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Standard Metric (SI) Prefixes, Values and Common Usage

There are many different size prefixes that are used to denote large and small numbers. The standard prefixes, from one trillion to one trillionth, are denoted below, along with some of the common places in the computer world where you will see them used:

Name

Abbr.

Decimal Power

Factor

Common Usage

tera

T

10^12

1,000,000,000,000

large data warehouses (TB)

giga

G

10^9

1,000,000,000

mass storage (GB), CPU speed (GHz)

mega

M

10^6

1,000,000

storage (MB), memory (MB), CPU speed (MHz), others

kilo

K

10^3

1,000

memory (KB), communication speed (KB/sec), others

milli

m

10^-3

0.001

drive access speed (ms)

micro

(Greek "mu")

10^-6

0.000001

various circuit speeds (us)

nano

n

10^-9

0.000000001

memory speed (ns), CPU cycle length (ns), capacitors (nF)

pico

p

10^-12

0.000000000001

capacitors (pF)

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