OK, so I’m a little oldskool but…

March 5, 2008

…I have been pondering as to WTF `MiB`s and `GiB`s are for a little while now. As in, “download this file – Size: 15 MiB

They keep cropping up – a couple of years ago I’d certainly never seen this unit of measurement.

Well – in case you too had wondered, here’s a likely candidate for the answer;

[Excerpt from http://kerneltrap.org/node/340%5D

” Bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes… and now, mebibytes? When one speaks about a kilobyte referring to computer memory, one refers to 1024 bytes. This is more an “accepted innaccuracy” than anything. Though simple enough at the kilobyte level, as memory sizes increase from kilo to mega to giga and beyond, things get more and more confusing. The recent change is an attempt to move away from this “accepted innaccuracy” towards an official and accurate standard.

Some seem to support this change. Others fear it will only add confusion. What do you think?

Even Eric is not that enthused by this naming standard, but explains, “In the *absence* of a clear consensus, I will follow best practices. Best practice in editing a technical or standards document is to (a) avoid ambiguous usages, seek clarity and precision; and (b) to use, follow and reference international standards.

Alan Cox offers support to this change, “Eric using MiB seems the right thing. Its an ugly but appropriate unit, its at least recommended as a solution by a standards body. We can either redefine SI units (“You cannot change the laws of physics”) or find a better label. What better than a recommended one others use.“.

The standards they refer to are detailed on the the National Institute of Standards and Technology web page title, “Definitions of the SI units: The binary prefixes“. You can find more on this International System of Units (SI) here. “


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