Datastream, Week of 9.6.2010
(The staggering numbers that define your world. Datastream runs once a week.)
Zetta! The digital universe is set to expand 44x in the next ten years, but before it does that, we’re on track to hit 1.2 zettabytes — that’s one million, two hundred thousand petabytes — by the end of the year. A petabyte, if you haven’t been keeping track, is enough to store 13.3 years of high-def video, or 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled to the brim with documents. (Google processes about 20 petabytes of data per day.) Another handy measurement? A zettabyte is the equivalent of 50,000 times the entire contents of all recorded human history, in every language that has ever been spoken!
Welcome to Facebook. Can I see your passport? Facebook recently announced that they have 500 million activeusers. How many people is that? Oh, just the population of the entire European Union.
Take Instruction. The Macintosh was the first commercially-available graphical, mouse-driven computer. When it debuted in 1984 for $2,500, it was also one of the most powerful machines on the market. It was capable of processing 500,000 instructions per second, or a half million instructions per second (1/2 MIPS). The iPad, released in 2010 at $499, has a processor presumed to run at 2,000 MIPS. You could put 4,000 Macintosh machines in a room together to equal the iPad’s processing power: doing so would require the wattage of over 1200 refrigerators!
(I know, I know– this isn’t a great measure of performance, given the greater efficiency of modern instruction-sets: the iPad is probably doing even more number-crunching than we give it credit for.)