Your drive is a relabeled Optiarc AD5170-A. Optiarc is a new optical storage company in alliance with NEC's and Sony's "former" optical storage departments. LiteOn is also building drives for Sony as well.
Basically what you have is white elephant.
If it were me, I'd return it and stay away from Sony drives that are not listed on sony's support site. You never know what you're getting or who actually made it.
That said, a firmware upgrade will most likely not solve your problem. Firmware upgrades (I do them all the time) are made to address new media types only. If this drive has not burned from day 1 and you've tried different dvd\cd brands, I can gaurantee it's not a firmware issue.
I've tried 2 different software programs and both gave an errror message that i didn't understand, like a code number
Please post the two programs you've tried along with the exact error messages.
This could most likely be something very simple.
Some things you can check right off the bat if you like:
1. If you haven't tried different media types, do so.
2. Check device manager for drive conflicts. If you see none, right click the drive and select properties. If you see a recorder tab, select it and make sure cd recording is enabled.
3. Replace the cable with a new 80 wire cable if you're using the old 40 wire type.
4. Be sure the drive is jumpered correctly.
5. Check bios setup parameters on the drive.