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New Power-of-Two Prefixes?

justin++ posted about 15 years ago | from the just-a-proposal dept.

News 289

EngrBohn writes "The August issue of IEEE Spectrum mentions a proposal by the International Electrotechnical Commission to introduce new prefixes for words that indicate powers-of-two (page 18 of the print issue). This would replace kilobytes (kB) with kibibytes (KiB), megabytes (MB) with mebibytes (MiB), gigabytes (gB) with gibibytes (GiB), and so on. The rationale is two-fold. First is to restore the integrity of the SI prefixes to meaning powers-of-ten. Second is to eliminate ambiguity over whether, for example, a megabyte is 10**6 bytes or 2**20 bytes. Think this is a non-issue? I noticed this morning that Iomega's 100MB Zip disks have a 10**8 byte capacity, and Maxtor also considers a megabyte to be 10**6 bytes. "

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Could they choose anything more confusing? (1)

Mur! (19589) | about 15 years ago | (#1755052)

I definately like the idea - especially after the arguement I had with my husband on whether to partition 2000 MB for a 2GB partition, or 2048MB. But 'kibibytes'? 'mebibytes'? 'gibibytes'? Could they have chosen *anything* that would have been more confusing? I suppose I can understand the desire to keep things similar, but for the first few years, lay people are going to think you an idiot - or at least in possession of an odd stutter - if you use these terms to them. It would have been far better to simply use something that had a totally different sound/first letter. Like... I don't know. Snazzybyte. Fluptybyte. Zurzabyte. *Anything*.

And I thought the.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755054)

...The US Government was bored. Sounds kewl though. I just hope that when they make the change that enough people hear about it so I am not the only one who sounds like I have speech problems.

Arrrghh (1)

SloWave (52801) | about 15 years ago | (#1755058)

I'm just getting used to MegaHertz instead of

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755061)

Snuffybytes, snuffybytes, snuffybytes, snuffybytes, snuffybytes, snuffybytes, oh let it be snuffybytes!

A better suggestion. (1)

mrsam (12205) | about 15 years ago | (#1755063)

I have a better idea.

Instead of kilobytes, call them kibobytes. Think James Parry will object?

Gawwwwwd... Looks like these people have too much free time on their hands. Why don't they just spend their free time trying to invent warp drive, or something? Leave this kind of stuff to Jay Leno, or David Letterman.

new names for the decimal versions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755067)

why is it so obvious the binary measures need new names? they are far more universal measures than the decimal ones, so why not come up with new names for them instead! MB = 1024*1024, like it should be.

Accuracy/Pointlessness in language (1)

TheGeek (65841) | about 15 years ago | (#1755068)

Are they going to enforce when I use "that" or "which" too?

Languages change and evolve on their own, and making changes to technical terms that have already made it into common household usage is ridiculous and implausible. Just another waste of time, money and effort. They probably been working on this plan since we had 32 "kibibytes" of RAM.

TheGeek []

Is down, cracked, or just busy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755071)

Non-topic, I know.. just want to know because I can't get to it at the moment.. :(

It just never seemed to matter... (1)

akey (29718) | about 15 years ago | (#1755073)

when I had that old M6502-based Kim-1 with 1 KB of RAM...

Bits instead of bytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755133)

Here is my favorite solution, feel free to start using: use bit as the basic unit of information. kb, Mb, Gb are already in wide use in datacom. The prefixes are as they should be. I have understood that it is widely used in information theory, giving it a solid background, like physics does to other SI-units.

you what ?!?!? (1)

The_Jazzman (45650) | about 15 years ago | (#1755134)

Please somebody tell me that the Teletubbies havn't invaded computer jargon...

More to the point, which inspiring person came up with theses names... kibibytes... OK computer jargon doesn't sound good at the best of times but even so... kibibytes... kiddybites, the new, tasty snack from Haribo...

Why not invent a new word from bytes ? I'm not known for my imagination, but woulnd't something like kilobets or kilobats (going along the lines of B-i-T-s B-y-T-e-s...

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755137)

buffy bytes perhaps ?

Gibs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755139)

All the quake fans can stand up and cheer ... now I can have a 10 Gib hard drive!

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755142)

Its quite easy to remember, if the change the "bi" to "hi".
You know the difference between KiLow and KiHigh.
Of course, code from New Zeeland should be written in KiWi-bytes ;)
BTW. Don Knuth has another sugestion for the nameing on his site at

Re:And I thought the.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755145)

I forgot, the US government is the body to decide on matters concerning the english language.

Too late (1)

amonymous (53279) | about 15 years ago | (#1755148)

after more than 15 years of common usage,
the vocabulary is certainly not going to change...

Just always assume that the capacity is
expressed in billions of bytes when buying
a hard drive. And don't worry that some
company might be at a disadvantage compared
to others because it uses the correct definition
of 'Gb': none of them do.

Knuth on power of 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755151)

Take a look at to see what Don Knuth has to say about this.

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (1)

croe (18536) | about 15 years ago | (#1755154)

I'd like to add that the other side of this is, many people can't figure out the difference between a KiloByte, and a MegaByte let alone a Kilobyte and kibibyte or a MegaByte and a Mebibyte. These new notations will simply confuse the matter more for many many people.

I do understand the methodology, but I'll also say that different names would have been better. I mean they aren't even easy to pronounce...

My two cents worth anyway.

Old News (1)

Ratface (21117) | about 15 years ago | (#1755156)

Not that it really affects the discussion much, but this is news that has been floating around for a long while.

the Rapidly Changing Face of Computing did an article on this ibibytes_A_New_HighTech

Which has a link to the original source 03.htm#Information Technology

Not that I really mind too much, but this dates back to March of this year!

Apart from that, I think the names sound pretty odd - don't you? I agree with Jeff Harrow from RCFOC who says that a Kibibyte sounds like a type of dogfood.

Oh well, like most things of this nature, I guess nobody will really ever use them except to show off their knowledge. (That'll be me then!)

Already in 1998 (1)

bratell (34927) | about 15 years ago | (#1755163)

The prefixes isn't really anything new. This was talked about almost a year ago, even though I don't know if it reached Slashdot and the slashdot community.

Why wouldn't hard drive makers use 10**6 (1)

Wonko (15033) | about 15 years ago | (#1755165)

10**6 is almost 50k(47.someodd) less than 2**20... So on a 1 gig drive they save themselves 47,437k, or almost 50 meg. Doesn't sound like alot these days, but that means we're losing 1 gig on every 20 gig drive we buy...

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (1)

kmj9907 (20499) | about 15 years ago | (#1755167)

I agree with you completely. While I understand what that did and why they did it, kibibyte just sounds so stupid! Just say it out loud. They can come up with something that has as much meaning but doesn't make you feel like a 2nd grader when you say it. Could just call it Kbytes or kibyes or something. The whole *bibytes thing's gotta go.

The only reason I keep my ms-dos partition is so I can mount it like the b*tch it is.

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755171)

I think they should keep the first letter as a clue to the real size of the number.. We're just changing the exponential base, not the whole numbering system.. And the two bases result in relatively close values for the numbers referred to by the names they're looking to change (now there's an awkward sentence). But get rid of that b. Kibibytes? Kibi's and bits and bits and bits... Lime

Re:Accuracy/Pointlessness in language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755173)

Very true. Put in a different way, the language "users" will decide which of these two meanings is the right one. And of course hardware vendors will continue to abuse it as long as there is no consensus. Personally I thought the consensus was already in favor of the binary system, but I guess I was wrong.

GiB and MiB (1)

Pedro Picasso (1727) | about 15 years ago | (#1755175)

Let's go ahead and point out the obvious.

This whole thing is a plot perpetrated by the "MiB" led by an attractive Will Smith look-alike. The plot is to "gib" people they think are too smart.

hmmm...noisy cricket as a Quake III weapon. Interesting.

This is really stupid (1)

itchyfish (20104) | about 15 years ago | (#1755177)

Why on earth would anyone consider this? This is a function of the engineering community being driven by corporate interests. Why would anyone need some new definition? Not to mention ones with ridiculous names. A megabyte is already defined, it's just that certain companies purposely misinterpret it to their advantage.
Mega = 10^6
Byte=8 bits
MegaByte= 8E6 Bits
wow! that was difficult............

Tongue troops (1)

geophile (16995) | about 15 years ago | (#1755178)

The names were so dumb, I reread the posting carefully with my joke detectors on high alert. I finally concluded it was serious. Reminds me of the "tongue troops" in France and Quebec, protecting the purity of their mother tongue by discouraging certain words (e.g. "weekend") that invaded from another language.

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (1)

CormacJ (64984) | about 15 years ago | (#1755180)

I agree... I prefer the large and small notation. It would be hard to express this over a voice medium (eg telephone). Phonetically its hard to make out the difference between the two.

Re:Accuracy/Pointlessness in language (1)

Draconian (70486) | about 15 years ago | (#1755183)

The consensus is for binary notation, except for hard disk manufacturers. They insists on using decimal rather than power-2 notation because it makes the hard disk sound bigger : 4 GB (decimal) sounds better than 3.7 GB (power-2). All the confusion is just because of marketing gurus trying to make their product look good. Thank god the memory chip companies don't follow this approach to advertising.

Not so fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755185)

These prefixes are part of the universally accepted SI standard. Ever heard of kilometer or kilogram?

They actually have their roots in the ancient greek language, e.g. the prefix 'kilo' has been derived from the greek word 'chilioi' denoting the number 1000 (I'm not sure if the transliteration is correct though).

There's not a snowball's chance in hell that these prefixes will change anytime soon.

Misc. ramblings (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 15 years ago | (#1755187)

Firstly, Knuth has recently proposed a solution to this problem, where 'kilobyte' = 10 ** 3 bytes, and 'large kilobyte' = 2**10 bytes: see 'What is a kilobyte?' at his news page [] .

Secondly, the main reason hard disk manufacturers prefer the smaller decimal units is that it makes their disks sound bigger.

Thirdly, I believe that there is a difference in captialization for 'kilobyte' depending on which kind you mean. 1 kB = 1000 bytes, but 1 KB = 1024 bytes. (Don't forget also that the abbreviation for 'byte' is 'B'; lowercase 'b' is for 'bit'.)

Re:you what ?!?!? (1)

mlosh (18885) | about 15 years ago | (#1755189)

kiddybytes for ~1,000.
Manlybytes for ~1000,000!
Giantbytes for ~1,000,000,000!!

OK, enough silliness.

Re:Arrrghh - no prob (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 15 years ago | (#1755190)

From what I understand - frequencies, being measured in powers of 10, will still be Kilo-cycles, Mega, Giga, etc. Only the powers of 2 will get new monikers. Just so's nobody will think 1 Kilocycle = 1024 cps. But I may be hallucinating again.


Geeks in black? (1)

Gelf (57371) | about 15 years ago | (#1755192)

Maybe its just me, but I saw KiB, MiB and GiB and thought 'Kids in Black', 'Men in Black' and 'Geeks in Black' .. a nice analogy for us .. getting smarter (storage capacity?) increased your status ..


Re:Accuracy/Pointlessness in language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755195)

I'd rather buy a computer with a full 131 MB than a lousy 128 MB, would you? ;)

Nooooooooooooo not *this*! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755196)

I definately like the idea - especially after the arguement I had with my husband on whether to partition 2000 MB for a 2GB partition, or 2048MB. But 'kibibytes'? 'mebibytes'? 'gibibytes'? Could they have chosen *anything* that would have been more confusing?

I assure you, there is not a single Finn in existence who could pronounce "gibi" so clearly that no-one would confuse it with "kibi"... keeping k & g (and b & p) distinct is hard enough for us as it is, we sure as hell don't need this! ]:-O

kibi gipi kipi gibi kipi kibi gibi gipi kipi kibi -- NYAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGHHHHH!!!

(This is actually my first post to Slashdot ever - couldn't have gone to better use. ;)

it... (1)

Gumpu (16052) | about 15 years ago | (#1755197)

it mebi bytes or it might be somthing else :)

Pictures? (1)

mischief (6270) | about 15 years ago | (#1755199)

Are there any pictures of the cluster available?


Forget binary, stick with base-10 for byte counts! (1)

dschuetz (10924) | about 15 years ago | (#1755203)

The problem isn't the words, it's how the numbers change drastically when you apply the suffix.

Yesterday I was copying images from a Linux box to NT for a CD, and was concerned that the files hadn't copied. "ls" showed something like "613,123,456" bytes, while the detail list in Explorer said "598 MB" and the status-bar said "584,720 KB". So, if I look at the most significant digits (the first check to see if the file's copied), I see either 613, 598, or 584, depending on where I look. Now tell me that any "normal" user is going to understand that distinction!

In a base-10 system, however, 613,123,456 B ~= 613,124 kB ~= 613 mB, so the numbers at least *look* similar.

Is there any reason we really need to do things in binary for this? I mean, you and I don't really give a damn that a disk contains exactly N multiples of a 10-bit word of bytes, we care how many bytes total are on it. And, in a decimal society, we use powers of 10 to see that.

Maybe we could stick with capital K for base-10, and lowercase k for base-2 (or reverse, I don't remember the "official" case for base-10 units). Kind of like how 'b' means bits or bytes, depending. Let's just make it clear, eh?

The monitor manufacturers are finally getting with the program for visible area measurements, maybe the same thing could happen here ("A 2.5gB drive (2.5 billion bytes)" or "2.6 GB (2.684 billion bytes)").

Re:This is really stupid (1)

Saint Nobody (21391) | about 15 years ago | (#1755204)

8E6 Bits == 262144 Bits == 32768 Bytes != 1 Megabyte

If you think that's a Megabyte, you're obviously on crack. And we do need a new definition due to the ambiguity of the term "megabyte," as well as all the other SI prefixes attached to "byte."

1 Megabyte == 1048576 Bytes == 8388608 Bits
1 Megabyte == 1000000 Bytes == 8000000 Bits.

This is a useful step toward clearing up the amiguity, although the names are somewhat odd. Their derrivation is clear though.

Kibibyte? That's one letter from... (3)

Masem (1171) | about 15 years ago | (#1755206)

Anyone else read that as "Kibobyte"? We really
want a computer term that closely related to
Kibo?? ;-)

Mebibyte vs. "cracker" (1)

Surazal (729) | about 15 years ago | (#1755207)

Unfortunately, I think that these new terms will have as much success in gaining widespread success as the term "cracker" versus "hacker" Magabyte and gigabyte are just far too entrenched.

This isn't to say that this isn't a good idea. But good luck in transforming the mutilating power of the English language. :^)

Umm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755208)

The bit *IS* the basic unit of information.. Look up planks constant.

Yeah - just like the metric system in the US of A (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 15 years ago | (#1755209)

My Buick gets 4 cords per the furlong and that's the way I like it - Abraham Simpson


Re:This is really stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755210)

Oh really? So my computer only has 128000000 bytes of memory? and when I allocate 1024 bytes I should say I'm using "a kilobyte plus 24 bytes"? I don't think so.

Hey Hey Hey.. Its Faaaaat Albert! (1)

Bowie J. Poag (16898) | about 15 years ago | (#1755211)

Apparently the new specification was outlined by Mushmouth from the Fat Albert cartoon. No thanks.. I'll pass on this one.


Bowie J. Poag

Excellent point! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755212)

Thirdly, I believe that there is a difference in captialization for 'kilobyte' depending on which kind you mean. 1 kB = 1000 bytes, but 1 KB = 1024 bytes.

I hadn't thought of that before. This de-escalates the matter to some extend. But... how do you pronounce the difference?

disk vs. the rest of the world (1)

petrov (7314) | about 15 years ago | (#1755213)

It's only the hard disk makers (and other permanent storage types like Iomega) that consider a megabyte to be 10^6 bytes. Everything else is with respect to base 2. 10 megabit Ethernet refers to 2^20 bits (not bytes), 128 MB of RAM would be 128 * 2^20 bytes, etc., etc. It's only the hard disk makers who hit on this years ago as a marketing gag to make their disks look a little bit bigger. it's really inane of them considering the rest of the computer world uses base 2 for everything.


Re:new names for the decimal versions? (1)

Hanno (11981) | about 15 years ago | (#1755214)

Just because the Americans don't use metric/decimal measures, it doesn't mean that the rest of the world has to change the naming of their measuring system.

Not a chance (1)

Greg W. (15623) | about 15 years ago | (#1755215)

This will never work. The USA couldn't even successfully adopt the metric system! (Carter tried in the 70s. It failed miserably.)

Manufacturers use what sounds best (1)

Hanno (11981) | about 15 years ago | (#1755216)

Manufacturers always use the measuring system that sounds best. Because of this, hard disks have been measured in "metric gigas" since a lot of years now.

Anyone noticed the new df? (2)

BadlandZ (1725) | about 15 years ago | (#1755217)

-h, --human-readable == print sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K 234M 2G)

-H, --si == likewise, but use powers of 1000 not 1024

GNU fileutils 4.0, November 1998

Well, in Linux anyhow, I notice FreeBSD uses 4th Berkeley Distribution, May 8, 1995, and my IRIX boxes are totally out of date, I can't tell what OSF1 is using, but it doesn't support -h or -H either.

Re:Umm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755218)

So why bother using bytes? Is it more difficult to have a, say, 80 Gb(it) harddisk than 10GB(yte) one? Datacom talks only about Mb/s, MB/s is just too complicated. My thesis: bytes are history, everything should be expressed in bits.

Who Cares? (1)

Etriaph (16235) | about 15 years ago | (#1755219)

I don't really care what other people call the space on my hard drive, as long as I get what I paid for. I bought a 2.1 gig drive with my computer, and two OS's say it's 1.8. I'm sorry, I don't have that much swap space. :)

What this would mean for windows...and star wars.. (1)

IIH (33751) | about 15 years ago | (#1755220)

Imagine calling the new OS "Windows 2kibi"
(Could be more accurate, as may not be fully released till 2048 :)


0,1024,0 is a Star Wars Character (Oh-b- one-ki- no-b)


Hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755221)

Interesting suggestion, however, totally crappy choice of prefixes. Disgusting. You'll never catch me saying that crap (I hope.....).

A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755222)

A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling by Mark Twain For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Re:you what ?!?!? (1)

dirty (13560) | about 15 years ago | (#1755223)

Amusingly my place of employment (Bell Atlantic Data Solutions Group) recently had their "Net Generation Day" (take your kids to work day) in which they had various names for the different age groups. The kilobytes were the young kids like under 6. Megabytes where under 12. Gigabytes were the left overs. Your comment about "kiddybytes" reminded me of this.

Re:Yeah - just like the metric system in the US of (1)

generic-man (33649) | about 15 years ago | (#1755224)

No, no, no! It's:

"My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!" -- Abraham Simpson

Look it up.

Pander to clueless users? (1)

kovacsp (113) | about 15 years ago | (#1755225)

Yes we all agree that the current system is not perfect, and I'm sure most of us get confused when we see our drive size listed in kilobytes. (I know I just estimate by powers of 10). However, although we may live in a decimal society, the computer does not.

If we change the meaning of kB on a disk, then why not do the same for memory? Is 1 MB of memory 1000 kB, or is 1GB = 1000MB? Of course not. The numbers are usually small enough that we can figure that out, but with your system, we'd have to change everything to avoid confusion. Now, how big is an int or a char? Well heck, I just don't remember.

While I agree that they could have picked better names, I agree that the change needs to be made. Things in computers are measured in powers of 2 not powers of 10. Get over it.

MiB? (1)

Patman (32745) | about 15 years ago | (#1755226)

Everybody Sing Along....

Here comes the mibibyte...
Too much to remember..
The good guys dress in black, remember that
In case we ever face-to-face in a deathmatch
The prefix MiB means 10 ** (2*#)

Etc, etc...fill in the blanks yourself. :-)

The Great Thing About Standards... (1)

Dunx (23729) | about 15 years ago | (#1755227)

This reminds of the European v American billion argument: the European billion just got swamped and hardly gets used any more.

For the uninitiated, a European billion is a million million (10^12), a European trillion is 10^18, and so on. The mere fact that I don't have to explain the US system shows how pervasive it is.

This is one reason why the SI units and prefixes are important - they are well-defined, where as words like 'billion' can mean anything. I think I would probably agree with what this group is trying to do if wasn't so stupidly late.

Personally, I'd be quite happy with billions, pints and gallons if they actually meant the same thing everywhere, but they don't.

Your suggestion is down the toilet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755228)

In the Boy Scouts, KYBO means "keep your bowels open". So what do "Kibobytes" mean?

Re:It just never seemed to matter... (1)

mtm (10808) | about 15 years ago | (#1755229)

If you had had 1000 bytes instead of 1024 bytes, you might not have been able to run Peter Jenning's (no, not the same guy) really cool chess program for the KIM. He actually used the memory in the 6530 PIAs because he was so tight for memory.


Mmm...gibibytes (1)

DanaL (66515) | about 15 years ago | (#1755230)

I think I buy that brand of food for my cat! However, she's starting to get a little chubby, so I think I'm going to switch to kibibytes...they're lower in fat I hear.

These IEC guys have too much free time... (1)

SvnLyrBrto (62138) | about 15 years ago | (#1755231)

Cmon, really... I certianly hope these guys aren't being PAYED to sit around and come up with goofy ideas like this.

Just try to say kibobyte or mebibyte aloud.

Do we really need people whose function is to sit around coming up with pseuso-profound but completely useless ideas?

How hard is it to grasp the fact that 1K == 1024 bytes?

Hell, I understood this when I was six and it was a big deal to have 48K in my dad's Apple ][, and a whole megabyte (1024 kilobytes, also a no-brainer) would have bankrupted my family!!!

Pander to clueless users? Relate to common sense! (1)

dschuetz (10924) | about 15 years ago | (#1755232)

> If we change the meaning of kB on a disk,
> then why not do the same for memory?

why not? what does it harm? All we're changing is how things are displayed to the user, to make it actually *make sense*. However, I do agree that memory chip boundaries actually are on binary breaks, so it might make more sense there.

Of course, by my suggestion, you *can* do both. Memory is "32MB" while a Zip disk could be 100 mB, to distinguish a "true" binary-based "mega" from a decimal-based one. The key here is to use whatever system makes the most sense. In specifying memory size, maybe binary makes sense. In displaying a file size while showing only the most significant digits, decimal makes more sense.

> Things in computers are measured in powers
> of 2 not powers of 10. Get over it.

Are they? Where do you actually "measure" anything on a computer, other than in an end-user display? If I declare an array to have 1k of elements, I don't say "int foo(1k)" I say "int foo(1024)" (or something, been a while for me. :-) )

Re:Why wouldn't hard drive makers use 10**6 (1)

dirty (13560) | about 15 years ago | (#1755233)

1.374Gb actually...

Re:Arrrghh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755234)

> I'm just getting used to MegaHertz inst > Megacycles Dont you mean Megacycles per second };)

maybe byte (1)

jilles (20976) | about 15 years ago | (#1755235)

mebibyte pronounces like maybe byte


But seriously, why increase the number of obscure acronyms. I mean computers are already confusing enough normal people.

Re:you what ?!?!? (1)

BalloonMan (64687) | about 15 years ago | (#1755236)

Kibbles & Bits, anyone?

Re:Arrrghh, oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755237)

> I'm just getting used to MegaHertz instead of
> Megacycles

Dont you mean Megacycles per second };)

This new software was tested really thoroughly wasn`t it ;)

Re:This is really stupid (1)

dirty (13560) | about 15 years ago | (#1755238)

Uhm...your definition of Mega as being 10^6 (I know this is true outside of computers) *IS* the misinterpetation that companies use that you refer to. mega = 2^20 or 1048576 or *roughly* 1,000,000. Since defining mega as 10^6 instead of 2^20 gives a smaller number, hard drive companies use 10^6 to inflate the size of their drives. I really don't see any of this as a problem as long as you keep in mind that your 6gig isn't really 6Gb.

Re:Excellent point! (1)

dschuetz (10924) | about 15 years ago | (#1755239)

Thirdly, I believe that there is a difference in captialization for 'kilobyte' depending on which kind you mean. 1 kB = 1000 bytes, but 1 KB = 1024 bytes.

I hadn't thought of that before. This de-escalates the matter to some extend. But... how do you pronounce the difference?

I talk about why this really makes a difference elsewhere here (Forget binary, stick with base-10 for byte counts!), and came up with the same idea (lowercase k for "true" kilo, uppercase for "binary" or "large" kilo). How do you pronounce the difference? Dunno. Maybe just "kilo" vs "K" or "megabytes" vs "MB".

Personally, I'm more concerned with visual display--that's where it's been an issue with me. :-)

Sounds like baby talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755240)

goo goo gaa gaa mebibyte

Help Help! I'm Bein' Oppressed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755241)

Hey! I submitted this four months ago. I suppose you have to be one of the Illumanati to get posted on /. Anonymous Kevin -------------------------------------------------- From my outbox: In the April 1999 issue of InTech magazine (for the Factory Automation crowd), the following article caught my eye. I've included the complete blurb below. I don't know about you, but it sounds pretty stupid to me. ================================================== ======= Goodbye kilo, mega, and giga; hello kibi, mebi, and gibi The International Electrotechnical Commission, which writes international standards for electronic technologies, will adopt new prefixes to accurately express the values of quantities used in information technology. Gone are kilo mega, and giga bytes. In (with input from the National Institute of Standards and Technology), are kibi (Ki), mebi (Mi), gibi (Gi), tebi (Ti), pebi (Pi), and exbi (Ei) to represent exponentially increasing binary multiples. A kibibyte, therefore, equals 2 to the 10th power, ro 1,024 bytes. Likewise, a mebibyte equals 2 to the 20th power, or 1,048,576 bytes. The new prefixes will increase precision in expressing electronic information. The discrepancy stems from the need to write electronic information in binary code, using only two digits, ones and zeros, while the metric system is based on 10 digits. To describe large numbers of bytes, programmers used the closest approximate metric prefixes available at the time. ------------------------------------------------

8E6 (1)

S.Herring (23406) | about 15 years ago | (#1755243)

8E6 Bits == 8 * 10^6 Bits == 8000000 Bits != 262144 Bits

Though you're right in the rest, Megabyte SHOULD mean 1000000 bytes

Definitions of other words may change, but prefixes used to indicate multipliers for standardized units should not, the computer industry is an extreme minority in this case.

Re:The Great Thing About Standards... (1)

jilles (20976) | about 15 years ago | (#1755245)

except perhaps outside the us
here in holland (and the rest of europe and probably the rest of the world) we use the word miljard (i guess the english spelling would be milliard) to indicate 10**9. A billion is a factor 1000 more in europe than in the US (i.e. 10**12).
It's really simple:
10**6 = million
10**9 = milliard
10**12 = billion
10**12 = billiard
10**15 = trillion
10**18 = trilliard

Notice the system?

I guess the stupid cowboys who colonized the US had no use for numbers higher than the amount of fingers they had (i.e. 10**1). Duhhhh, what comes after 999.999.999?? Must be billion. MORRONS

Stoopid (1)

Wolfrider (856) | about 15 years ago | (#1755246)

Kiwibytes = K from NZ Merrybytes = Happy MB Lunabytes = Moonie TB All In Dew Time

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (1)

sklib (26440) | about 15 years ago | (#1755254)

I hate to say this, but I don't think that this is a real problem that you're having. Arguing over 50 megs seems kind of silly these days. In any case, I think that this whole notation thing is rather silly. I'm quite used to reading 100MB on a drive and seeing not 2*whatever bytes. YOu know, I just don't think it's worth changing notation for. BEsides, think of all the old programs that people still use that would use the old notation instead of the new -- it would be utter chaos, much worse than right now. I'm completely against the change 'cause I'm smart enough to figure out that some places use 2^10 and others use 10^2 and not be flustered.

Re:Stoopid (1)

Wolfrider (856) | about 15 years ago | (#1755255)

Kiwibytes = K from NZ
Merrybytes = Happy MB
Lunabytes = Moonie TB

All In Dew Time

( /. 8 my formatting )

MB or MBytes... (1) (6530) | about 15 years ago | (#1755256)

okay this has been an unwritten standard for years. storage companies want to make their crap seem like it holds more right? so we/they use MB which is 10^6 bytes rather than MBytes or MegaBytes which is 2^20 or 1024*1024 bytes... same thing goes with KB and KBytes... the former being pronounced kay-bees this is also the norm in announcing throughput rates, at least in storage... this is the first question people ask during computer architecture and other comp eng. tests: "how many bytes in a KiloByte?" and usually the prof didn't even think about it. so they say "just tell us your assumptions." Usually they had used 10^3 bytes in a KiloByte and their numbers come out round that way... even though it is technically incorrect...depending on if you spell it "KB" or "Kbyte"

How gross (1)

ceeam (39911) | about 15 years ago | (#1755257)

Ahem. In Russian (and probably other slavic languages) 'ebi' would mean 'f@ck' (sorry).

Why don't people use hexadecimal in daily life ;-)

I sense a poll question! (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 15 years ago | (#1755258)

Possible poll question: is megabyte 10**6 or 2**20?

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755259)

It seems more likely that Sailor Moon has invaded the jargon...

Chibi-bytes, anyone?

(hehehe... okay, no one's going to get that, but sometimes you gotta do the jokes just for yourself... forgive me, I watched 15 episodes of Sailor Moon last night!)

Googleflips! (0)

mholve (1101) | about 15 years ago | (#1755261)

Now THAT is a lot of power!

Re:Yeah - just like the metric system in the US of (1)

javac (21689) | about 15 years ago | (#1755262)

Yeah, well my car will do 35,000 furlongs/fortnight. Deal with that.


mea culpa (1)

jilles (20976) | about 15 years ago | (#1755265)

That means excuse me for the stupid error
in my little list :))

Re:This is really stupid (1)

S.Herring (23406) | about 15 years ago | (#1755266)

Mega IS 10^6, that is it's definition, and should ALWAYS be it's definition.

kilometer = 10^3 meters
kilogram = 10^3 grams
so kilobyte should be 10^3 bytes
because that is what kilo MEANS, it cant have two definitions.

the use of kilobyte to mean 1024 bytes is incorect, regardless of how common it is in our little insignificant corner of the number using universe.

I think that now is the right time to change, before the usage becomes so prevalent as to cause confusion in other areas.

They must thing computer are toys! (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 15 years ago | (#1755274)

Sounds like that the guys who were thinking about this must have been watching the Care Bears or something:

Kibibyte - Kidie Byte?

One thing they are better off doing is creating an IEEE standard to what the current units mean in the computer industry and then let everyone know about it. Though I do understand where they are coming from.

Re:8E6 (1)

Zugok (17194) | about 15 years ago | (#1755275)

hey I always thought that an American billion was 'a million million', compared to the British billion as 'a thousand million' Myth or fact? If fact, then I am afraid Maxtor and other HDD companies are ripping us off more than the 73 MB per so called GB, and Bill Gates is really really rich.

Re:The Great Thing About Standards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755276)

I just thought I'd be an ass and point out the obvious irony of somebody calling everybody in my country a "MORRON" [sic] when it is spelled MORON. Who's the moron now?

I thought... (1)

PigleT (28894) | about 15 years ago | (#1755277)

...that when it came to capacity, 1 Kb was 1024 bytes, but 1Mb was 1024 x 1000 bytes, so 1M = 1000K...

Perhaps a more worthy poll question would be "do you count off the sizes in `ls -l` in 3s or 2s?" ;8]


Re:Bits instead of bytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1755278)

In information theory we have the unit "BIT", but it has nothing to do with the binary bit in computers. In my information theory textbook the author specifically warns you about this wrong association between the two units. Unfortunately, even some CS professors do not seem to know the difference.

Re:Could they choose anything more confusing? (1)

SMT (29288) | about 15 years ago | (#1755279)

I would assume that the "bi" in the new metric denotes base 2. So the new names will only really make sense to anyone whose taken courses in low level computer stuff. They still sound silly tho.


Megabork (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1755281)

New measurement: the Megabork. Measures stupidity in committees by the sum of their IQs.

Why must committees break perfectly good, working standards? Computers use zero-based counting are usually binary - which means byte-boundaries occur in powers of two. If the average idi^H^H^Hperson can't understand this simple fact, Steve Jobs would love to sell them their next computer.

I think God's way of seeking vengance is to put everybody on a committee...


Finally! (1)

The Weaver (64035) | about 15 years ago | (#1755283)

I am relieved to finally hear that people have noticed this. It came out years ago but as with all paradigm shifts in notation, it takes quite a while to accept it. I, for one, will be much happier when all of these hard drive companies can't exploit this logical loophole when selling drives.

Long Live the Gibibyte!

Maybebytes? (3)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1755284)

Maybebytes: It could be a byte. Then again, it might not.

Gibytes: How many bodies are on the floor after you get done playing Quake.

Kilibytes: What you call somebody who has contributed to the Gibytes of another player.


Keep Your Bytes Open (1)

FreeUser (11483) | about 15 years ago | (#1755286)

What the FBI, SS, NSA, etc. keep telling us:

Keep our bytes open (to their prying eyes).

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