Meeting the Lumabyte

“In the next 12 months there will be a zettabyte of information on the Internet.” – Dr. James Baty, VP and chief technology officer (CTO) of Sun Microsystems.

A zettabyte is the equivalent of 1 billion terabytes. Just a few years ago, it cost my clients millions of dollars to buy and implement a terabyte of data storage. The disk drives could fill a room. You can now buy a terabyte of data storage for $100 and the single drive is about the size of a typical hard cover book.

How much has the world changed? We have five terabytes of data storage on our overland expedition vehicle.

What’s driving the explosion in online data? In large part, social networking such as MySpace and Facebook.

  • Facebook users have uploaded more than 15 billion photos to date, making it the biggest photo-sharing site on the web.
  • For each uploaded photo, Facebook generates and stores four images of different sizes, which translates into a total of 60 billion images and 1.5 petabytes of storage.
  • Facebook adds 220 million new photos per week or roughly 25 terabytes of additional storage.

Where does a zettabyte fit into the hierarchy of data sizes?

  1. Bit=0 or 1
  2. Nibble=4 Bits
  3. Byte=8 Bits
  4. Kilobyte=1024 Bytes
  5. Megabyte=1024 Kilobytes
  6. Gigabyte=1024 Megabytes
  7. Terabyte=1024 Gigabytes
  8. Petabyte=1024 Terabytes
  9. Exabyte=1024 Petabytes
  10. Zettabyte=1024 Exabytes
  11. Yottabyte=1024 Zettabytes
  12. Xonabyte=1024 Yottabytes
  13. Wekabyte=1024 Xonabytes
  14. Yundabyte=1024 Wekabytes
  15. Udabyte=1024 Yundabytes
  16. Tredabyte=1024 Udabytes
  17. Sortabyte=1024 Tredabytes
  18. Rintabyte=1024 Sortabytes
  19. Quexabyte=1024 Rintabytes
  20. Peptabyte=1024 Quexabytes
  21. Ochabyte=1024 Peptabytes
  22. Nenabyte=1024 Ochabytes
  23. Mingabyte=1024 Nenabytes
  24. Lumabyte=1024 Mingabytes

Note that the looming zettabyte is not even halfway down the scale.

Also note that the world’s rate of data production and proliferation continues to accelerate, currently driven by digital high definition television data and to a lesser extent, digital photography. Currently, demand for data storage is doubling every 18 to 24 months. Within five years, the storage industry expects to achieve a “yottabyte year,” meaning the sales and delivery of one yottabyte of storage within one year. Note that the “yottabyte year” is not the total amount of data storage available, the yottabyte in the “yottabyte year” is the incremental additional amount of data storage that will be produced, sold and delivered in one single year.

The large per-unit of storage scale producers of data, such as HD video, are enough of a challenge. Next comes the flood of micro-per-unit of storage devices that will, as a whole, produce an even larger aggregate amount of data to be stored, exchanged, delivered and analyzed. The micro-per-unit device data tsunami will originate in the “chipping” of nearly every aspect of existence, from children and pets to the full range of inanimate devices that fill our world (watches, phones, appliances, cars, pallets, shipping containers, prescription bottles, food, etc.). Even though a tiny chip set producing time-stamped geospacial and status data may only be delivering a few bytes of data every second / minute / hour / day / week / month or year, those few bytes, when multiplied by essentially our civiliations’ entire inventory of animate life forms and inanimate  objects will push us out that scale of bizarrely named data unit sizes very quickly.

We will be meeting the Lumabyte a lot sooner than we think.



  • One yottabyte = 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes — 10248, or 280
  • No term larger than yottabyte has been officially endorsed by any industry or standards group.
  • The list of names used in this message are actually the decimal names not the binary names, but the decimal names tend to be utilized for common, non scientific, discussion of storage unit sizes.



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