Bits, Bytes and all the Rest
Today’s Techronym Tuesday requires doing a little “bit” of math as we explain the small b’s and big B’s of bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes and beyond.
b (Bit) – A bit is a binary digit, the smallest increment of data on a computer. A bit can hold only one of two values: 0 or 1, corresponding to the electrical values of off or on, respectively.
B (Byte) – 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”.
KB (kilobyte) – 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.
MB (megabyte) – A Megabyte is 1,024 kilobytes, or 1,048,576 (1024×1024) bytes, not one million bytes. A medium-sized novel contains about 1 MB of information.
GB (gigabyte) – A Gigabyte is 1,024 MB, or 1,073,741,824 (1024x1024x1024) bytes. This is today’s most common measure of RAM (Random Access Memory), HDD’s (Hard Disk Drives) and SSD’s (solid State Drives).
TB (terabyte) – A Terabyte is 1,024 MB, or 1,073,741,824 (1024x1024x1024) bytes. 1 TB is about the same amount of information as all of the books in a large library
PB (petabyte) – A Petabyte is 1,024 TB, or 1,099,511,627,776 (1024x1024x1024x1024) bytes. If written on DVDs, 1PB would create roughly 223,100 DVDs, enough to build a stack about 878 feet tall.
Is there more beyond the PB? Yes! But that’s enough math for one day!