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Apple Kicks HDD Marketing Debate Into High Gear

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the foot-pounds-per-league dept.

Data Storage 711

quacking duck writes "With the release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Apple has updated a support document describing how their new operating system reports capacities of hard drives and other media. It has sided with hard drive makers, who for years have advertised capacities as '1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes' instead of the traditional computer science definition, and in so doing has kicked the debate between marketing and computer science into high gear. Binary prefixes for binary units (e.g. GiB for 'gibibyte') have been promoted by the International Electrotechnical Commission and endorsed by IEEE and other standards organizations, but to date there's been limited acceptance (though manufacturers have wholeheartedly accepted the 'new' definitions for GB and TB). Is Apple's move the first major step in forcing computer science to adopt the more awkward binary prefixes, breaking decades of accepted (if technically inaccurate) usage of SI prefixes?"

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711 comments

Its been done for years already (4, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242531)

Is Apple's move the first major step in forcing computer science to adopt the more awkward binary prefixes, breaking decades of accepted (if technically inaccurate) usage of SI prefixes?

No, its not any first major step. HDD makers already went there years ago, its established and people know better what it means. And even if I'm quite a nerd myself, I never think that 1 terabytes = 1 048 576 megabytes. Yeah it would be great if I remembered that or as many decimals in PI as possible, but no one really cares. It's a lot easier to remember and think that 1 terabyte is 1 000 000 megabytes, even if its not technically so because of binary system and even if I know that - I still think so just for the easy of it.

And its a mac. What did you think? It's as far from a nerdy computer as possible. Obviously they are going to use terms and units that non-geeky people understand.

Re:Its been done for years already (5, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242587)

What's more, Apple's been sued a couple of times over the definition of a gigabyte by angry idiots who didn't understand that 10^9 != 2^30. Possibly they're doing this in part to minimize their future liability.

Re:Its been done for years already (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242679)

I'm quite a nerd myself, I never think that 1 terabytes = 1 048 576 megabytes

Well of course not; why the fuck would you want to? That's like wondering how many hours there are in a week - who cares? 1 terabyte is 1024 gigbytes. Converting it into megabytes is pointless for the purposes of most people.

Hey let's have a 10 bit byte as well to make conversions that nobody ever does, easier.

Re:Its been done for years already (4, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242715)

Your example is bad because its the default one. 1 terabyte to 1024 gigabytes is easy. How quickly you calculate that to 4TB? 15TB? 492TB? Or for more better example, 405GB to MB's? Its just a lot easier to think 405GB = 405 000MB than start calculating it, while its kinda close anyway.

Re:Its been done for years already (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242783)

> 1 terabyte to 1024 gigabytes is easy. How quickly you calculate that to 4TB? 15TB? 492TB? Or for more better example, 405GB to MB's?

It's a COMPUTER, why not let it do the calculation for you? This is why we use the machines in the first place.

The interface should give you the option of reporting bytes in SI or traditional CS units.

A bigger issue, for me, is why the stupid Finder reports file sizes based on blocks! This makes no sense. I can plug in a flash drive, and the Finder will report that a 12KB file, copied to the desktop, is now a 16KB file. This isn't rocket science, FIX IT already, Apple!!

Re:Its been done for years already (5, Informative)

mftb (1522365) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243103)

Because as far as disk space occupation goes, that file may as well be 16KB.

Re:Its been done for years already (5, Informative)

mokus000 (1491841) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243109)

A bigger issue, for me, is why the stupid Finder reports file sizes based on blocks! This makes no sense. I can plug in a flash drive, and the Finder will report that a 12KB file, copied to the desktop, is now a 16KB file. This isn't rocket science, FIX IT already, Apple!!

Well, given an 8k or 16k block size, a 12k file *DOES* consume 16k of usable disk space. Plus 600-700 bytes for the inode and directory entry. Plus more if there's any magic Apple-y metadata associated with the file.

For what reason do you expect any filesystem browser to report the exact number of bytes in a file? I'm almost always more interested in knowing how much disk space is used by the file - 16k in your example. In a filesystem like JFS that dynamically allocates inodes, I might even expect it to report the space used by the inode. FWIW, 'du' will report 16k in your example as well. Is 'du' wrong too?

Also, what should it report for directories? Taking a directory of the source of GHC 6.10.4 on my computer as an example (lots and lots of smallish source code files):

$ find . -type f -exec cat {} \; | wc -c
  29776950
$ du -sk .
35036 .

Those numbers don't match (taking into account the conversion between bytes in the first case and kb in the second), but I can't see a reason ever to care about the first one. It's not even a very good indicator of what size an uncompressed tar file would be.

Finally, I just went and took a look at a small file on the desktop of my mac. "Get Info" tells me:

Size: 8 KB on disk (782 bytes)

So it *does* report the number of bytes in the file, as well as the disk usage, clearly labeled. Now I really don't exactly know what you're whining about.

Re:Its been done for years already (4, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242861)

Seriously, did you ever need to? I've been in IT since 1998 and I cannot remember ONE situation where I thought "This is so inconvenient, I need a calculator for this shit. Couldn't they just make a Gigabyte 1000'000'000 Bytes?"

So we've had a defined standard that was, arguably, not the easiest to understand. THEN harddrive manufacturers started their fraud. And THEN people started complaining. So what, and please think about this, would be the right decision here?

As to being complicated: If that is your argument, then all the English speaking countries should switch to metric according to your logic. Obviously, a lot of people don't like that. So why is it okay here and not okay there?

Re:Its been done for years already (4, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243065)

The problem isn't the definition, it's that OS's and hardware manufacturers have been using different definitions. If both of them would stick to factors of 1000, there would be no problem. If they all stick to 1024, there would be no problem. The problem is that both definitions are used.

Personally I'd vote for 1000, since it's just easier for most people. That way they could easily know that 1001 1MB files do not fit on a 1GB USB stick and all the world would be consistent.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243137)

Or for more better example, 405GB to MB's?

Easy!

405GB = 1024 MB, 405 times.

Re:Its been done for years already (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242723)

Not really, how many hours in a week is a lot easier to do in your head than how many bites in a terabyte. Additionally, the computer scientists shouldn't have been using prefixes that already had a meaning.

And BTW, the answer is 168.

Re:Its been done for years already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242811)

Not really, how many hours in a week is a lot easier to do in your head than how many bites in a terabyte.

However easy it might be to calculate hour in a week in your head, I don't I've ever wanted to do so. I think that's the point. I dare say there are people who need to calculate how many megabytes in a terabyte (or how many minutes in a fortnight or whatever) but I suspect that they're a tiny tiny minority of people. For most purposes it just doesn't matter.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

bahbar (982972) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243025)

how many bites in a terabyte.

That one is easy: a mouthful.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242685)

I think the problem is going to get worse over time, as small differences in KB/KiB and MB/MiB get compounded.

I recently purchased a 1TB drive. After making one large partition and formatting it, df tells me the size is 917G (aka GiB). In my mind, that's a loss of 83 GiB, which is larger than hard drives I got just 7 years ago.

Yes, the normal home user won't notice the difference, but it's still there. I think drive manufacturers are doing a disservice to their customers, but at least they're correct in their labeling and advertising.

In other news, whenever you format an ext3 partition, remember that 5% is set aside for root use. For a 917GiB partition, that's almost 5GiB. Do yourself a favor and reduce it to 1% with tune2fs.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242807)

5% of 917 is 45.85. You seem to have calculated 0.5%. So it is actually a lot more than you said.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

Enry (630) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243019)

Whoops, you're right.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242717)

What does Windows use?

What does Linux use?

What should we use for formatted capacity? A formatted block is a power of two size, but you don't necessarily have a power of two quantity of blocks.

Hard drive manufacturers have advertised capacities using 10^3 instead of 2^10 for years and years. Therefore matching that seems sensible, or you'll get support costs as people query it. There's nothing we can do about it in the end - we won't get extra capacity however it is reported, so who cares?

RAM, however, is addresses in powers of two, and should always be reported that way in software. If that means using the annoying KiB, GiB, MiB, PiB, TiB suffixes, then so be it. Maybe it's time to give up on what I considered a de-facto standard in the 80s and 90s, and just go with what is well defined. :-(

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242799)

I actually have a great experience from these weird suffixes myself. iftop seems to report traffic amount like 39.6Kb. After years I've still never understood what it means exactly. I think its equivalent to kbit/s. But maybe its equivalent to KB/s. I've always just taken guess about the possibility at what it could mean. Other people also say iftop's reporting is retarted. Anyone know what Kb etc on it *actually* mean?

This is why its bad to have so many different close to each other suffixes.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242901)

Kb is Kelvin bits.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

TheCount22 (952106) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242959)

Kb is kilobits so kilobytes divided by 8. Oh way no! Not with this new crap...
It now means 39 600 bits per second or 4.95KB/s or 4.83KiB/s assuming it's using the old convention.

Re:Its been done for years already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242757)

You are doing it wrong, 1 terabyte is 0x10000 megabytes. Easy.

Re:Its been done for years already (1)

RedK (112790) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242869)

And its a mac. What did you think? It's as far from a nerdy computer as possible.

Ah.. ignorance.. I've always found computers that provides mystical commands to find out if your EFI is 32 or 64 bit to be nerdy :

$ ioreg -l -p IODeviceTree | grep -A 7 "o efi"
+-o efi <class IOService, !registered, !matched, active, busy 0, retain 7>
| | {
| | "firmware-revision" = <0a000100>
| | "device-properties" = <f80a00000100000002000000ad0900002d00000002010c00d0410$
| | "name" = <"efi">
| | "firmware-vendor" = <4100700070006c0065000000>
| | "firmware-abi" = <"EFI64">
| | }
$ uname -a
Darwin aaa.aaa 9.8.0 Darwin Kernel Version 9.8.0: Wed Jul 15 16:55:01 PDT 2009; root:xnu-1228.15.4~1/RELEASE_I386 i386

We can't forget that under the nice Quartz GUI, there is a Unix core.

Re:Its been done for years already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243063)

Well, I find 100000000000000000000 megabytes a lot easier to remember compared to 11110100001001000000 megabytes.

Is that why (4, Funny)

MeNeXT (200840) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242557)

snow leopard frees 7gigs? Because it can't do the math? #8^)

Re:Is that why (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242665)

That was my first thought too. I did get back something closer to 11 gig, not the 7 some others reported (and what Apple says on their website).

Re:Is that why (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242833)

The Darwin versions of utilities like du and df have had the -h and -H (human readable numbers with either binary or decimal prefixes) the opposite way around to FreeBSD since 10.5. They made the existing switches, that had always reported the power-of-two sizes, display the power-of-ten ones and moved the old behaviour to the new option. In FreeBSD, they added new options for the power-of-ten versions. I wondered why my files suddenly became smaller after copying them to a FreeBSD machine for a while before I noticed this.

Re:Is that why (3, Informative)

RedK (112790) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242903)

No, you still get around 6-7 Gigs back by installing Snow Leopard, but it's reported as higher than that. When we installed it on a Macbook Pro 13" at work, we actually got 15 gigs back. Which was puzzling until we learned that everything was counted in base 10 now, so it makes sense and it is as Apple advertised.

bug (0, Troll)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242615)

Isn't counting a GB as 1000000000 bytes a bug?

Re:bug (1, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242753)

No, it's not a bug, it's an instance of computer scientists not thinking through their measurements carefully when assigning prefixes. Mega is normally 1 million and Giga is normally 1 billion, reassigning them to be defined based upon base two for one type of measurement was a serious mistake.

Re:bug (4, Insightful)

RedK (112790) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242951)

Yeah, but the alternative Mebi and Gibi sounds like something out yaoi. So I'd rather stick with 1 Gigabyte = 1024 Megabytes.

Re:bug (2, Insightful)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243129)

Yeah, but the alternative Mebi and Gibi sounds like something out yaoi. So I'd rather stick with 1 Gigabyte = 1024 Megabytes

I think that's a big reason why people have a problem with "KiBi," "MeBi," "GiBi" etc. - they just sound silly.

Since "bit" is a contraction of "binary digit" anyway, I would prefer something like "bi-kilobyte," "bi-megabyte," etc., written "KB(sub)2"

computers user base 2 (1, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242631)

And people who manufacture things for computers should adhere to that standard.

Next up: Astronomists convert to the 100-day year.

People use base 10 (3, Insightful)

aaronrp (773980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242673)

And people who manufacture things for people should adhere to that standard. Computers are the means, not the end.

Re:computers user base 2 (3, Interesting)

evilbessie (873633) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242817)

You want to accept inconsistancies within your own field (MHz, GHz, MB etc.) rather than havng to change things. Because it's not as if anything ever changes with computers. Some parts of computers use base 2, others do not, there has been a definitive set of standards since 1999, getting MS on board would pretty much solve the problem as that is what people would then see their computer tell them.

that "standard"? (5, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243089)

The "standard"? All of the standards associations recommend using G/M/K as prefixes with the base-10 meanings, and using the unambiguous Gi/Mi/Ki (gibi/mebi/kibi) for base-2 measurements. One standards organization was willing to allow the deprecated use of G/M/K as base-2 for measuring semiconductor memory (i.e., RAM) only.

Do you also recommend that we will suddenly measure disk drive capacity in a different unit if/when we all move to using quantum computers or computers based on some other new currently unfamiliar technology?

Oh, and BTW, at least one of the technologies which has a small chance of replacing current RAM technologies, phase-change memory, could theoretically store 3 or 5 states per unit cell instead of 2 or 4, given the right material undergoing the phase change. One of the reasons not to do it is because it would be a pain to convert to and from base-2 to interface with the computer, so in the long run it is possible (but not necessarily likely, because there is a large initial development cost) that some computing devices will be designed to work in base-3 or base-5 if only to better utilize the abilities of PCM.

I have a better idea... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242653)

I have always hated conventional electric polarity. The + of a battery or circuit is always the one supplying the electrons and confuses anyone who understands something about electron flow. This needs to change first, then we can worry about prefixes.

Re:I have a better idea... (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242727)

Blame Ben Franklin - or just forget about electrons and pretend that the holes are actually doing the work. Then all the symbols make sense.

Re:I have a better idea... (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242855)

Better yet - do something about it: Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:I have a better idea... (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242893)

I would say its the negative charge of the electron thats arbitrary in this case- since the positive terminal is supplying something thats moving towards the negative terminal the flow seems right. Just because electrons arbitrarily have a negative charge doesn't mean we should relabel the nodes- we should redefine proton as negative and electron as positive, and update their names if need be.

Re:I have a better idea... (1)

TheCount22 (952106) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243037)

It's the charge that moves not the electrons! At least according to most electronics teachers...

MAC games (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242659)

A friend bought a new hard drive, 500 GB. We stuck it in his MAC, and then his MAC said that it only had 460 GB! WTF? Is this another form of the Apple tax or what?

At least now they've fixed the OS to report the drive as 500 GB, but will that 40 GB really just be gobbled up by the OS?

makes sense to me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242669)

This makes perfect sense to me. We're getting to the point where the OS reports filesizes back to the user as 17MB or 1.3GB or whatever. It makes sense that they would settle on one easy to remember method of expressing those values. Sure, the geeks among us understand the difference between a GiB and a GB, but we shouldn't expect the average layperson to have to know that 1GiB really is 1,073,741,824 bytes. Let the basic Explorer or Finder views report the filesize back in simplistic, rounded values that most people will understand, so long as the actual real filesize values are available in the Get Info windows, Explorer properties, command line or wherever.

Re:makes sense to me (2, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242781)

Does it make a difference though?
To the end user, it doesn't matter how many bytes are in a MB or a GB, be it 1000000 or 56125142, the end result is all they'll ever see. So the difference is going to be if they see 17MB or 16.2MB. To them, its just a number, they don't care where that number came from, all they know is that 17Mb is going to take up a certain percentage of the hard drive.
The only people it actually poses a problem for are those that actually do know the difference, the ones that prefer to adhere to one standard and have been using that standard for years.

Re:makes sense to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242889)

Exactly! If Joe Enduser buys a 1TB hard drive and plugs it into his computer, have the OS report back that it's a 1TB drive (which is what Apple is doing with 10.6). Meanwhile, Sam Geekbody will understand that it's really 1TiB and that there is a difference due to the decimal/binary conversion, formatting overhead, block allocation size, etc. And when he wants to know exactly how many bytes a particular file is taking up, he can dig into the detailed information to find it. Both parties are appeased, and the vocal one who has a tendency to sue because "I didn't get what I paid for" is shut up.

Re:makes sense to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243069)

Sure, the geeks among us understand the difference between a GiB and a GB, but we shouldn't expect the average layperson to have to know that 1GiB really is 1,073,741,824 bytes.

When did the average layperson become so inept at learning and understanding that this tiny thing became an unreasonable burden? I missed THAT meeting.

Re:makes sense to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243141)

When did the average layperson become so inept at learning and understanding that this tiny thing became an unreasonable burden? I missed THAT meeting.

This is such a typical geek response. Nevermind that the geeks are the ones that have been using an incorrect prefix for 5+ decades, it's everyone else who should adapt!

Tilting at windmills (5, Informative)

Melkhior (169823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242677)

The SI prefixes have been around for nearly 5 decades, and have a specific meaning used by everybody. Every scientist uses them in one way or another, and for every last one of of them, they have the same meaning.

Why can't we, the C.S. people, accept that?

Giga is 10^9. It has been 10^9 since it was created. It was never, ever meant to be anything but 10^9.

If you want to talk about 1024^3, then it's Gibi. Gibi is 2^30 since it was created. It was never, ever meant to be anything but 2^30.

Get over it.

(and yes, I try to always use GiB whenever it's appropriate).

customer enlightenment and its drawbacks (2, Insightful)

hoarier (1545701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242873)

The SI prefixes have been around for nearly 5 decades, and have a specific meaning used by everybody. Every scientist uses them in one way or another, and for every last one of of them, they have the same meaning.

Why can't we, the C.S. people, accept that?

The lasting ambiguity for hard drives has perhaps been less a matter of computer science than one of marketing. (The pervasiveness of inch measurements is a heavy hint at uninterest in SI.)

It used to be that companies were happy if there was a general impression that the drives were bigger than they actually were, because hard drive storage costs weren't negligible and people actually risked running out of space. What incentive would Northgate and Zeos have had for prominently pointing out that their Miniscribe and Micropolis (?) 65MB drives really were what they said they were, rather than what customers optimistically presumed they'd be?

Now, by contrast, even my laptop has 500 gig-somethings -- I never bothered to see which, as I don't suppose I'll ever use more than one fifth of the space; and if by chance I ever do come close to filling it up I'll replace it with a 4TB drive or whatever's the ludicrous norm by that time.

Re:customer enlightenment and its drawbacks (1)

Melkhior (169823) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243139)

The lasting ambiguity for hard drives has perhaps been less a matter of computer science than one of marketing. (The pervasiveness of inch measurements is a heavy hint at uninterest in SI.)

Actually, people who use the metric system outweigh people using imperial by a wide margin. In my entourage, nobody except for geeks knows how long an inch is. As you can guess, I don't live in the US. As for the marketing: yes, marketdroids will do anything to sell. We all know that. But when "anything" becomes "make use of an established international standard", how can we protest?

And C.S. is at fault there. Why did it hijack prefixes to make them mean something else? It was stupid from the beginning. For Kilo I can understand, the error is small ; but from Mega onward, it was just plain laziness. That's why I try to use binary prefixes these days. Atonement :-)

Obligatory old timer anecdote: remember those "1.2MB" and "1.44MB" floppy disk? Worst of them all: the megabytes here were neither 1024^2 nor 10^6, but 1024*10^3, as in 1200 KiB and 1440 KiB.

I agree with HD manufacturers too. (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242691)

For things where there's a clear "address bus" that consists of all possible permutations of a binary bit field, it makes sense to use the powers of two. The 2^10 kilo-, 2^20- mega, 2^30 giga- is just a convenience in terminology due to their approximate equivalence to 10^3, 10^6, 10^9, respectively; however, the bigger you go, obviously they diverge quite a bit.

For things addressed by a system of arbitrary track/cylinder numbers, say, 336 tracks or 1435 tracks, and arbitrary platter/head numbers, it's ridiculous to say that they should follow the "convenience" of the powers of two scheme.

So, how should flash drives be measured and marketed? While the components are physically based on an address bus, they present themselves to the host with sector numbers just like the spinning drives do. They can also reserve some "spare" cells in their internal mapping, for wear-leveling or error correction. I'd say they could easily make the case for marketing under SI/IEEE powers of ten.

Re:I agree with HD manufacturers too. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29242983)

For things where there's a clear "address bus" that consists of all possible permutations of a binary bit field, it makes sense to use the powers of two. The 2^10 kilo-, 2^20- mega, 2^30 giga- is just a convenience in terminology due to their approximate equivalence to 10^3, 10^6, 10^9, respectively; however, the bigger you go, obviously they diverge quite a bit.

For things addressed by a system of arbitrary track/cylinder numbers, say, 336 tracks or 1435 tracks, and arbitrary platter/head numbers, it's ridiculous to say that they should follow the "convenience" of the powers of two scheme.

So, how should flash drives be measured and marketed? While the components are physically based on an address bus, they present themselves to the host with sector numbers just like the spinning drives do. They can also reserve some "spare" cells in their internal mapping, for wear-leveling or error correction. I'd say they could easily make the case for marketing under SI/IEEE powers of ten.

Disk geometry hasn't been used for many years. LBAs are how modern disks are addressed. The number of logical blocks is some arbitrary number based on geometry, density, number of spare blocks, etc. However, those blocks hold a power-of-2 worth of user data, plus ECC, EDC, and/or DIF metadata. Since the raw, user-accessible unit is binary and the user data is measured in binary units, there is a good argument for the total capacity to be measured in binary units as well. This would apply to FLASH devices as well.

If the storage devices weren't block oriented, like streaming or byte-level devices, then abandoning the power-of-2 would b more reasonable.

Re:I agree with HD manufacturers too. (1)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242989)

Would I be right in saying that this means you can calculate the amount of "spare" sectors a flash drive has for remapping (assuming the majority of cells are designed for remapping and very few for mapping tables).

Also, does this mean that as flash storage systems get bigger, they also get considerably more reliable, because they have, as a percentage, more remapping sectors? (4.9% for drives measured in MB, 7.4% for drives measured in GB). Since write speed doesn't scale linearly with size, it also means that even ignoring the different percentage of remapping sectors, the minimum lifespan still increases.

Also, for the same reason, presumably drive yields should increase since more cells can be faulty on the production line.

Re:I agree with HD manufacturers too. (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243005)

Come to think of it, when hard drives became widespread, binary units had been in use for a long time for RAM and the custom stuck. Plus, space is allocated in 256/512 byte blocks to make loading/unloading into RAM so much easier.

so junk convenience for accuracy (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243177)

> The 2^10 kilo-, 2^20- mega, 2^30 giga- is just a convenience in terminology

and I've decided, long ago, to use kibi, mebi, and gibi instead even if it means I have to explain myself more. Less convenient, more accurate.

I don't pretend to know what is best for anyone else, however. Unlike a lot of people on both sides of this flamewar. (Of course, I would prefer that more people would use the binary prefixes, as then I would eventually have less explaining to do.)

Small differential (1)

commandlinegamer (1046764) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242695)

It is relatively simple, if you have the small amount like 1 quilobyte, that the octet is with 1024, but to measure to him is to the end of the multiplied difference, so of such way possibly the hour for a modification.

1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (5, Informative)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242707)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_1541 [wikipedia.org]

These IEEE recomendations seam like common sense to me.

1 KB = 1,000 bytes
1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes
1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes


And for you droids and androids out there:

1 KiB = 1,024 bytes
1 MiB = 1,048,576 bytes
1 GiB = 1,073,741,824 bytes

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242835)

You mean by redefining it to mean something different from what it had normally meant during the previous four to five decades, a meaning that had been used in untold thousands of books, scientific papers and Slashdot postings?

Must be some strange new meaning of 'common sense' that I wasn't previously aware of.

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243017)

And for a thousand years "sinister" meant "left" (as in the opposite of right). Things change, get over it.

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (2, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243095)

SI units have been in use since the nineteenth century. The uses of binary mathematics and exponents in computer science is well understood, and has always been known as an approximate measure. It's called the kilobyte BECAUSE there are about 1000 of them. It is in analogy to (surprise) the SI prefix k-, which denotes 1000. But somehow you expect this to be the only "k-" to stand for 1024. That makes a lot of sense...

I can understand the computer scientist's reasons for coining the term, but it must fall by the wayside. It is literally wrong, despite being useful in some contexts. In most contexts, it doesn't matter one way or the other. That's more support that the notion of k- as 1024 should be dropped. The only contexts in which 1024 makes any sense at all is when dealing with powers of two. And analytically, it makes MUCH MORE sense to just deal with the powers of two. So k- as 1024 is only marginally useful even when it is useful at all.

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (1)

Tomfrh (719891) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243143)

Oh get over it. Just be a man and face up to the fact we've been doing it wrong the past few decades.

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (1)

orkybash (1013349) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243165)

Do you have an argument for the validity of the old standard other than an appeal to tradition? Anyone who cares and who needs to read those books or papers can certainly learn that before a certain date, an older definition was used.

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242853)

1 KB = 0x3E8 bytes
1 MB = 0xF4240 bytes
1 GB = 0x3B9ACA00 bytes

I might be able to remember 0x3E8 but the rest would difficult.

1 KiB = 0x400 bytes
1 MiB = 0x10000 bytes
1 GiB = 0x40000000 bytes

Nice and clean.

Re:1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242995)

And how many MB can you address with a 32-bit pointer under the IEEE recommendations? I bet you can't work it out in your head. The point of the prefixes was to be computationally convenient. For physical quantities, the ability to perform base-ten conversions is important. For addressable spaces, indexed by binary values, a binary-deriverd system makes more sense. If I have a 16-bit pointer, then I know I can address 2^6 KB of data, and 2^6 is 64, so that gives a 64KB address space. With a 32-bit pointer, I can address 2^2 GB of data; 4GB. In terms of hard drives, let's say you have a 32-bit filesystem indexing 512 byte blocks (a typical size for hard drives, although some very new ones are using 4KB[1]). 512 bytes is half a KB, so that's 2^31 KB of address space, meaning your partitions are limited to 2TB. Try doing that calculation in decimal units without referring to a calculator - or even a pen and paper.

As someone wrote in their sig, SI units are meant to be computationally convenient. It is very rare to find a computation on disk or memory space that is easier in decimal than in binary, because the values used to index them (which define the most convenient logarithm base to use) are all binary.

[1] Note that even while using decimal sizes for marketing, they are still using binary sizes for engineering, because using the decimal ones in the domain where SI was intended to simplify matters is too difficult.

There's a debate? Don't think so (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242711)

If it were a debate, there would be discussion and consensus building. This is a case of marketing trumping computer science.

We see it all over. When facts, figures or even units of measure are are hard to adjust to, just spin it into something that makes more sense.

I wonder, though. If they decided to call these "metric memory units" would I feel any better about it? Perhaps I would. But the fact remains that there is still 8 bits to a byte and not 10. That's where the problem starts and addressing things further down the pipe makes the solution inconsistent. Perhaps the best solution is to take everyone off of the decimal counting system and either cut a finger off of the hands and a toe off of the feet of every newborn or bio-engineer everyone to have 8 fingers and toes on each hand and foot would reduce confusion a bit.

Let's be clear on this situation: HDD makers, instead of making larger HDDs would rather spin the numbers to make them appear larger instead of actually being larger. And to do this, they have changed a standard unit of measure. But the same thing is happening with milk and other food producers seeking to change the definition of "organic" so they can sell more food without actually being organic. The same thing is happening in other computer hardware makers where laptop battery life is exaggerated. (Yeah, I can get two weeks of batter life out of my laptop ... if I don't use it!) It is past time that consumer advocacy and government agencies step in to regulate the false advertising.

Re:There's a debate? Don't think so (2, Insightful)

AdamHaun (43173) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243107)

But the same thing is happening with milk and other food producers seeking to change the definition of "organic" so they can sell more food without actually being organic.

That's probably not the best example given that "organic" has several much older definitions [reference.com] which happen to include almost all food, while the newer marketing term has given us such gross violations of language as "organic table salt".

Re:There's a debate? Don't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243125)

But the same thing is happening with milk and other food producers seeking to change the definition of "organic" so they can sell more food without actually being organic.

Why shouldn't they call it 'organic' provided that it is carbon-based? After all, that definition has been used for a lot longer than the one you are defending.

They are merely kidnapping a word that you thought you had rightfully stolen.

Benchmarks (3, Interesting)

TheCount22 (952106) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242719)

This mean the downloads will seem faster on a Mac. What about benchmarks? Does this mean we are going to see tons of amateur reviews with inaccurate results? I hope Apple gives us a way to switch back to GiB mode in any case.

FFS (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242735)

This is going to be extremely annoying when downloading files on the internets. They'll be larger than they appear.

Re:FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29242981)

They'll be larger than they appear.

Too bad they don't do this on bra sizes.

Okay, so technically, (2, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242737)

the prefixes "kilo," "mega," "giga," "tera," etc. all go by tens.
Kilo = 10^3
Mega = 10^6
Giga = 10^9
Tera = 10^12
and so forth.

Rewriting these to go by the tens digit in the exponent attached to 2 (2^10 = 1024, 2^20 = 1048576, etc.) is kinda... stupid, actually, since it strips the meaning of the prefixes. I know that hardware manufacturers heart binary, but this is one of those cases where doing so would be defacing the English language and all languages which use these prefixes.

Re:Okay, so technically, (4, Informative)

TheCount22 (952106) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242849)

Kilo = 1<<10
Mega = 1<<20
Giga = 1<<30
Tera = 1<<40

Goes by ten!

Re:Okay, so technically, (2, Interesting)

Sxerks (310435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242865)

The prefixes are different already, there is no centibyte for millibyte, it's not really a scientific measurement to begin with.

So there is no problem with using them in the original context (2^10....)

And no logical reason whatsoever for the terms (KiB,MiB,GiB) to have been created in the first place

Should have been binary from the start... (1, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242741)

... truth is BASE 10 should have never been used for computers from the start. The storage hardware manufacturers just wanted to lie to make their products look better then they are (as per usual in business).

Hardware manufacturers being close to computer sciences really should have known better. By keeping the standard and just publishing both BASE2 and BASE10 just like how where I live we have english AND french words on packaging.

Re:Should have been binary from the start... (1)

TheCount22 (952106) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242801)

This has nothing to do with languages in a bilingual country.

Apple leads the way towards poor grammar (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242743)

From the link:

A 200 GB drive show 200 GB capacity

VERY smooth! Well, it explains the generally poor written English skills displayed by the Apple fanbois here.

Debate? (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242747)

I always thought it was just clueless marketing morons who couldn't do math. The same group of people responsible for marketing CRT-based monitor sizes (the TUBE is 17", including behind the 2" bezel), tape drive storage capacities (assuming 2:1 compression ratio!) and all electronics battery life measurements (examples too numerous to list).

I can't count the number of times I had to explain to people who bought an extra hard drive where 3% of it disappeared when they checked the size in Windows Explorer.

While Apple is certainly rules by the marketing drones, they aren't morons by any stretch of the imagination. I think the engineering people finally just gave in when their grandmother called and asked why her new 500 GB drive was only showing 482 GB when installed. I can hear them crying with frustration all the way over on the other coast.

The ripoff scales non-linearly with size (5, Informative)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242759)

For 1KB the difference is 24 bytes.
For 1MB, 2**20 - 10**6 = 48576, 48KB difference or 4.6% less than the larger of the two.
For 1GB, 2**30 - 10**9 = 73741824 (73MB), 6.9%.

For a 1TB hard disk you're being short-changed by 9%: 94 gigabytes!

Re:The ripoff scales non-linearly with size (1)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242927)

So with bigger drives the probability of Apple being sued because the 1TB iPod only appears as 990GB iPod in OS X increases. It was only a matter of time before the two domains software and hardware had to converge, and obviously they had to converge in the way that makes bigger numbers come out.

Re:The ripoff scales non-linearly with size (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242929)

Erm.... perhaps it's because the relationship between KB, MB and GB is... nonlinear?

Re:The ripoff scales non-linearly with size (2, Informative)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242963)

What exactly is your point? If someone went into the store to buy a 2TB disk, only to format it and see that it is only 1.8TB, do you think they are going to call the drive maker, or the OS maker to figure out why it won't format the whole drive? I think Apple just is attempting to make it easier for non-computer folks to understand, and less calls for them.

Personally, it would be nice if this was configurable (it may very well be in some config file somewhere). Geeks in the know would set it to binary, but non-techies will feel happier with their drive purchases.

Besides, apple sells external enclosures, too (time capsule). How does it make them look when they advertise a 2TB drive then when it gets used only shows 1.7GB of usable space? They had to get their terms consistent one way or the other, and suddenly rebranding their 2TB drives as 1.8TB drives would put them at a competitive disadvantage compared to EVERY OTHER drive maker.

Re:The ripoff scales non-linearly with size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243001)

uh...no duh...thats why they're called "exponents" and not non-linear multiplication

Wait 8 weeks (2, Interesting)

nickovs (115935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242773)

The difference between 2^30 and 10^9 is about 7.4%. Disc drive capacity has been growing at least as fast as CPU power, doubling every 18 month, for as long as I can remember. This means that it takes about 8 weeks for drive capacity to grow by 7.4%. This should mean that by the time the marketing literature has made it through the bureaucratic process of being reviewed for release it will probably be correct!

What about memory manufacturers? (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242823)

Are memory manufacturers following the same practice? Or do hard drive manufacturers and memory manufactures use the same unit of measurement differently in their two products?

Re:What about memory manufacturers? (1)

xlotlu (1395639) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243171)

No, 1GB of RAM means in fact 1GiB, because everything memory-related works in powers of 2.

Apple got it right, STOP MESSING WITH SI UNITS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29242845)

Kilo means 1000, not 1024. One kilometer is 1000 meters, not 1024.

Abusing the SI units for over five decades doesn't make you right, it makes you hypocrites for five decades.

Use the standard terms in the standard way (4, Insightful)

cheebie (459397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242881)

As much as techies complain about people using technical terms inaccurately, we should use the SI prefixes in ways that mean what they mean. The fact that 2^10 is close to 1000 doesn't mean we get to hijack K/M/G to mean 2^10/2^20/2^30.

And mentally we're using them to mean powers of 1000 anyway. How often do you _really_ mean 1024 when you say 1K? Personally, I'm always thinking 1000-ish.

Clarifying the confusion (1)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242885)

The desktop support dude knows what's going on. He knows that GB values, as printed on the box, is always optimistic from the marketers vantage point.

The computer science dude already thinks in hexadecimal, so the casual mention of a number like 12 GB is intrinsically confusing. Is the "12" base-10? Is the "10" in "base-10" decimal? Or is it "base 0F+1"?

Everyone else just gives $127.39 to the GeekSquad weenie for installation. They think in dollars, and want to know how many pictures will fit.

As expected from Apple (0, Flamebait)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 4 years ago | (#29242913)

Apple, kindly takes the confusion away from the average Mac users, who can't be wrap their heads around "complicated" numbers like 1024.

Can't risk being seen as a geek!

Re:As expected from Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243173)

Actually, OS X is one of the geekiest platforms there is; perhaps more geeky than Linux although the geeks who gravitate toward OS X are the type who like to get a lot done rather than spend a lot of time fixing their operating systems. Geeks nonetheless.

1KB = 1024B Dammit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29242937)

... and I don't care what you say.

Also, in before you [xkcd.com] . :)

SI units vs. binary units (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#29242947)

I'm happy Apple is doing this. The use of SI unit names for base 2 values was convenient and gave relatively small errors for low numbers. But up above a gigabyte, and certainly in the terabyte range it's just plain wrong. And certainly nobody who's not a CS person is going to think "Oh, yeah, I divide the base 10 exponent by 3 and multiply by 10 to get the base 2 exponent because this is a piece of computer equipment!".

The binary SI prefixes aren't that hard to use when they really make sense. Computer science should get with the rest of the world in how things are measured and quanitifed and stop doing so with its own special language understood by those well versed in the field unless that language uses words and terms clearly different from the standard ones.

you FAIL It? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29242991)

Fear the ReapEr networking test. gawker At most

Let's see them be consistant. (2, Funny)

eddy (18759) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243013)

I guess their marketing will now talk about the MacBook Pro with 3.75GB memory?

Re:Let's see them be consistant. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243179)

No, it will have 4.3GB of memory.

The binary prefixes will never see wide acceptance (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243041)

Because they sound fucking ridiculous.

Tebi, Zebi, and Pebi? (4, Insightful)

Sububer (887134) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243045)

Seriously? These sound like next generation Valley Girl names, not self-respecting geek prefixes.

When using prefixes that end in 'a' or 'o', I feel macho. Megabyes! Teraflops! Yottapwnage! Yeah, baby!

From my cold, dead hands, Apple.

BTW, who thought of the cutsey name "Apple" anyway? Nice name. Pfft.

Silly names (3, Interesting)

AdamHaun (43173) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243057)

Binary prefixes for binary units (e.g. GiB for 'gibibyte') have been promoted by the International Electrotechnical Commission and endorsed by IEEE and other standards organizations, but to date there's been limited acceptance

Nobody's going to use an annoyingly cutesy word like "gibibyte", which seems just as silly now as it did ten years ago [slashdot.org] . Using the abbreviated prefixes might be a good idea, though.

Just for reference (since some people are freaking out about how much space they're "losing") here's the percentage difference between the SI and binary sizes:

Kilobyte: 2.3%
Megabyte: 4.6%
Gigabyte: 6.9%
Terabyte: 9.1%
Petabyte: 11.2%
Exabyte: 13.3%

So for the foreseeable future your hard drive will be about 10% smaller than advertised. Not a big deal, IMHO (it's not like you're paying for the missing bits), but still worth pointing out.

Google has decreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243133)

People, stop your bickering! Our benevolent masters have kindly provided the answer:

http://www.google.com/search?q=100+gibibytes+in+gigabytes

Does this change anything for Mac developers? (1)

jjmartin540 (883913) | more than 3 years ago | (#29243147)

I know if Apple changed the way the APIs reported storage sizes, I would be pissed, especially for things like memory allocation or disk recovery programs. Please tell me this is just a "Changing the GUI for dumb users/SI nazis" thing......

I love the games that they play. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29243183)

Why don't they just make one byte be 4 bits, as the word byte is 4 characters. That would make a gigabyte an effective 536,870,912 bytes , or 512 megabytes / .5 gigabytes. It's just as arbitrary as effectively shaving 70 megabytes off every gigabyte.

Or maybe they could measure gigabytes in base-twenty, as we have twenty fingers and toes combined.

Bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes can all easily be transparent to the user. Who cares if a gigabyte isn't a nice, clean, base ten number?

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