C64 enters a Transwarp Conduit

Benchmarking Transwarp, the insanely fast 1541 loader

Krill has given us Transwarp, a special 1541 loader that is able to push the speed of loading a file from the 1541 drive far beyond the limits that hardware-modified systems reached. And it requires no special hardware. With a little bit of prep, I was able to test it with CBM Disk Transfer Benchmark.

How fast is it? Think of it this way: Back in the day, you could spend a bunch of money and open up your C64 and 1541 drives and install DolphinDOS to achieve a load speed that clocked in at 23 times faster than the stock hardware. JiffyDOS, which was easier to install and more ubiquitous, could only provide you with a 9x load time improvement over the base hardware. Transwarp is capable of loading files 40 times faster than the stock system, and requires no hardware modifications or cartridge.

This is impressive and totally legitimate. The 1541 and C64, which gave us a measly 403 bytes per second transfer rate when loading files, can be pushed to do the same loading task at 16,056 bytes per second! And all in software!

Not to put too fine a point on it, but here’s another way to look at it: the stock 1541 with C64 takes a almost two minutes (1:51.5) to load a 177 block file. Transwarp can load that file in three (0:02.8) seconds. (And did I mention it doesn’t require any hardware changes?)

Note that Transwarp can actually achieve up to 50x the load speeds when file overhead is excluded. The 40x score is as timed by Disk Transfer Benchmark with its 177 block data file from within DTB and includes all of the time it takes to JSR into LOAD and return.

What’s the down-side? You don’t get any speed improvements for saving files. That isn’t such a big deal. However, you also can’t actually accelerate the loading time of any arbitrary files you may want to transfer. Transwarp requires that the files be pre-encoded before-hand to load them quickly. For this reason, it’s not really a replacement for JiffyDOS or a traditional fast load cartridge.

In order to run this benchmark, I had to create a D64 image with the DTB program file and data file using cc1541 with the -W switch to produce an image with the necessary encoding. But, once done, the loading benchmark ran without a hitch. (Saving didn’t work and actually put the drive into an error state.)

DTB Load Score for Transwarp: 40x!

Load comparisons

[Update: I’ve got a dedicated page I will be keeping up to date for Speed Loader Comparisons.]

Here’s a table showing where Transwarp fits in with other speed loaders. I have excluded the save speed tables since it is not relevant to Transwarp. This table includes the Hyperspeed DMA loader from the Ultimate 64 as well.

System Load Bytes per Second Load Time DTB Load Score
1541 403 01:51.5 1x
SD2IEC 502 01:29.5 1x
1581 507 01:28.6 1x
1541 w/ Epyx Fastload 2121 00:21.2 5x
1541 w/ Warp Speed 3017 00:14.9 8x
1541-II w/ JiffyDOS 3746 00:12.0 9x
1541 w/ Super Snapshot 5 4163 00:10.8 10x
1541 w/ Action Replay 5 5352 00:08.4 13x
1541 w/ Retro Replay PAL 3.8q 5352 00:08.4 13x
1581 w/ JiffyDOS 6515 00:06.9 16x
SD2IEC w/ Epyx Fastload 7136 00:06.3 18x
SD2IEC w/ JiffyDOS 9175 00:04.9 23x
1541 w/ DolphinDOS (U64) 9366 00:04.8 23x
1541 w/ Transwarp 0.84 16056 00:02.8 40x
1541 U2+ Hyperspeed (USB) 64223 00:00.7 161x
1541 U2+ Hyperspeed (RAM Disk) 89912 00:00.5 225x
U64 Hyperspeed (USB) 224780 00:00.2 562x
U64 Hyperspeed (RAM Disk) 449560 00:00.1 1124x

This graph shows the relative speeds not including Hyperspeed:

Load Bytes per Second: where does Transwarp is king!

And this graph includes Hyperspeed:

Load Bytes per Second, comparison including Ultimate Hyperspeed

In reality, both Hyperspeed and Transwarp have idiosyncrasies that make comparison with traditional fastloaders a bit unfair, since neither can really be used in a “daily driver” senario. But regardless of that, Transwarp is a clear triumph. Props to Krill!

1 thought on “Benchmarking Transwarp, the insanely fast 1541 loader

  1. Obliterator918 Post author

    When I originally posted these findings, Transwarp was getting a 36x score in DTB. Krill was wondering why there was such a discrepancy between that and what the Transwarp loader was reporting itself (43x). He found that the way DTB was initializing the secondary load address was causing Transwarp to assume a slower load speed. By making this little change, DTB now reports a 40x score, which is much closer to what Transwarp itself reports. Please download CBM Disk Transfer Benchmark 1.1 to get the updated program.

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