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   ► KBComputer TechSoftware   Print This     
  From the May 2008 Issue of Prestwood eMag
 
Tech Software:
bit, kilobit, Byte, PetaByte: What's what?
 
Posted 11 years ago on 4/1/2008
Take Away: From bit to exabyte, know your quantities.

KB100978



Confused by megabit versus megabyte versus a Terabyte? These are actually pretty easy to understand if you break them down into units and prefixes. The units are bit and byte. The prefixes we'll focus on or kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, and exa.

Bit and Byte

Bit (lowercase "b")
A binary digit, a single, basic unit of information, used in connection with computers and information theory.  A bit is usually represented by a 0 or 1 but can also be represented by anything that can represent on and off. For example, the divits in the surface of a CD.

Byte (uppercase "B")
Adjacent bits, usually eight, processed by a computer as a unit. The combination of bits used to represent a particular letter, number, or special character. Early in computer science history (in the 1950s), computers used 3 and 6 bit bytes. The standard 8-bit byte standardized starting in the late 50s.

Common Units Table

Now that you understand the fundamentals, the following table will make better sense to you.

UnitAbbrev. In BitsFormalInformalNotes 
Bitb1 N/AA binary digit, a single, basic unit of information, used in connection with computers and information theory.  A bit is usually represented by a 0 or 1 but can also be represented by anything that can represent on and off. For example, the divits in the surface of a CD.
kilobitkb1000 x 1   
megabitmb   
Byte B8 x 1 bit 1 Adjacent bits, usually eight, processed by a computer as a unit. The combination of bits used to represent a particular letter, number, or special character.
KiloByte KB210 x 8 bits1,024 bytes 1,000 bytesSometimes used loosely and imprecisely as 1000 bytes.
Megabyte MB220 x 8 bits1,024 kilobytes.  1,000 kilobytesSometimes used loosely and imprecisely as 1 million bytes. In computer science and industry usage, the prefix mega- often does not have its standard scientific meaning of 1,000,000, but refers instead to the power of two closest to 1,000,000, which is 220, or 1,048,576.
Gigabyte GB230 x 8 bits1,024 megabytes. 1,000 megabytesAlso known as 1,000 Megabytes. Sometimes used loosely and imprecisely as 1 billion bytes. Roughly the amount of data required to encode a human gene sequence (including all the redundant codons).
Terabyte TB240 x 8 bits1,024 gigabytes. 1,000 gigabytesAlso known as 1,000 Gigabytes. Sometimes used loosely and imprecisely as 1 trillion bytes.
Petabyte PB250 x 8 bits1,024 Terabytes 1,000 petabytesAlso known as 1,000 Terabytes. Sometimes used loosely and imprecisely as 1 quadrillion bytes.
ExabyteEB260 x 8 bits1,024 petabytes1,000 petabytes 
 


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Mike Prestwood is a drummer, an author, and creator of the PrestwoodBoards online community. He is the President & CEO of Prestwood IT Solutions. Prestwood IT provides Coding, Website, and Computer Tech services. Mike has authored 6 computer books and over 1,200 articles. As a drummer, he maintains play-drums.com and has authored 3 drum books. If you have a project you wish to discuss with Mike, you can send him a private message through his PrestwoodBoards home page or call him 9AM to 4PM PST at 916-726-5675 x205.

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