Recently, I had to burn a DVD for the first time in ages and I was wondering why CDs and DVDs start adding data in the center of the disc and work their way toward the outer edge.
Older rotating-disc media like vinyl records started from the outer edge and went in toward the center, so it could not have been for historical reasons.
I am looking for good sources that explain the reasoning for this data structure/setup.
Why do CDs and DVDs add data from the center outwards?
Note that the assumption made in the question above is incorrect.
- For historical reasons, writing (and reading) from the inside makes sense (different sized discs are possible as explained in other answers).
- For read performance reasons, modern discs may be written (and read) outside in or even in both directions (dual layer).
- Most discs are a standard size.
- Commercially produced CDs and DVDs are not written at all, they are stamped on a press.
Source: The Difference Between Commercial and Home-Recorded DVDs
The rest of this answer concentrates on the performance aspect. The exceptions to writing (and reading) from the inside are Xbox games (and other game consoles’ games) and Dual Layer DVDs (movies).
Xbox games have the data written from the outside in for performance reasons. Since the outside is spinning faster than the inside, the data can be read faster.
Source: Hardware Behind the Consoles – Part I: Microsoft’s Xbox
Dual Layer DVDs (Movies)
Dual Layer DVDs can be written in either direction, there are two write modes. Most movies are written using the opposite track path technique. A movie will be split across across the layers, so no seek back to the inner edge is needed at the layer change point.
Source: DVD-R DL