Three Zettabytes: Is It Really That Much?

Farewell to a gigabyte

Some twenty years ago, when choosing a laptop, a 40 GB hard drive seemed just gigantic. Simple smartphones now offer over 30GB of storage, and flagship iPhones have surpassed the 500GB bar.

Today you will not surprise anyone with gigabytes. The generated data is growing exponentially around the world, so you will have to move to new terms that mean even larger volumes. It’s time to say goodbye to gigabytes. Meet terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes!

On the scale of laptops and home computers, users operate in volumes no higher than a few terabytes. One terabyte decimal is 1000 gigabytes. Followed by petabytewhich is 1000 terabytes. Which already exceeds the data storage needs of ordinary users. But in the information technology industry, such volumes have been found for a long time. Back in 2008, Google talked about processing about 20 petabytes per day (Google today no longer discloses the amount of data processed). But if we take all the academic libraries in the United States and put their information together, then we get only up to 2 petabytes.

Followed by exabytesof 1000 petabytes and zettabytes (1000 exabytes). They are already more difficult to understand, since such volumes are unlikely to be clearly expressed. But the same Cisco estimated the volume of global Internet traffic in 2016 at one zettabyte. Of course, today it is already many zettabytes.

What is three zettabytes equal to?

In March 2021, Seagate announced that the total capacity of released HDDs had reached three zettabytes. Is it a lot or a little? Let’s figure it out.

The zettabyte bar was reached 36 years after the company was founded. It took another four years to get to the two zettabyte level. Finally, after another two years, the capacity of all supplied hard drives from Seagate exceeded three zettabytes.

In recent years, the capacity of supplied HDDs has grown rapidly.

  • In the movie “Elysium – Heaven Not on Earth” the volume of brain data of the protagonist was 50 exabytes… And three zettabytes are enough to store 60 such brains.

  • Three zettabytes are enough to write 30 Billion 4K Movies… If you want to see them all, it will take 5.4 million years! Or you can record 60 billion games that can be enjoyed for 86,700 lifetimes without interruption. But do you have enough lives?

  • A three zettabyte array can be written 7.5 trillion MP3 songs… Taking into account the current population of the Earth 7.7 billion, each person will receive a personal library of 1000 songs. This amount of music is enough to run a disco for 43 million years.

  • If you love taking selfies, how many can you save in that volume? 1.5 quadrillion! In order not to go into the numbers, we will inform you that each inhabitant of the Earth will receive a personal library of 200 thousand images.

  • But looking to the future, the demand for affordable storage capacity will grow even faster. AND in a few years, three zettabytes will be like a drop in the ocean

Even more capacity!

As can be seen on Seagate Rethink Data Report, the International Data Corporation (IDC) consultancy expects data generated to exponentially grow by 2025 up to 175 zettabytes – 58 times more than the capacity of hard drives supplied by Seagate to date! In other words, more data will be generated every hour than in a full year two decades ago.

  • If you burn 175 zettabytes to a DVD, then a stack of discs is enough to gird the Earth 222 times!

  • If you decide to download 175 zettabytes at an average internet connection speed, you will have to spend 1.8 billion years… If you ask every person on Earth to help with the download, it will still take 81 days …

Where does all this data come from?

Is all this data created by users? Think about how much data you personally create on a daily basis. Every interaction with a computer or smartphone results in the generation of data. Each visit to the social network creates data. When you walk down the street with your smartphone in your pocket, it also generates data, determining the position through the GPS receiver and storing it. Pay with your smartphone in a store? Data. Do you chat in forums, comment on videos, like? Data, data, data.

We have statistics, albeit not the freshest. In one minute:

  • Twitter users post over 500,000 tweets

  • Snapchat users share over half a million snapshots

  • Instagram users post more than 50 thousand photos

  • More than 120 new users are added to LinkedIn

The penetration of digital technologies into our lives leads to a rapid increase in data volumes. The connection to the Internet of various smart devices, not only smartphones, but also TVs, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, etc., also makes its contribution.

There are others statistical details:

  • Every second Google processes more than 40.000 requests, that is, 3.5 billion per day

  • 2 billion people are active Facebook users. One fourth of the world’s population! They publish more than 300 million photos everyday!

  • Two thirds of the world’s population use a mobile phone

The 10 TB Exos hard drive is 147 mm long.  If you collect three zettabytes of such disks and put them in a row one after another, then they can encircle the entire globe, and even a margin will remain!
The 10 TB Exos hard drive is 147 mm long. If you collect three zettabytes of such disks and put them in a row one after another, then they can encircle the entire globe, and even a margin will remain!

What does the future hold for us?

Now let’s move on to the prospects for the near future.

Did you know that self-driving cars generate up to 32 terabytes of data every day, and this applies to every car? Just recently we published an article on the importance of data in autonomous driving… Clever plants produce 1 petabyte of data daily, and a smart city – 2.5 petabytes of data per day… Each smart city will generate data of about 1 exabyte per year… Thousand smart cities – 1 zettabyte per year

Human Genome takes 100 GB data… And if we want to preserve the genome data of every person on the planet, then we need 700 exabytes of capacity, that is 0.7 zettabytes

Therefore, the demand for data will grow! And you shouldn’t be surprised at the huge numbers!

What about efficiency?

But is all this data used effectively? Not at all, according to IDC researchers. Only 32% of the data collected in the corporate segment is beneficial. BUT 68% of the data is not used in any way… Therefore, a significant part of the potential is lost.

What conclusion should be drawn from this? Storage infrastructure and storage capacity must keep pace with the growth in generated data… Fortunately, thanks to technologies like HAMR (see our article “From Stained Glass to Terabytes: Solving the Mysteries of HAMR”), the expansion of hard disk capacity continues. Therefore, corporate storages will not “starve”.

The result is as follows: we will have to live in a world of zettabyte-scale data… All this will allow introducing various innovations in everyday life and work, communication between people, and caring for our planet. But there must be ways to easily, securely, and inexpensively receive, store, and exchange data. Seagate in this area promotes open standards in its storage systems… Here you can remember platform Lyve for storing large amounts of data at the edge and in the cloud, including new Lyve Rack, Lyve Mobile and Lyve cloudhelping the enterprise segment reduce the cost and complexity of storing, moving and using data at any scale of business.

Data is the new oil!

It should be remembered that data are of great value… The more a business invests in creating, capturing, analyzing and storing data, the more opportunities for its effective use. The more discoveries data can help make, the more problems it solves, and the more profits it can generate.

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