measurements) and layer switch issues.

OK, guys. Let’s do some digging. This shouldn’t be too hard to do:

  • Find a good optical drive benchmarking tool that will test this kind of thing. Needs to run under Linux so that it can be used on the PS3 and on a PC.
  • Identify some good tests discs. Will want to test both single layer and dual layer DVD and blu-ray test discs. I wonder if there is a big performance drop when using dual layer discs rather than single layer? Is there a speed hit when doing seeks from one layer to another? The latter should show up on a random access test.
  • Get a PS3 with Linux set up on it to do the Blu-Ray tests.
  • Get a Linux PC to do the DVD tests. Linux is preferable since hopefully both PS3/Blu-Ray and PC/DVD test machines can use the exact same benchmarking application.
  • Run the tests several times to get a good sample.
  • Post Results

Does anyone else think that this would be an interesting test to run? Can anyone provide some technical tips to refine this strategy? Will anyone volunteer to help do any of this?

BTW, I know that the game, “Oblivion” has better load times on the PS3, but that is merely one anecdote. I’m hoping to gather more general benchmarks.

Business 2.0 Article
GameSpot Comparison of Blu-Ray/DVD speed by specs (no actual benchmarks)


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by Sporty on May 30th, 2007 [ 95 Points ]

    I haven’t tested this, but going from paper specs it’s not slower.

    1x BD Reads at 4.5MB/sec (PS3 is 2x @9.0MB/sec)
    1x DVD read speed is 1.321MB/sec

    So it’s pretty obvious that BD reads a lot faster then DVD.

    The myth is due to most DVD drives are 16x (21.13MB/sec) and over while BD players are still @ 2x speeds.

    Another contributing factor is BD space is so vast that content providers don’t compress as much as on the DVD side. Compression squeezes more data into a smaller area making less frequent need to read. A lot of early BD were MPEG2 a larger 20MBs+ compression ratios While AVC VC1 can’t get the same quality at a quarter of that size. That’s changing now and the space be being used smarter.

  2. #2 by Sporty on May 30th, 2007 [ 95 Points ]

    That ‘can’t get the same quality at a quarter of that size’ was meant to be can get the same quality in a quarter of the size.

    I wish we had an edit here. Either that or I need to proof-read better.

  3. #3 by bobeotm on May 30th, 2007

    Part of what makes the speed discrepancy a non-issue is because of the PS3′s standard harddrive, games can cache without having to constantly stream and find items on the disk. A game can simply temporarily write frequently used assets to the harddrive and use it to supplement that which is retreived from the disk.

    The speed of the drive isn’t as much of an issue, as making sure the space is used intelligently. If games would be compess to dvd9 size when they are small enough to, while still being on blu-ray, would provide an advantage. Because it could mean that an entire 4gb game could occupy a narrow band on the disk, causing there to be less of a demand on the lazer traveling back and forth for to retreive disk info.

  4. #4 by Segitz on May 30th, 2007 [ 1470 Points ]

    Theoretically, the 360s DVD ROM is faster. But only in theory. This DVD ROM is a max 12x (15.9MB/s). Interestingly, I’ve just searched for the real specs for this drive (a CAV drive has a min and a max speed, and mostly are slower while reading dual layered discs).

    It is said (also on B3D forums) that the 360s DVD drive can read dual layered DVDs only with a max speed of 8x (~10.5MB/s), which is only a LITTLE bit faster than the PS3s constant 9MB/s (2x at 4.5MB/s). So theorizing this further, 360 games can only read faster than the PS3 in less than ~50% of its discs.

    This takes into consideration a) perfect drives b) perfect conditions and c) perfect discs and that the drives reach their theoretical maximum read speed.

    Difference can also be made by looking at the density (~7-8GB against 50GB) of the discs. Like the Bethesda guys said, they use more space to better loadtimes (i.e. lessen the seektimes of the optical drive to up the read speed, as a constant read is much faster than constant seeking). Also, they can put the data on the BD ROM anywhere, it reads at the same speed. The DVD needs to be padded to achieve full reading speed. And with titles that are close to the maximum capacity, this aint possible.

    Also, all PS3s have a harddrive, which can be used for streaming data. The 360 can be equipped with one, but it is not standard, which makes devs consider it, so they cant take full advantage of a harddrive.

    Sorry, I need to leave now… going shopping for new goods at a “special” supermarket (cash and carry it is called in britain afaik).

  5. #5 by Darrin on May 30th, 2007

    I’ve read the specs and I know about the hard drive.

    What I want to see is actual benchmarks. Not theory based on abstract numbers, but actual test data.

    Seriously, I wanted to run this test before posting about it, but I’ve hit some hold ups (not tech related: I bought a new HDD by mail that I never received and was likely stolen) and was hoping someone else might have some better ideas or help run such a test while it’s still relevant.

  6. #6 by Sporty on May 30th, 2007 [ 95 Points ]

    I don’t have linux installed on my PS3 yet.

    But anyone that does can do this test for Darrin.

    ‘hdparm -tT /dev/cdrom’

    With a BD in the drive. Should give the transfer rates.

    But this isn’t a perfect test. just the best we can do. Should do 3 tests and post the average.

  7. #7 by Darrin on May 30th, 2007 [ 17143 Points ]

    I think Bonnie++ sounds like a good benchmarking tool to use.

    I will need to get Linux setup on my PS3 to run.


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