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An exabyte (derived from the SI prefix exa-) is a unit of information or computer storage equal to one quintillion bytes (short scale). The unit symbol for the exabyte is EB. When used with byte multiples, the unit indicates a power of 1000:

  • 1 EB = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 B = 1018 bytes = 1 billion gigabytes = 1 million terabytes

The term exbibyte, using a binary prefix, is used for powers of 1024 bytes.

In principle, the 64-bit microprocessors found in many computers can address 16 exbibytes, or just over 18 exabytes, of memory.[1]


Exabyte in use

As of March 2010, the global monthly Internet traffic is estimated to be 21 exabytes.[2] As of May 2009, the size of the world's total digital content has been roughly estimated to be 500 billion gigabytes, or 500 exabytes.[3]

According to an IDC paper sponsored by EMC Corporation, 161 exabytes of data were created in 2006, "3 million times the amount of information contained in all the books ever written," with the number expected to hit 988 exabytes in 2010.[4][5][6]

According to CSIRO, in the next decade, astronomers expect to be processing 10 petabytes of data every hour from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.[7] The array is thus expected to generate approximately one exabyte every four days of operation. According to IBM, the new SKA telescope initiative will generate over an exabyte of data every day. IBM is designing hardware to process this information.[8]

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