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Steven Willis sheds further light on the relationship between bytes, kilobytes and megabytes...

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Know your bits from your bytes

First, I love the newsletters. I have learned a lot from these emails.

Now, your article on the bits and bytes. I may be able to clear a few things up for your readers. As a programmer and hardware designer, I am fully aware of the difference between bits and bytes and also why 1KB is not 1000 bytes.

Here's the breakdown. Since computers are binary, there are only two states a bit can be in. To make the math a little easier, the kilobyte was not defined as 1000 bytes. It was defined as a power of 2. In this case 2 to the 10th power equals 1024. Electrical engineers also like to think in decades or powers of ten.

The next big step is 1 megabyte or 1,048,576 bytes or 2 to the 20th power. 1 gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes or 2 to the 30th power. 1 terabyte is 2 to the 40th, 1 peta is 2 to the 50th, 1 exabyte is 2 to the 60th.

Electrical engineers seem to like multiples of ten, software programmers seem to like multiples of eight.

Many thanks for the advice and excellent industry information.

Steven Willis

By David Mellor Wednesday April 6, 2005
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