Ultimate CDROM Drive (idea)
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Prolly about 16 MB of intelligent read-ahead cache would make more sense for the "Ultimate" CD-ROM. The queueing of the disk to cache would take about four minutes on even the fastest readers, and most (non gaming/music) applications of the CD-ROM are installation. A four minute wait for a three minute improvement on an installation would be, in most folks eyes, unacceptable.
Most of what you consider slow access is likely caused by having to spin the drive up, not access speed. In Half-Life, this reared its ugly head when the music kicked on and paused the game (on my computer) for about 2-3 seconds.