Units, Units, Units

1 minute read

We’ve now reached a time where most people are fairly computer savvy. However, despite knowing how most of the parts of a computer interact and work, the units are still seemingly impossible to master. Let’s review shall we?

Hard drives and memory are measured in storage units. They based upon the unit byte (which is in turn 8 bits). A long, long, long (did I mention long?) time ago, hard drives were measured in MB (megabytes). Once they reached one thousand megabytes (or 1,024 depending on how anal you are), they started measuring them in GB (gigabytes). This has been true for the better part of a decade. It’s time to force yourself to type GB. As for memory, most people don’t get this wrong yet. Most users still have less than 1 GB and as such, will refer to it in MBs.

CPU speed is measured in cycles per second, or hertz. Formerly, hertz were measured in mega units, or MHz. Again, once computers reached a thousand hertz, the units were gigahertz (GHz). When you compare your old 500 MHz computer and your new “1 MHz” computer, you sound like a complete moron. Get it right.

Finally, bandwidth is measured in bits per second (bps). This can be preceded by K (kilo) or M (mega). Read a guide on unit prefixes to figure this out.

The whole thrust of this rant is that units are not hard. Don’t write down specifications if you can’t be bothered to know what the units involved are, because if you can’t manage those, then you probably don’t have a handle on their significance.