Since a couple of months now a new CD-RW format called Mount Rainier (CD-MRW) has been introduced to make the usage of CD-ReWritable discs a lot easier. This format has been mentioned a couple of times now on our site when we reviewed the Mitsumi CR-480ATE and the TEAC CD-W540E for example.
In this article we want to go a little bit deeper into what Mt. Rainier means exactly and what its advantages are. We also want to show you some tests comparing the two mentioned Mitsumi and TEAC writers that natively support this format. First let's start with a brief introduction covering the most basic questions regarding Mt. Rainier:
What is Mt. Rainier?:
The 'official' Mt. Rainier definition as mentioned on the Mt. Rainier website is as follows:
"..Mount Rainier enables native OS support of data storage on CD-RW. This makes the technology far easier to use and allows the replacement of the floppy. This is done by having defect management in the drive, by making the drive 2k addressable, by using background formatting, and by standardizing both command set and physical layout. The new standard is promoted by Compaq, Microsoft, Philips, and Sony and is supported by over 40 industry leaders: OS vendors, PC-OEM's, ISV's, chip makers, and media makers.."
The idea with the Mt. Rainier format is to enable native operating system (OS) support of CD-RW drives and background formatting. This will ensure greater compatibility, eliminate users' dependence on proprietary read drivers, and make the technology easier to use.
What are the main benefits?:
The most important advantage is the ease of use of this new format. It is of course already possible to 'drag & drop' files on a CD-RW disc using packet writing software but before you can do this, the disc has to be formatted (which takes a lot of time) and you need to have third party software installed to be able to write the discs. With Mt. Rainier it's possible to write and read from a brand new CD-RW disc within one minute, eliminating the formatting delays and the need for third party software.
Unlike conventional CD-RW drives, Mt. Rainier-compliant CD-MRW drives also support defect management. This means that when the program tries to write to a sector on the disc which turns out to be a 'bad' sector, that sector will be hidden and spare sectors will be used instead. So unlike normal packet writing, the error handling is done by the drive itself (hardware) instead of by the software.
As briefly mentioned the Mt. Rainier format uses 2k addressing capabilities. Where packet writing requires a block size of 64kb, most data systems are based on 2k or 4k addressing capabilities. Because the Mt. Rainier format also uses this it will allow file-system and caching capabilities to be transparent to the user even though CD-RW media is used.