Bits and Bytes and the Order of Magnitude going beyond Yottabytes

by Jack Korten (Australia)

Digital information storage is measured in bits.

A group of 8 bits constitutes one byte. The byte is the most common unit of measurement of information (a byte is equal to a single letter or character)

In data communications only the Metric definition of a kilobyte (1000 bytes per kilobyte) is correct. The binary definition of a kilobyte (1024 bytes per kilobyte) is used in areas such as data storage (hard disk, memory), but not for expressing bandwidth and throughput.

We transfer data at kbps (kilobits per second) or mbps (megabits per second.

While a megabyte is precisely 1,048,576 bytes, in the metric system it is defined as one million bytes.

Gigabytes comes next and constitutes 1000 megabytes. This is followed by: Terabytes, the equivalent of 1000 Gigabytes.
Petabytes are entering the mainstream in the IT industry, and we see more examples of exabyte and zettabyte in computing environments.

An exabyte of data is created on the Internet each day, which equates to 250 million DVDs worth of information.
The combined space of all computer hard drives in the world was estimated at approximately 160 exabytes in 2006. As of 2009, the entire World Wide Web was estimated to contain close to 500 exabytes.

The next order of magnitude in the International System of Units (SI) is the zettabyte. According to International Data Corporation, the total amount of global data grew to 2.7 zettabytes during 2012. This is an increase of 48% from 2011.

In 2013, the World Wide Web reached 4 zettabytes.

Yottabyte comes after zettabyte.

A yottabyte is a mind-boggling 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.

A yottabyte would require 250 trillion DVDs.

There is no larger official prefix than yottabyte, a 1 followed by 24 zeros.
Given the current growth of computer data, the terms beyond yottabyte may become necessary as early as the year 2020.

What comes after a yottabyte.

A brontobyte, which isn’t an official SI prefix but is apparently recognised by some people in the measurement community, is a 1 followed by 27 zeros.

We’ll eventually have to think bigger and go beyond the brontobyte.

A Gegobyte is 10 to the power of 30, or 1 followed by 30 zeros. It’s meaningless to think about how many DVDs that would be.

•Sensors from a Boeing jet engine create 20 terabytes of data every hour.
•500 terabytes of new data per day are ingested in Facebook databases.

•The CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland generates 1 petabyte per second.

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