Monday, July 6, 2009

How much is a Terabyte ?

Recently, I heard that one of my movie collector friends was going to buy another 500GB disk drive. He already has a 1.5 terabyte store at his disposal which contains tens of hundreds of movies.
Thinking about that, lead me to think about how much a Terabyte of data actually is.

Here is one interesting compilation about units of data and their relativity -

Excluding additions done by myself, all the data is taken from here.

Bytes (8 bits)

  • 0.1 bytes: A single yes/no decision (actually 0.125 bytes, but I rounded)
  • 1 byte: One character
  • 10 bytes: One word (a word of language, not a computer word)
  • 100 bytes: Telegram; two punched computer (Hollerith) cards

1,024 bytes; 210;
approx. 1,000 or 10

  • 1 Kilobyte: Joke; (very) short story
  • 2 Kilobytes: Typewritten page
  • 10 Kilobytes: Page out of an encyclopedia
  • 50 Kilobytes: Image of a document page, compressed
  • 100 Kilobytes: Photograph, low-resolution
  • 200 Kilobytes: Two boxes (4000) punched computer (Hollerith) cards
  • 500 Kilobytes: Five boxes, one case (10,000 of punched computer (Hollerith) cards

1,048,576 bytes; 220;
approx 1,000,000 or 10

  • 1 Megabyte: Small novel; 3-1/2 inch diskette
  • 2 Megabytes: Photograph, high resolution
  • 5 Megabytes: Complete works of Shakespeare; 30 seconds of broadcast-quality video
  • 10 Megabytes: Minute of high-fidelity sound; digital chest X-ray; Box of 3-1/2 inch diskettes
  • 20 Megabytes: Two boxes of 3-1/2 inch diskettes
  • 50 Megabytes: Digital mammogram
  • 100 Megabytes: Yard of books on a shelf; two encyclopedia volumes
  • 200 Megabytes: Reel of 9-track tape; IBM 3480 cartridge tape
  • 500 Megabytes: Average data content of a CD-ROM

1,073,741,824 bytes; 230;
approx 1,000,000,000 or 10

  • 1 Gigabyte: Paper in the bed of a pickup; symphony in high-fidelity sound; broadcast quality movie
  • 2 Gigabytes: 20 yards of books on a shelf
  • 5 Gigabytes: 8mm Exabyte tape
  • 20 Gigabytes: Audio collection of the works of Beethoven
  • 50 Gigabytes: Library floor of books on shelves
  • 100 Gigabytes: Library floor of academic journals on shelves; large ID-1 digital tape
  • 200 Gigabytes: 50 Exabyte tapes

1,099,511,627,776 or 240;
approx. 1,000,000,000,000 or 10

  • 1 Terabyte: Automated tape robot; all the X-ray films in a large technological hospital; 50,000 trees made into paper and printed; daily rate of EOS (Earth Orbiting System) data (1998)
  • 2 Terabytes: Academic research ligrary
  • 10 Terabytes: Printed collection of the U. S. Library of Congress
  • 50 Terabytes: Contents of a large mass storage system
  • ~70 Terabytes: Total space taken up by Google Earth imagery

1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes or 250
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000 or 10

  • 1 Petabyte: 3 years of EOS data (2001)
  • 2 Petabytes: All U. S. academic research libraries
  • 5-8 Petabytes: Dec '08 estimate of monthly internet traffic of the entire world
  • 20 Petabytes: 1995 production of hard-disk drives
  • 200 Petabytes: All printed material; 1995 production of digital magnetic tape

1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes or 260
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10

  • 1 Exabyte: 50,000 years of DVD quality video
  • 5 Exabytes: All words ever spoken by human beings (in text)
  • 988 Exabytes: Estimated size of total digital information created/duplicated in year 2010.

1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 bytes or 270
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10

  • ~2.25 Zettabytes: Amount of information that can be stored in 1 gram of DNA
  • 42 Zettabytes: Storage for all human speech if digitized as 16 kHz 16-bit audio

1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes or 280
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10

  • 1 Yottabyte: Higher end estimate of the total number of grains of sand on earth

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