Multiples of bytes
Value Metric
1000 kB kilobyte
10002 MB megabyte
10003 GB gigabyte
10004 TB terabyte
10005 PB petabyte
10006 EB exabyte
10007 ZB zettabyte
10008 YB yottabyte
1024 KB kilobyte KiB kibibyte
10242 MB megabyte MiB mebibyte
10243 GB gigabyte GiB gibibyte
10244 - - TiB tebibyte
10245 - - PiB pebibyte
10246 - - EiB exbibyte
10247 - - ZiB zebibyte
10248 - - YiB yobibyte
Orders of magnitude of data

A petabyte (symbol: PB) is 1015 bytes of digital information.

The prefix peta indicates the fifth power of 1000 and means 1015 in the International System of Units (SI), and therefore 1 petabyte is one quadrillion (short scale) bytes, or 1 billiard (long scale) bytes.

1 PB = 1000000000000000B = 1015bytes = 1000terabytes.

A related unit, the pebibyte (PiB), using a binary prefix, means 10245bytes, which is more than 12% greater than 10005bytes (250 bytes = 1125899906842624bytes).

Usage examples

Examples of the use of the petabyte to describe data sizes in different fields are:

  • The world's effective capacity to exchange information through two-way telecommunication networks was 281 petabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 471 petabytes in 1993, 2,200 petabytes in 2000, and 65,000 (optimally compressed) petabytes in 2007 (this is the informational equivalent to every person exchanging 6 newspapers per day).[1]
  • Computer hardware: Teradata Database 12 has a capacity of 50 petabytes of compressed data.[2][3]
  • Internet: Google processed about 24 petabytes of data per day in 2009.[4] The BBC's iPlayer is reported to use 7 petabytes of bandwidth each month.[5] Imgur transfers about 4 petabytes of data per month.[6] Yahoo stores 2 petabytes of data on behavior.[7] Netflix uses 1 petabyte to store the videos for streaming.
  • Telecoms: AT&T transfers about 30 petabytes of data through its networks each day.[8]
  • Physics: The experiments in the Large Hadron Collider produce about 15 petabytes of data per year, which are distributed over the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid.[9]
  • Neurology: It is estimated that the human brain's ability to store memories is equivalent to about 2.5 petabytes of binary data.[10]
  • As of April 2009, Facebook users had uploaded over 15 billion photos which made Facebook the biggest photo sharing website. For each uploaded photo, Facebook generates and stores four images of different sizes, which translated to a total of 60 billion images and 1.5 petabytes of storage, to date this will be even greater.[11]
  • Climate science: The German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) has a storage capacity of 60 petabytes of climate data.[12]
  • Archives: The Internet Archive contains about 10 petabytes in cultural material as of October 2012,[13] having grown more than 190 terabytes per month since reaching 5.8 petabytes in December 2010.[14] It was growing at the rate of about 100 terabytes per month in March 2009.[15][16]
  • Games: World of Warcraft uses 1.3 petabytes of storage to maintain its game.[17] Steam, a digital gaming service developed by Valve, delivers over 30 petabytes of content monthly.[18]
  • Film: The 2009 movie Avatar is reported to have taken over 1 petabyte of local storage at Weta Digital for the rendering of the 3D CGI effects.[19][20]
  • In August 2011, IBM was reported to have built the largest storage array ever, with a capacity of 120 petabytes.[21]
  • In January 2012, Cray began construction of the Blue Waters Supercomputer, which will have a capacity of 500 petabytes making it the largest storage array ever if realized.[22]
  • In July 2012 it was revealed that CERN amassed about 200 petabytes of data from the more than 800 trillion collisions looking for the Higgs boson.[23]
  • At its 2012 closure of file storage services, Megaupload held ~28 petabytes of user uploaded data.[24]
  • In August 2012, Facebook's Hadoop clusters include the largest single HDFS cluster known, with more than 100 PB physical disk space in a single HDFS filesystem.[25]
  • In May 2013, Microsoft announces that as part of their migration of Hotmail accounts to the new email system, they'd migrated over 150 Petabytes of user data in six weeks.[26]
  • 2013 - One petabyte is enough to store the DNA of the entire population of the USA - with cloning it twice.[27]
  • Petabyte of average MP3 encoded (for mobile, ~ 1MB per minute) average songs, lasting for ~4 minutes, gives album that can be fully heard after over 2000 years of playing continuously.[27]


External links

  • Petabyte Infographic by Pedro Pimenta
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