Counting the Stars in the Digital Universe
“Like our physical universe, the digital universe is something to behold – 1.8 trillion gigabytes in 500 quadrillion files – and more than doubling every two years. That’s nearly as many bits of information in the digital universe as stars in our physical universe”. IDC IView – Extracting Value from Chaos
Not that I don’t have anything better to think about, but I keep reading research and articles that refer to the amount of data which is supposedly doubling every two years. IDC refers to zettabytes of digital data in the world, as opposed to data that resides in the IT world. Regardless, the number is staggering. Actually thinking about a zettabyte can fill you with dread (if you are in IT) or with awe (just an interested third party).
For those who want to know the nitty-gritty details….
- A megabyte is 106 or 1,000,000 bytes or 1000 kilobytes or approximately 6 seconds of uncompressed CD-quality audio
- A gigabyte is 109 or 1,000,000,000 bytes or 1000 megabytes. One DVD holds about 4.7GB of information
- A terabyte is 1012 or 1,000,000,000,000 bytes or 1000 gigabytes. In April 2011, the Library of Congress digital data amounted to about 235 terabytes of data; it adds around 5TB per month
- A petabyte is 1015 or 1000 gigabytes or 1 million terabytes. Google processes around 24PB of data per day and as of August 2011 IBM built a single 120PB storage array (the largest ever)
- An exabyte is 1018 or 1 billion gigabytes or 1 trillion megabytes. According to Cisco’s June 2009 Visual Networking Index, annual worldwide IP traffic will reach 667 exabytes by 2013, with 18 exabytes of Internet video generated per month
- A zettabyte is 1021 or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes 1 trillion gigabytes or 1 quadrillion megabytes. In 2003, Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania calculated (with a nice bit of humor thrown in for good measure) the total amount of all human speech ever spoken to be at 42 zettabytes
Now that we all realize the impact of zettabytes we can look at how all this information is accumulating, although right now my head hurts from thinking about this so it will have to wait until next time…