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The Internet Hardware Technology

World's Servers Process 9.57ZB of Data a Year 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-many-gigaquads-is-that dept.
CWmike writes "Three years ago, the world's 27 million business servers processed 9.57 zettabytes, or 9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of information. Researchers at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and the San Diego Supercomputer Center estimate that the total is equivalent to a 5.6-billion-mile-high stack of books stretching from Earth to Neptune and back to Earth, repeated about 20 times. By 2024, business servers worldwide will annually process the digital equivalent of a stack of books extending more than 4.37 light-years to Alpha Centauri, the scientists say. The report, titled 'How Much Information?: 2010 Report on Enterprise Server Information,' (PDF) was released at the SNW conference last month."
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World's Servers Process 9.57ZB of Data a Year

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  • Does this count Sony?

    • by JavaBear (9872)

      Sony don't process, they just prosecute, at least when they don't leak data like a sieve, and then prosecute others for their own mistakes.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:21PM (#36075558) Homepage

    ...involved "v1agra" and fake Rolex watches?

    • by tom17 (659054)

      That 'pile of books' would get you to Uranus.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by feedayeen (1322473)

        That 'pile of books' would get you to Uranus.

        That's good. If each pill can 'double your penis', I'd only take me 46 or so go get there*

        *Citation: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - 1737

  • by beowulfcluster (603942) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:21PM (#36075570)
    How many libraries of Congress is one Neptune height stack?
  • libraries of congress per pencil sharpener?
  • At what point in their respective orbits? The distance from Earth to Neptune varies by about three hundred million kilometers depending on what time of year.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This would cause a variance of only 5%, which is insignificant.

      • by tom17 (659054)

        I'll just let the business know that this 5% downtime is insignificant. It's only 8.4 hours downtime a week guys, come on!

    • by berashith (222128)

      we can just place copies of flatland or war and peace in the stack to cover the variations.

  • by kipsate (314423)
    equivalent to a 5.6-billion-mile-high stack of books stretching from Earth to Neptune and back to Earth

    Glad to see we finally got rid of that silly "library of congress" unit.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      Of course not, silly. The Library of Congress is a measure of volume, not length.

      Sigh, what do they teach people nowadays.

  • I'm getting a little tired of science stories dumbing down things to "piles of books", "libaries of congress" etc... This site's is news for nerds, not news for Joe Sixpack.
    • Have one of these, instead: xkcd.com [xkcd.com]

    • by berashith (222128)

      a real nerd would calculate the speed of the top book in the stack relative to the bodies it would pass on the way, given that the stack is in a static location on earth.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This site's is news for nerds, not news for Joe Sixpack.

      That's precisely the reason it's measured in books and not in football fields.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      9.6 billion terabyte USB drives.
      Better? Oh should I say: Nerdier? ;-)

  • "By the year 2100, old had become so scarce that it was worth more than an ounce of silver, creating an energy drought. Citizens could barely afford to turn-on a 10 watt lightbulb..... forget the high expense of a computer and internet network."

    Surely there must be some Science-based fiction that deal with this negative future?

    • Yeah, I'm totally up for reading some good LED fic.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        LEDs use a Lot more power. They would not be used during an energy drought. Probably e-ink would be used (like the kindle), although it would cost $50 per battery charge (ouch). Maybe society would revert to paper, since it requires no energy to use a book.

        • LEDs use a Lot more power.

          No, they don't. Not light emitted per unit of electrical input, anyway.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Maybe society would revert to paper, since it requires no energy to use a book.

          LOL good luck reading paper books without gas for the chainsaws, diesel for the cranes and trucks to the mill, hundreds of megawatts of electricity for the paper mills, diesel for the trucks to the printers, oil for the printing press ink, propane for the pallet forklifts, diesel for the trucks to the store, gasoline to drive to and from the store...

          Would be easier and probably more ecologically sound to stick to wireless kindles.

          Also I find it unlikely a kindle charge would require $50 at present value...

    • "By the year 2100, old had become so scarce that it was worth more than an ounce of silver, creating an energy drought. Citizens could barely afford to turn-on a 10 watt lightbulb..... forget the high expense of a computer and internet network."

      Surely there must be some Science-based fiction that deal with this negative future?

      There's a seniors home near my place that's full of old. Come and get it.

  • ...so high, or just 1 really large PDF.
  • After Zetta (10^21) comes Yotta (10^24), but then what? Are SI going to come up with new prefixes for values 10^27 and up?

  • "I have travelled the length and breadth of this country, and have talked with the best people in business administration. I can assure you on the highest authority that data processing is a fad and won't last out the year." — Editor in charge of business books at Prentice-Hall publishers, responding to Karl V. Karlstrom (a junior editor who had recommended a manuscript on the new science of data processing), c. 1957

    It's been hardly more than fifty years. Where will we be in another fifty years, say b

    • by blair1q (305137)

      I have travelled the length and breadth of this internet, and have talked with the worst people in web 2.0. I can assure you on the highest authority that people's hunger for unoriginal content is a fad and won't last out the year.

  • Better visual (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:41PM (#36075836)

    Most people cannot imagine the distance to Neptune, so that is a bad visual. Here is a better one:

    9.57ZB is approx 10^22 bytes. A typical laptop HDD can hold a terabyte, so you would need 10^10, to about 10 billion. A laptop HDD is about 3 cubic inches. A standard shipping container (40x8x8 ft^3) would hold about 1.5 million if they were packed tightly. So you would need about 6800 containers. That would be a train about 75 miles long.

    If each byte in 9.57ZB was a water molecule. It would be slightly less than a teaspoon.

    • by Dunega (901960)
      So how many Libraries of Congress are in a teaspoon?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      So you would need about 6800 containers.

      So about 1 Sendai tsunami's worth of containers?

    • by sootman (158191)

      > Most people cannot imagine the distance to
      > Neptune, so that is a bad visual.
      > ...
      > If each byte in 9.57ZB was a water molecule. It
      > would be slightly less than a teaspoon.

      Most people can't visualize the size of a water molecule either. ;-)

      Good HDD analogy though. I agree that the original "stack of books" one is dumb. Though I wouldn't even break it down to hard drives. Just say "it would take X many containers full of laptops* to hold all that data."

      * or iPods.

    • by ian_from_brisbane (596121) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @04:01AM (#36080118)

      A laptop HDD is about 3 cubic inches.

      What's that in cubic centimetres?

      A standard shipping container (40x8x8 ft^3) would hold about 1.5 million if they were packed tightly.

      What's that in cubic metres?

      That would be a train about 75 miles long.

      What's that in km?

      If each byte in 9.57ZB was a water molecule. It would be slightly less than a teaspoon.

      You mean 5ml?

      I think I'll go back to thinking of the distance to Neptune.

  • Who really cares? (Score:4, Informative)

    by LordStormes (1749242) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:42PM (#36075844) Homepage Journal

    The vast majority of this data isn't stored. The vast majority of it is streaming porn and Netflix. Why did we pay some "scientist" for 3 years (read the summary, it says "three years ago") to calculate this, so we can all be amused by it on /. for 10 minutes? Part of the reason nobody's working in science anymore is that most of our government- and university-backed science is fluff like this to get your soundbite, rather than stuff that makes a difference in our world. Figure out how to GET to Neptune, not how to stack virtual books that high with 30-second free trials of every porn site in Russia.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      FTFA "Most of this information is incredibly transient: it is created, used and discarded in a few seconds without ever being seen by a person," said Bohn, a professor of technology management at UC San Diego.

      XML overhead, HTTP headers, page reloads instead of AJAX/DOM updates. And much of it is identical, just served to different people, such as the dynamically generated static pages of slashdot.

      There is no point to this number other than illustrating how much data goes over the pipes. And even then, it

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Don't worry there is real science going on, but unfortunately you don't speak Mandarin.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      The vast majority of this data isn't stored.

      Contrary to legislative intent.

    • The vast majority of this data isn't stored. The vast majority of it is streaming porn and Netflix. Why did we pay some "scientist" for 3 years (read the summary, it says "three years ago") to calculate this, so we can all be amused by it on /. for 10 minutes? Part of the reason nobody's working in science anymore is that most of our government- and university-backed science is fluff like this to get your soundbite, rather than stuff that makes a difference in our world. Figure out how to GET to Neptune, not how to stack virtual books that high with 30-second free trials of every porn site in Russia.

      Who cares? I'll tell you who cares -- Copyright holders. I may have a website, but I did not authorize you or all the intermediary routers to copy my work multiple times per view! Just because I put my HTML e-book on my web-server doesn't give you or your ISP the right to make so many duplications!

      I'm positive if you further analyzed the data that was transmitted you would realize that there are Billions and Billions of illegal reproductions in that dataset!

      iTunes doesn't license AT&T's routers t

    • by blair1q (305137)

      You read a soundbite filtered through multiple internet links at sites given to hyping soundbites and from that you conclude that all government science funding is going to producing soundbites.

      Just how big is the cluebat hanging over your head?

    • by kesuki (321456)

      in tfa it read this

      "The scientists estimate there were 3.18 billion workers in the world's labor force at the time, each of whom received an average of 3TB of information per year."

      was only business workers. so your point is invalidated.

    • by sco08y (615665)

      Why did we pay some "scientist" for 3 years (read the summary, it says "three years ago") to calculate this, so we can all be amused by it on /. for 10 minutes?

      Astounding as it may seem, researchers don't just work on one project to the exclusion of all else. This is probably the "human interest" stuff they do on the side.

  • by Konster (252488)

    This needs to be put into A Library Of Congress context before I can understand it.

    • by idontgno (624372)
      I can't understand this, really, unless it's a pizza analogy. Or maybe a car analogy. Best yet, a pizza delivery car analogy.
  • Unless you count the bits, rather than the bytes. That gets you all the way to Alpha Centauri *and* three planetary blocks further down the starway to the nice, homely pizzeria at the intersection...
  • This is within a factor of ten to a mole of bits [wolframalpha.com]. That's an analogy science geeks can relate to.
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Great, I can just see someone at Best Buy in a few years:

      "Yes, I'l like to buy a hard drive please, 0.2 mol dm^3 or more...

  • Three significant digits?

  • It's only 8.1 ZiB.

    If they wanted to be impressive, they could've said it was more than 10^7 porn years [theregister.co.uk].

  • Isn't a lot clearer just to say it's equivalent 9.57 billion terabytes?

    I mean you could also make it seem really small by saying it was equivalent to the size of a 1 second clip of the beating of a fruit fly's wing recorded as uncompressed 4096x4096 video at 71.3 picohertz.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      It's 1.2e16 Lennas [usc.edu].

    • Zettabyte already is a relevant term. It means 10^21 bytes. Using "billion terabytes" is more confusing because you're using two different scaling factors. It would make more sense to say "billion trillion bytes".

      • It just seems that most people who use the internet know what a terabyte is. Terabyte size hard drives are pretty common, so it's easy to understand how much space that is. And although 10 billion is hard to imagine, "billion" is a commonly used term and understood.

        Whereas people aren't familiar with a zettabyte, or a 10^21 bytes, or 1 with 21 zeros, any more then they are familiar with the space required to hold a 4096x4096 1second video running at 71.3 picohertz, or how much data is in a stack of books 5.

        • Most people who use the internet have no idea what "terabyte" means. They probably think it's a marketing term like "Pentium".

          And if I recall correctly, the U.S. uses "million" and "billion" differently than Europe does. I'm too lazy to Google the difference now but I don't think those translate very well either.

          • Most would have a better idea of what a terabyte that is compared to zettabyte. And we are talking about network traffic, which is a subject that the people would would be interested in and the people that know what a terabyte is probably overlaps somewhat, I'm guessing.

            Europe, right... and not the UK, though, because they use billion as the US does.. so people speaking other languages. I apologize, I should have thought about them.. I can't be English centric, regardless if we are talking about terms in th

            • Using "billion trillion" is at least using two terms from the same nomenclature. Using "billion terra" is mixing SI nomenclature with standard counting nomenclature - which just seems silly.

              And the only reason some number of people know what a terabyte is? Because people started using it when the term was appropriate, instead of using "one million megabytes". Now zettabyte is the relevant term and people need to learn it. Fortunately they can drop kilobyte from their memory to make room; no one cares ab

              • Using "billion trillion" is at least using two terms from the same nomenclature. Using "billion terra" is mixing SI nomenclature with standard counting nomenclature - which just seems silly.

                You didn't blink when I pointed out you just contradicted yourself, and then you hit me up with that?

                Is "billion trillion" less silly? Why not thousand million million? How about gigaterabyte? Does that sound better?

                Anyway, the term "billion trillion bytes" is confusing to more people than "billion terabytes", because terabytes is a more familiar term. When was the last time you saw a hard drive advertised that it held "one trillion bytes"? You even wrote,

                Fortunately they can drop kilobyte from their memory to make room; no one cares about those any more.

                If they can drop "kilobyte" from their memory alre

  • Why the hell would they measure the data in Zetabytes? That comes out to an unwieldy 9.57 ZB.

    Books between planets? Common folk don't comprehend global scales, much less interplanetary scales... Want proof? Did anyone ask at what time of year the measurement was taken? An exact date would be required, and even then, most common folk don't know if we are closer or nearer to the planets mentioned at that date -- It's a ridiculously obtuse measure since the unit (planetary distance) wildly varies by da

    • by Laxori666 (748529)
      That could actually be a good measure for relative purposes. Measure the internet's worth of info for each year. See how 2001 compares to 2000, 2002 to 2001, etc, or 2010 to 2005, 2010 to 1995, etc.
  • We can carry that much information in our cellphones. We go back in history see this article and laugh at their puny attempt to impress our future selfs on the amount of data we once processed.
    I remember back in the late 80's people were talking about the amount of data that can be stored on 3.5" Floppy. And was impressed they could fit the text of an encyclopedia onto it.

  • I wonder if this counted all of the World of Warcraft servers worldwide as well? Since 2004 I'm sure there's been a LOT of information sent back and forth between millions of players! :)

  • That would presumably cause a wobble in the sun's rotation, which could be detected at interstellar distances. We finnaly have a way of finding intelligent civilisations (even if they don't broadcast radio or TV signals.

  • It may be time to come up with a new unit: how many Ringworlds would that be?

  • I rather doubt the processing volume was precisely

    9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes

    As stated in the summary. While the mark of 9.57ZB implies that number, it does not inherently mean that exact number - especially in a situation like this where that precise of a measurement is pretty well impossible.

  • ... whether Sturgeon's Law applies to that business data. (Yeah... it probably does and it's likely an underestimation.)

  • What have books got to do with anything?

    I know the zettabyte is really hard to conceptualize, but does it help to convert it to some equally ludicrous measurement? Neptune and back, 20 times? Is that when Neptune is closest to Earth, furthest, or some sort of average? I mean, there is the possibility of a 2 AU difference in EVERY STACK! 2 AU x 2 stacks x 20 round trips is 80 AU of uncertainty! That enough for at least a round trip to Neptune!

    Or, to put it more understandable terms, that's at least 50 exaby

  • "the total is equivalent to a 5.6-billion-mile-high stack of books stretching from Earth to Neptune and back to Earth, repeated about 20 times."

    I'm American. How many football fields is that?

    And how much of that is only "information" in the most technical sense of the word, consisting of LOLcats, ASCII dongs and such?

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