My CD-ROM is marked "52x." What does that mean?

CD-ROM drive speed is measured as a comparison to the rotational speed of a standard audio CD. Early drives were usually two to four (2x-4x) times the standard. Once drives reached approximately the 16x level, drive manufacturers changed their measurement. They found it was easier to manufacture a drive that turned at a constant rotational speed (audio CDs do not; they spin faster for the inside tracks). Currently drives are measured by their "maximum" outside-track speed, which in this example is 52 times faster than an audio CD.

May 2001

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