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Binary and Decimal Byte "Equivalents"

One of the strange coincidences in the computer world is that every tenth power of two is approximately equal to every third power of ten. This has resulted in two different definitions of various size prefixes: "kilobyte" and "megabyte", etc. can mean one of two different things depending on context. This situation can cause confusion, especially in respect to hard disk size measurements, where often, both measurements are used; see here for more details.

The IEEE has proposed a new naming convention for the binary numbers, to eliminate the confusion inherent in having the different binary and decimal numbers use the same names. You can read more about this proposal in detail here. The proposed new naming convention is listed below under the columns "Binary Name" and "Binary Abbr." Of course, right now most people use the decimal names and abbreviations for both the decimal and binary numbers.

Decimal Name

Decimal Abbr.

Decimal Power

Decimal Value

Binary Name

Binary Abbr.

Binary Power

Binary Value

Kilobyte

kB

10^3

1,000

Kibibyte

kiB

2^10

1,024

Megabyte

MB

10^6

1,000,000

Mebibyte

MiB

2^20

1,048,576

Gigabyte

GB

10^9

1,000,000,000

Gibibyte

GiB

2^30

1,073,741,824

Terabyte

TB

10^12

1,000,000,000,000

Tebibyte

TiB

2^40

1,099,511,627,776

Next: Standard Metric (SI) Prefixes, Values and Common Usage


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