Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

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Which to use as standard unit?

Powers of ten
12
16%
Powers of two
58
75%
Doesn't matter
7
9%
 
Total votes: 77

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Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby HappySmileMan » Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:50 pm UTC

Well basically, there are two units that are now used to measure memory on computers, the Kilobyte (kB), which is now 103, and the Kibibyte (KiB), which is the new name for 210.

The advantage of powers of 2 (1KiB = 210) is of course that since computers on the hardware level deal with binary numbers and powers of 2, it would make sense that the unit should reflect that, it can also be easily changed to hexadecimal, and all the binary operators (AND, OR, XOR etc...) are done using the binary of the number, therefore many kinds of encryption and compression are done using it (well at least they're easier to understand if you know binary and/or hexadecimal).

The advantage of powers of 10 (1kB = 103) is mainly that it is easier to use for arithmetic, and makes it a lot easier to understand for the average person (Tell someone that a KB means 1024 they'll have no idea how it works, but tell them it's 1000 and they'll know it forever). It also fits in better with all other SI units since they all try to be in powers of ten.

SO what do you think should be the "Kilobyte" (AKA the standard used)?

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby evilbeanfiend » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:01 pm UTC

id probably go for powers of 2 given that it maximises useful address space/ minimizes address length
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby TomBot » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:23 pm UTC

We should use the -bi- names. Many things we measure about computers actually are powers of two - memory capacities, page sizes, etc. It would suck to have to say, "oh yeah, i got 2.1blah GB of RAM". That said, using the SI prefixes to mean something other than powers of 10 is evil and must be stopped. Plus it makes grading CS homework a real pain.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Kizyr » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:57 pm UTC

Powers of 2 really should be the standard. When I think in terms of memory, it's always in powers-of-two. When I think in terms of conditional logic, it's always binary. Pretty much, all the reasons given in the original post for powers-of-two are way more important than any powers-of-ten arguments.

I don't mind using SI prefixes, though. Memory usually refers to powers of two, so the fact that 1KM = 1000m, but 1KB = 1024b doesn't really bug me at all, since I can infer which is which based on context. KF
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Dingbats » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:07 pm UTC

Powers of two, obviously, but I will still always refer to them with their SI unit names (kilo-, mega-, etc).

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby TomBot » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:10 pm UTC

Kizyr wrote:I don't mind using SI prefixes, though. Memory usually refers to powers of two, so the fact that 1KM = 1000m, but 1KB = 1024b doesn't really bug me at all, since I can infer which is which based on context. KF


It should bother you, though. This is measurement we're talking about, it ought to be precise. Besides, the context is very nuanced - it's not just "computers use powers of 2". Memory is powers of 2, raw hard disk capacity is powers of 10, formatted capacity is powers of 2, network bandwidth is powers of 10, file sizes are powers of 2, frequencies are powers of 10, etc.

Nitpick: don't mess with the capitalization of m and B. Especially B, because b is often considered to mean bits.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Robin S » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:13 pm UTC

It occurs to me that people to whom it matters usually know the difference already anyway. The addition of -bi- is mostly pedantry which, while admirable in one sense, might actually serve to confuse things further as changing what is effectively a vernacular standard is much harder than changing an official one, and in the interrim period I bet a hell of a lot of people would end up getting confused.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Kizyr » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:10 pm UTC

TomBot wrote:Nitpick: don't mess with the capitalization of m and B. Especially B, because b is often considered to mean bits.

That was definitely unintentional on my part. Mixing 'b' and 'B' is much more significant, on account of bandwidth often being measured in Kb/s instead of KB/s. So we're agreed there.

TomBot wrote:It should bother you, though. This is measurement we're talking about, it ought to be precise. Besides, the context is very nuanced - it's not just "computers use powers of 2". Memory is powers of 2, raw hard disk capacity is powers of 10, formatted capacity is powers of 2, network bandwidth is powers of 10, file sizes are powers of 2, frequencies are powers of 10, etc.p

I see why someone would be bothered, but I'm not. I'm used to having to discern things based on context, so it never bothers me to have to do so. If I'm in a situation where precision is really important, then I'll ask for clarification. Otherwise, it simply doesn't matter to me. KF
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby phlip » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:17 pm UTC

I think that any system that can cause enough confusion to result in marketing a 1.44MB disk which holds 1.44 x 1000 x 1024 bytes needs to be changed.

I'm not sure kilo/kibi is the best way... but maybe it'll grow on me over time.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby EvanED » Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:19 pm UTC

Kizyr wrote:I see why someone would be bothered, but I'm not. I'm used to having to discern things based on context, so it never bothers me to have to do so. If I'm in a situation where precision is really important, then I'll ask for clarification. Otherwise, it simply doesn't matter to me. KF

But the problem is that we're getting to the point where it does make a difference. The difference between a 1 TB drive and a 1 TiB drive is almost 10%. I would consider that significant. I mean, the difference between TB and TiB given the hard drives I have around my apartment is larger than the hard drives of many laptops sold today. Even the difference between 1 GB and 1 GiB is over 7%. Witness suits against HDD manufactures for using powers of 10.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Aluminus » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:29 am UTC

In French, they use the suffix -octet
On packages you'll see iPod 2Go (Gigaoctet)
Quelquechose 256Mo (Megaoctet)

I prefer powers of ten, but really to average Joe, it won't make that much of a difference, so I voted doesn't matter.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Owehn » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:33 am UTC

It seems like -octet is just French for -byte, and so French would have the same drawbacks as English. Does Gigaoctet really mean the same as 1024 Megaoctet, instead of 1000 Megaoctet?
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Delbin » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:41 am UTC

Doesn't matter to me as long as there is a standard. It's bothersome when companies use the bigger numbers to say how much space their hard drives have. Buying an 80gig (insert ass-covering asterisk here) drive and finding that it really only holds 70 or so just isn't right.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Kilogolf » Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:37 am UTC

powers of ten, because bytes are 8 bits, and a bit is the binary thing.

therefore, your whole argument about kilibytes being better is kinda useless.

if we were to measure the bits, then yes, powers of 2, but, because the standard is a byte (8 bits) it's a lot better for it to be powers of 10.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Amnesiasoft » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:10 am UTC

Kilogolf wrote:powers of ten, because bytes are 8 bits, and a bit is the binary thing.

therefore, your whole argument about kilibytes being better is kinda useless.

if we were to measure the bits, then yes, powers of 2, but, because the standard is a byte (8 bits) it's a lot better for it to be powers of 10.

But everything related to digital data storage except hard drive sizes (as marketed), use powers of two. Most people already use the power of two system, so it is what most everyone is familiar with. But this argument is like Metric vs. Imperial. Just because one is more logical doesn't mean the silly people (like us Americans) will switch to it.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby phlip » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:40 am UTC

For RAM size it makes sense to use binary prefixes, since by their very design, most RAM modules will be a power of 2 bits... as TomBot pointed out, it's much easier to say "1GiB" than "1.073ish GB", and more meaningful than "just over 1GB".

For most other uses, it makes less sense... HDD size, bandwidth, that sort of thing, is usually decimal. Ethernet bandwidth, especially... since successive generations have been 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s, 1Gb/s... they could probably make it 1Gib/s instead of 1Gb/s pretty easily, but there's no real reason to do so.

Filesize is the anomalous one for generally being reported with binary prefixes, without a real reason... mostly by convention. Maybe it made sense once, but it's not that necessary now. Though, the convention's there, and it's probably not worth the effort it'd take to change it...

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby photosinensis » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:29 am UTC

Delbin wrote:Doesn't matter to me as long as there is a standard. It's bothersome when companies use the bigger numbers to say how much space their hard drives have. Buying an 80gig (insert ass-covering asterisk here) drive and finding that it really only holds 70 or so just isn't right.


Hard drives are measured in base 10, at least by their manufacturers. It's the OS people who measure disk space in base 2. So while your hard disk manufacturer claims a GB is 10^9 bytes, your OS manufacturer claims that a GB is 2^30 bytes. The latter is a larger figure: 73,741,824 bytes larger, in fact. Thus, on that 80 gig hard drive (claimed by the manufacturer), you're "missing" about 5.8ish "gigabytes" as per the hard drive manufacturer's reckoning. On my MacBook, Disk Utility says I've got a 111.8 GB hard drive in there, but the manufacturer (Toshiba) claims 120 GB.

Memory, however, is different: everybody uses the binary system. This is true on flash cards, too. In short, blame hard drive manufacturers for your confusion. The bastards!

However, there's another factor to take into account: filesystem. My HFS+ (case sensitive, journaled) filesystem takes up about 400(ish) MB on that hard drive.

All that said, as a programmer, it's easier for me to consider base 2, as that's what we deal in. Or, if I absolutely must, base 16 (fewer "digits" is a good thing).
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby b.i.o » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:27 am UTC

I prefer the concept of the power-of-2 names but I think that the -bi- names are harder to say and don't sound as distinct. It's pretty easy to get Kibibyte confused with Gibibyte when you're speaking, and the SI prefixes don't have that problem.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby evilbeanfiend » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:44 am UTC

Dingbats wrote:Powers of two, obviously, but I will still always refer to them with their SI unit names (kilo-, mega-, etc).


oh no i definitely have to go for the iec prefixes kibi-, mebi- e.g. KiB and MiB instead of kB and MB

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby microwaved » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:58 pm UTC

It's all relative, so I don't think it matters all that much so long as the unit of measurement is clearly defined. I just wish we would pick one and stick with it for simplicity sake.

Personally though, I much prefer kilobyte

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Cheese » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:26 pm UTC

Powers of two.

1) Two's prime. I like primes.
2) The downright ignorant (those who wouldn't [look something up/care if it's correct] unless they're in immediate mortal danger - read: noobs) find it confusing.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby d3adf001 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:17 am UTC

umm data is stored in base 2 not 10 so why the hell would you go by anything else?

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Sc4Freak » Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:20 am UTC

photosinensis wrote:
Delbin wrote:Doesn't matter to me as long as there is a standard. It's bothersome when companies use the bigger numbers to say how much space their hard drives have. Buying an 80gig (insert ass-covering asterisk here) drive and finding that it really only holds 70 or so just isn't right.


Hard drives are measured in base 10, at least by their manufacturers. It's the OS people who measure disk space in base 2. So while your hard disk manufacturer claims a GB is 10^9 bytes, your OS manufacturer claims that a GB is 2^30 bytes. The latter is a larger figure: 73,741,824 bytes larger, in fact. Thus, on that 80 gig hard drive (claimed by the manufacturer), you're "missing" about 5.8ish "gigabytes" as per the hard drive manufacturer's reckoning. On my MacBook, Disk Utility says I've got a 111.8 GB hard drive in there, but the manufacturer (Toshiba) claims 120 GB.

Memory, however, is different: everybody uses the binary system. This is true on flash cards, too. In short, blame hard drive manufacturers for your confusion. The bastards!

Well, not really. You shouldn't be blaming the hard drive manufacturers, you should be blaming everyone else. The HDD manufacturers are actually the ones who are right here - 1GB is exactly 1000 MB. The OS is incorrect in reporting GB when it really reports GiB.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Rysto » Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:54 am UTC

The hard drive manufacturers are wrong. Binary prefixes are a longstanding standard in computing -- including hard drive sizes. The hard drive manufacturers only switched after they realized they could save money by going with the powers of 10 instead.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby EvanED » Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:25 pm UTC

Rysto wrote:The hard drive manufacturers are wrong. Binary prefixes are a longstanding standard in computing -- including hard drive sizes. The hard drive manufacturers only switched after they realized they could save money by going with the powers of 10 instead.

It's a stupid tradition though. I think we should stop it.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby wing » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:44 pm UTC

When I need to communicate an exact number, I'll give an exact number of bytes.

When I don't need to communicate an exact number, I'll use base-2 and call it by the "traditional" name. After all, it probably doesn't matter if "Mighty Wings.mp3" is 4.5 megabytes, or 4.5 mibibytes. The margin of error, up to what we consider gigantic by today's standards, is simply too small to care about.

Also, in this space, I'm going to complain a little bit about how stupid it is to sell memory and hard drives and other such things by byte-based capacities. Bytes aren't a fixed size. These marketdroids are selling things with a capacity based on a unit that isn't standardized. I'm somewhat surprised that, in addition to using the base-10 system for naming their capacities, they don't also use 7-bit bytes. After all, it's perfectly legitimate. I don't expect we'll be using the 8-bit byte forever, despite the difficulties in changing it.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby zenten » Sun Dec 16, 2007 4:10 am UTC

Data in powers of two of bytes, network transmission in powers of 10 of bits works just fine.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby tendays » Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:27 am UTC

zenten wrote:Data in powers of two of bytes, network transmission in powers of 10 of bits works just fine.


But network transmission is transmission of data :-)

I would vote powers of 2 for data (including data transmission). The guy who said floppy disks have 1.44 megabytes just made a mistake as he should have said 1.41 megabytes.

I agree it is inconsistent with other dimensions (kilograms, etc) but I got used to it being this way and, as said, it has its advantages for computing, which make it worth it I believe :-)

I think it started being a problem when hard drive manufacturers saw they could make their stuff look bigger than it really is.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Cheese » Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:07 pm UTC

I see 'tradition' cropping up quite a lot. Generally, traditions suck, as they originated from either:

1) someone's need for power - see most heirarchical religions for details, ignoring the current (genuine) belief held by the 'elders' of respective faiths that their work is good and right. Look deeper, and you'll see reasons behind all the little rituals that an early preist might have had;
I've used Christianity as an example here, as I was brought up a Catholic and know most of the things that are done:
  • confessions - a great way for the leader to know who's done what wrong
  • preaching - tell people what to do, what's right and wrong, but to your own ends
  • introduce a fear of 'hell', or some undesirable fate, should said words not be followed to the letter
  • one of the best: get the followers to pay for the living expenses of the leader
Mash these up, leave to ferment for a few hundred years (adding 'true' followers - e.g. saints - to taste), and voila - you have Religion.*

Oh, nearly forgot: 2) someone who really didn't bother to think what they were doing through.


*tl;dr version of the above rant: I hated being Catholic, and spent most of the time in the church thinking of explanations as to why the hell anyone would want to come up with stuff like that. I'm particularly pissed off today, for no particular reason.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby phlip » Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:36 pm UTC

Cheese wrote:Generally, traditions suck, as they originated from either:

Or (3) People started using it out of oversimplification or ignorance, and even though we're aware of the problems now, it's widely considered to be good enough, and not worth the effort of changing... cf conventional current in elec eng. This is the category that the binary units fall into... back in the day, it made things a lot simpler to have 1kB = 1024B... nowadays it's less useful for many things, but the advantages to switching to decimal for eg filesizes is generally seen as not worth the effort.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby zenten » Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:11 am UTC

Cheese wrote:I see 'tradition' cropping up quite a lot. Generally, traditions suck, as they originated from either:

1) someone's need for power - see most heirarchical religions for details, ignoring the current (genuine) belief held by the 'elders' of respective faiths that their work is good and right. Look deeper, and you'll see reasons behind all the little rituals that an early preist might have had;
I've used Christianity as an example here, as I was brought up a Catholic and know most of the things that are done:
  • confessions - a great way for the leader to know who's done what wrong
  • preaching - tell people what to do, what's right and wrong, but to your own ends
  • introduce a fear of 'hell', or some undesirable fate, should said words not be followed to the letter
  • one of the best: get the followers to pay for the living expenses of the leader
Mash these up, leave to ferment for a few hundred years (adding 'true' followers - e.g. saints - to taste), and voila - you have Religion.*

Oh, nearly forgot: 2) someone who really didn't bother to think what they were doing through.


*tl;dr version of the above rant: I hated being Catholic, and spent most of the time in the church thinking of explanations as to why the hell anyone would want to come up with stuff like that. I'm particularly pissed off today, for no particular reason.


Ok, I agree.

We all switch to base 12 and I'll be the first one to say that data should use the same base. Happy?

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Cheese » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:22 pm UTC

Not really. I'm not going to argue/rant today, though, as I quite simply can't be bothered formulating an argument against base 12.

Okay then, here's a half-hearted attempt: Would base 12 make things any more efficient/easier for people to understand (than the current binary system/other current decimal system)? Or were you just being sarcastic, without the appropriate punctuation?

Anyway, my rant wasn't about the binary/denary thing, but the futility of consistently doing something (that's not particularly useful) just because it's traditional. You may wish to note* that I didn't mention any number base in my last post, and even though before it I had professed my support for base 2, the message before this one is intended to be taken in isolation from that, just as a generalised argument against said "tradition".


*but then again, you may not...
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby zenten » Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:00 am UTC

Cheese wrote:Not really. I'm not going to argue/rant today, though, as I quite simply can't be bothered formulating an argument against base 12.

Okay then, here's a half-hearted attempt: Would base 12 make things any more efficient/easier for people to understand (than the current binary system/other current decimal system)? Or were you just being sarcastic, without the appropriate punctuation?

Anyway, my rant wasn't about the binary/denary thing, but the futility of consistently doing something (that's not particularly useful) just because it's traditional. You may wish to note* that I didn't mention any number base in my last post, and even though before it I had professed my support for base 2, the message before this one is intended to be taken in isolation from that, just as a generalised argument against said "tradition".


*but then again, you may not...


Ah, I misunderstood. I thought you were saying we shouldn't use base 2 for recording data storage. I was saying (both sarcastically and honestly oddly enough) that I would be fine with that, as long as we use a sensible base like base 12.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Aluminus » Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:42 am UTC

Base 10 is only a sensible base because (most of us) have ten fingers and ten toes
Base 2 is only sensible because (most) switches have two positions: ON and OFF

What base would a quantum computer use? Base 1.5?
A four-position switch: ON, OFF, MAYBE_ONE_OR_THE_OTHER, and BOTH
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby enk » Wed Dec 19, 2007 2:22 am UTC

Aluminus wrote:Base 10 is only a sensible base because (most of us) have ten fingers and ten toes
Base 2 is only sensible because (most) switches have two positions: ON and OFF


I'd say base 10 is good because that's what most of us are best at reading (and that may have something to do with our digits :wink: )

And base 2 for computer stuff. Well, bits in patterns of powers of 2 has some advantages. But a 10 bit architechture wouldn't be unfeasible, would it?
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Ari » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:02 pm UTC

Base-two, or rather, 2n(10) prefixes, where n is equal to where the prefix comes in the sequence. These "binary SI" prefixes such as kibi and mebi and gibi (and their abbrevriations, KiB, MiB, and GiB) are a much more natural measurement of binary data capacity than the orthodox, base-ten nonbinary SI prefixes. However, for that reason, it's important to use the binary names explicitly so you don't confuse people, and end up thinking that your program requires less of an installation footprint than it actually does.

Ok, I agree.

We all switch to base 12 and I'll be the first one to say that data should use the same base. Happy?


On a personal note, base 12 is a much more natural number for human digits than ten is, but that's a discussion for a new thread. edit: And I see that thread exists. All is well in the world.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby zenten » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:37 pm UTC

Aluminus wrote:Base 10 is only a sensible base because (most of us) have ten fingers and ten toes
Base 2 is only sensible because (most) switches have two positions: ON and OFF

What base would a quantum computer use? Base 1.5?
A four-position switch: ON, OFF, MAYBE_ONE_OR_THE_OTHER, and BOTH


I made a mistake, and I edited it.

qbits would either need to be base 2 or some infinite base.

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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Midnight » Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:14 am UTC

i think even though we're currently using kibibytes.. i mean i guess it wouldn't change, but in an ideal world it'd be powers of ten. Easier to remember. computers could handle it.. i mean, hell, we have qbits already, right? computers handle most eccentric things we throw at them, seeing as, in the end, humans are the ones catching what we throw.
additionally, HDD-makers and your computer can agree on how big your hard drive is.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Anpheus » Wed Dec 26, 2007 5:57 am UTC

HappySmileMan wrote:Well basically, there are two units that are now used to measure memory on computers, the Kilobyte (kB), which is now 103, and the Kibibyte (KiB), which is the new name for 210.

No.

There is exactly one way of measuring memory (RAM) on people's computers: units that believe "kilo" means 210, "mega" means 220, and so on.

The reason there is a confusion between hard drive manufacturers and RAM manufacturers is one of habit. Back in the old days, hard drives were measured in numbers of characters, as in, 5,000,000 characters. Back in the old days, RAM was measured against the address space of a CPU, and so would always lie on a 2x boundary because doing so makes things much, much easier for the CPU and everyone involved.

The new units are silly, because people who know how to refer to such things know the differences. Most people in the US, at least, don't know what a tera, mega or giga is anyway.
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Re: Kilobyte or Kibibyte as standard?

Postby Sc4Freak » Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:17 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:The new units are silly, because people who know how to refer to such things know the differences. Most people in the US, at least, don't know what a tera, mega or giga is anyway.

Most people in the US don't even use metric, so that isn't saying much.


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