The blogosphere was amazed earlier this year when it realised the true size of Google. Think Google is the King Kong of search? Think a million King Kongs and you're getting close. Google processes 20 Petabytes of a data a day. Don't know what a Petabyte is? Check this out:
An MP3 is about 3MB. The Beatles recorded 214 singles- that's close to just one gigabyte. 1024 gigabytes makes a Terabyte and 1024 terabytes makes a petabyte. Lost and confused? We were too.
Our poor mortal minds haven't been so boggled by the 'big numbers' since a legendary wag fooled his elders out of 'quite a lot' of rice by using a chess board a few hundred years ago. We've used the same unit of measurement – grains of rice – to try to put Google's electronic brain power into perspective.
Let's relate a grain of rice to a byte. A byte is normally eight binary bits, eg '10011000'. It can also be written as a two digit hexadecimal number. In terms of data, a byte is generally used to store a letter. One byte = one letter = one grain of rice.
Bearing this new representation in mind, we can now look at a kilobyte (1024 bytes) as a small bowl of rice. It's about half a portion, not enough to fill you up – and in data terms a kilobyte would only be a few paragraphs of text – not much to mentally stimulate you there either.
Next up is the megabyte – which is around the size of all the text on an average website, or a short novel. On the rice scale, a megabyte would be a 25kilo bag of rice; enough to feed over 420 people in one sitting, if you have enough chairs.
1024 times larger still is the gigabyte. Back in 1995, I bought a PC with a gigabyte of hard drive space, and managed to store everything I needed on there for the next few years.