Friday, 24 April 2009


I thought I would break off from the theme of maths GCSE for this blog and talk about my new external hard drive for the computer. I recently bought 1 TB of memory. Do you know what this means? If you do then you can move on to the next blog.

Before I give you the answer I just want to mention a billion. Just to be clear, a billion, in most countries, is a thousand million. In Britain a billion used to be a million million, but since 1974 official British government policy has been to adopt the common "thousand million" definition. The BBC and most British mass media have used the "thousand million" definition exclusively ever since then, and most English-speaking countries have followed suit. However, there are still some holdouts, and it is still a widespread source of confusion. I hope you are not too confused. Just stick with a thousand million unless it is clarified.

Have you ever heard of a terabyte? It is abbreviated to TB, and is the capacity of some of the latest hard drives to hit the market. Given the rate at which storage technology is developing, soon all hard drives will be measured in terabytes.

A kilobyte is about a thousand bytes. To be precise it's 1024 bytes, because computers work best with powers of 2, and 1024 is a power of 2. It's given the prefix "kilo", which normally means 1000, because 1024 is close to 1000.

A megabyte is about a thousand kilobytes. A gigabyte is about a thousand megabytes, and a terabyte is about a thousand gigabytes. It's hard to be more precise than that, because some manufacturers wil consider it to be exactly 1000 gigabytes, while others might say that it is 1024 gigabytes, and there are similar discrepancies in the definition of gigabyte and megabyte. But however you look at it, it's a big number. Oh, and a "byte" is 8 "bits", or "BInary digiTS", but that's another story, for another day.

One terabyte: a million million bytes or thereabouts or, to put it another way, the old (pre-1974) British billion. It's ironic that the old usage was mostly abandoned because there didn't seem to be any practical use for it except in astronomy, yet future hard drives will have capacities which could best be expressed using that old British billion.

That sums it up

No comments:

Post a Comment