When playing games on my PlayStation 2, I recall that certain titles span much quicker than others - I could tell this by the noise that my console used to make during gameplay when resources were physically being read from the disk.

My original assumption was that this was only the case for actual PlayStation 2 games distributed on standard 700 MB CDs, rather than the more common situation where PlayStation 2 titles are sold on DVDs. Does anybody know if this is in fact the case, and if not what causes certain games to spin faster whilst in the drive?

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    Hi Elliott, this is a really interesting question, but has little to do with gaming. I suggest you try it at SuperUser. Thinking about it, I presume it has to do with the physical location of the files the game (or OS) has to read: when the disc reader needs a file from near the disc's center, and an adjacent file from around the edge, it will simply spin faster to move the head to the other position. If many files need to be read like this, the head will have to move fast a lot. – Joachim Jul 14 '19 at 20:59
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    @Joachim While it is a hardware question, SuperUser doesn’t accept questions about consoles per their help guide. So migrating this question won’t do the OP much good – Wondercricket Jul 14 '19 at 21:11
  • @Wondercricket Oh yes, this is game-specific hardware, so on-topic here. I'll retract my flag. Thanks! – Joachim Jul 14 '19 at 21:44
  • I don't know much about hardware myself, but I suspect @Joachim has the right of it - how fast and how frequently a disc spins in the drive would depend on how efficiently related files are organized on the disc and how often the OS needs to read the disc to reference them. Some developers may have been more efficient than others about this, resulting in less spinning. – Steve-O Jul 14 '19 at 23:36
  • Without facts it will be hard to answer. My opinion: some disks are good quality, some are not (not so good balanced?), also take wear into account. The CD reader will reduce speed if it fails to read, those what are silent means slow. – Sinatr Jul 15 '19 at 13:19

There are 2 possibilities

Location of Data:

CDs and DVDs from this period were usually still read at a constant linear rate. This means that at the read head the CD/DVD must travel over it at a constant speed. Data on a CD/DVD has the same size per bit on the inside and outside, meaning that there is more data per revolution on the outside of the disc. Therefore, to provide a constant speed of data input over the reading head, the disc spins slower when reading the outside.

(Later, faster drives switch to a constant angular rate which meant they always spin at the same speed, and the data input speed changes depending on which part of the disk is being read)

Because of this, if the game needs to constantly read data that is near the outside of the disk, it will spin slower. This would explain different rotational speed for a single disk

Read Speed:

CDs and DVDs are read at different speeds

For the Playstation2 these are the specs:

24x speed CD-ROM [3.6 MB/s], 4x speed DVD-ROM [5.28 MB/s]

24x speed CD-ROM can typically spin at 5k to 12k rpm

4x speed DVD can typically spin at 2.2k to 6k rpm

This is probably why you noticed the CD ones spinning faster

Source 1 Source 2 PS2 Spec Drive Speed Source

  • Thank you for this - in this case though, I'm not sure this can be the reason. For the games that I've seen this in (I can provide titles if needed), the disk constantly spins at a much faster speed as aposed to PlayStation 2 titles stored on DVDs. The two titles that I know this happens with are below 700 MB and were distributed on a standard CD, which is what made me assume that this would have something to do with it. – elliott94 Jul 15 '19 at 18:46
  • @elliott94 Sorry didn't catch that you thought CD's were faster than the DVD's - have updated answer – Smock Jul 16 '19 at 8:32

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