Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Zettabyte - 'New Largest Unit of Digital Measurement'?!?

Story First, then my confusion / why this is article is weird.


"The size of the “digital universe” will swell so rapidly this year that a new unit - the zettabyte - has been invented to measure it.

Humanity’s total digital output currently stands at 8,000,000 petabytes - which each represent a million gigabytes - but is expected to pass 1.2 zettabytes this year.

One zettabyte is equal to one million petabytes, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 individual bytes.

So a Zettabyte is the 'new largest unit of digital measurement'? The first question one might ask is where they got that term from. A 30 second Google search will show you that it was already agreed upon. That means it is not really a new term. What is more, it is not the largest already agreed upon. That distinction goes to the yottabyte; the largest digital unit of measure that currently generally accepted. More accurately the article could have said that we are about to enter the Zettabyte age, but to say that it is the new largest unit of measure is wrong on multiple fronts.


"Because bits are so small, you rarely work with information one bit at a time. Bits are usually assembled into a group of eight to form a byte. A byte contains enough information to store a single ASCII character, like "h".

A kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes, not one thousand bytes as might be expected, because computers use binary (base two) math, instead of a decimal (base ten) system.

Computer storage and memory is often measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). A medium-sized novel contains about 1MB of information. 1MB is 1,024 kilobytes, or 1,048,576 (1024x1024) bytes, not one million bytes.

Similarly, one 1GB is 1,024MB, or 1,073,741,824 (1024x1024x1024) bytes. A terabyte (TB) is 1,024GB; 1TB is about the same amount of information as all of the books in a large library, or roughly 1,610 CDs worth of data. A petabyte (PB) is 1,024TB. Indiana University is now building storage systems capable of holding petabytes of data. An exabyte (EB) is 1,024PB. A zettabyte (ZB) is 1,024EB. Finally, a yottabyte (YB) is 1,024ZB.

Many hard drive manufacturers use a decimal number system to define amounts of storage space. As a result, 1MB is defined as one million bytes, 1GB is defined as one billion bytes, and so on. Since your computer uses a binary system as mentioned above, you may notice a discrepancy between your hard drive's published capacity and the capacity acknowledged by your computer. For example, a hard drive that is said to contain 10GB of storage space using a decimal system is actually capable of storing 10,000,000,000 bytes. However, in a binary system, 10GB is 10,737,418,240 bytes. As a result, instead of acknowledging 10GB, your computer will acknowledge 9.31GB. This is not a malfunction but a matter of different definitions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Like what you read; Subscribe/Fan/Follow