John McCann

Terabytes and petabytes

In Technology on March 17, 2006 at 3:18 pm

An interview in USA Today with SanDisk CEO Eli Haran ends with Haran’s 20-year projection of the capacity of memory chips on small cards:

We believe that in 20 years time, we will be able to fit 10 terabytes of information into a card that’s as small as a quarter. Ten terabytes is the amount of memory we have in the human brain. Ten terabytes could fit 5,000 movies. When you have that kind of memory, you could store a human lifetime’s worth of memory into one of these cards. You could implant a device like this in your head to restore memory.

Ten terabytes is 10,000 gigabytes, which is 10,000,000 megabytes … which is a lot of capacity.

Another interesting part of the article is that prices are dropping very rapidly. Today, a memory card costs $0-50 per gigabyte (GB) of memory. With the newer chips that are becoming available, this price will drop to $10 per GB within the next two years.

So, before long we are going to have practically unlimited storage capacity in our hands. And that is only in the memory chip space. By 2026, what will we have in terms of hard drive space? Whatever it is, it will likely be measured in petabytes (a petabyte is 1 million gigabytes). Joseph Mercola gives us a way to think about a petabyte:

The one kind of content that might possibly overflow a petabyte disk is video. In the format used on DVDs, the data rate is about two gigabytes per hour. Thus the petabyte disk will hold some 500,000 hours worth of movies; if you want to watch them all day and all night without a break for popcorn, they will actually fill up your petabyte drive if you have a lifetime of video on it as it will give you 57 years of video.

He also tells us that you could have 50 Library of Congresses on your drive

One researcher indicates that we might have such a drive in five years, and that it will cost less than $1,000.


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