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The IEC 60027 standard finally distinguishes between amounts of bits based on powers of 2 and those based on powers of 10. It could be a tad disappointing to purchase a "1 Terabyte disk" thinking you're getting 1099511627776 bits of storage when, in fact, you've gotten a disk that will /only/ store 1000000000000 bits!

For /me/ a "kilobyte" has always meant 2^10 bytes and never 10^3 bytes. But... apparently this has resulted in at least two class action lawsuits in the U.S since the OS uses 1024 as the size of a kilobyte and the disk manufacturers apparently use 1000.

So, I'm writing a lispy front-end to the various Linux partitioning tools in order to create disk partitions. Do systems folks (I guess, other than me) actually use these new prefixes which *do* distinguish between those numbers of bits based on powers of two and those based on powers of ten?

Actually supporting these new units would be entirely trivial: The question at hand is will using GB to mean 1000^2 bytes and GiB to mean 1024^2 bytes, especially, since Wikipedia lists GB as *BOTH* 1000^2 and 1024^2 bytes(!!!!), under SI and JEDEC units respectively (JEDEC does not seem to specify quantities larger than Gigabytes (???)).

So, when a user says he wants a 10 GB partition, what should one give him? Clearly those who started using the SI units to refer to quantities of bits were just plain *wrong* (and, likely, stingy with their bits!). But what is, is... Manufacturers use the SI units your machine likely uses the JEDEC/IEC standards and the poor guy who just wants to partition his disk is stuck somewhere in the middle.

One possibility is, obviously, to allow the user to specify which system of units she wants to use. Again, my feeling is *I JUST WANT TO PARTITION THE DAMN DISK ALREADY! STOP ASKING ME STUPID QUESTIONS!*.

Another possibility is to accept the shadiness of the business world and to push the usage of the IEC standards on the users of such software. Then, if your shady manufacturer sold you a 1000 GB disk that had 1 TB using SI units and not IEC units, you wouldn't be that surprised when you could't create a 1 TB partition because you didn't have 1024 GB, but only 1000!

oh the realities that are hardware.... bah!
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July 2012

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