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Hack your Mac Pro SuperDrive for fun and profit

Dan Lurie

It's not uncommon for computer manufacturers to swap and switch out various components for similar or near-identical parts during a production run, and Apple has been known to partake in this practice in the past. That being said, occasionally a manufacturer will use a part which has a slightly higher build quality or performance than its counterpart in other machines and simply throttle down the performance of the superior part through firmware.

Although some of the new Mac Pro towers ship with the familiar Pioneer DVR-111D optical drive, the majority of the systems contain the apparently non-existent Sony DW-D150A. I say non-existent because the ubergeeks over at HardMac noticed that DW-D150A isn't a recognized Sony model number. After some more thorough research, it came to light that the drives billed as Sony DW-D150A are in actuality NEC 4570 mechanisms. You're probably asking yourself right about now why on earth I'm going on about something as innocuous as differing model numbers, and in most cases, you'd be right to question my sanity. However, in this rare instance, I have reached through the haze of confusion that normally clouds my mind, and at least for now I have a firm grip on the real world. The significance is this:

The NEC 4570 kicks the pants off the Sony DW-D150A in almost all aspects of reading and writing, and has some extra features to boot.

- DVD -/+R 16x
- DVD+R DL 8x
- DVD+RW 8x
- DVD-RW 6x
- CD-RW 32X
- CD-R 32X

- DVD -/+R 16x
- DVD-R/ DL 8x
- DVD+RW 8x
- DVD-RW 6x
- DVD-RAM 5x
- CD-RW 32x
- CD-R 48x

Naturally, Apple has locked down the specifications of the NEC 4570 to keep things fair, but that doesn't mean we can't do a bit of hacking and regain all that sweet sweet performance. A few simple commands in the terminal, some pixie dust, and a little bit of luck, and you've got yourself one speedy optical drive.

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer: Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway) this hack is totally unsupported by Apple, and there is no guarantee you won't brick your SuperDrive. Attempt at your own risk.

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