A modest proposal for a more natural KB

imageI recently wrote a blog post saying that I thought Windows Explorer should use the more natural base-10 meanings of the kB/MB/GB/TB prefixes, instead of the base-2 meanings that are a few percent larger.

I convinced nobody. I was told, repeatedly, that there was nothing ‘natural’ about a base-10 TB and that base-10 prefixes in computing were just a way for hard-drive manufacturers to rip-off innocent customers.

Okay, I get it. What the people really want are kB/MB/GB/TB prefixes that are bigger than those puny base-10 prefixes, and that are genuinely natural. America didn’t become great again by using foreign prefixes that are smaller than they should be. Therefore I present to you:

The KeB.

A base-10 kB is a mere 1,000 – ten to the third power. A base-2 KB is a modest 1,024 – two to the tenth power. A base-e KeB is 1096.63315… – e to the seventh power. This transcendental magnitude prefix is perfect for all of your computing needs.

imageA KeB is bigger than both 1,000 and 1,024. It’s bodacious size means that a TeB will be 44% larger than a miniscule base-10 TB, and 31% larger than a puny base-2 TiB. Once TeB are legislated as the one-true measure of all things computer related we will enjoy networks that run 32% faster, and hard-drives that are 44% larger.

imageAnd, the KeB is clearly more ‘natural’ than a kB or KiB – they don’t call them ‘natural logarithms‘ for nothing. And, while some may complain that an ‘e’ based KB is irrational, we should instead be freed by the knowledge that our files will never be an integral number of KeB in size. And unlike traditional capacity measurements like “number of MP3s” or “libraries of congress” the KeB/MeB/GeB trifecta are universal and irrefutable.

One complication may come with memory. Memory is traditionally addressed using discrete address lines that are zerpi o or one, high or low, and therefore inherently binary. I’ve been told by my electrical engineering friends that natural-logarithmically addressed memory poses some challenges, so until those challenges are solved it is likely that computers will continue to be sold with memory capacities such as 8 GiB. But! No problem! Once the GeB becomes universal these 8 GiB computers will simply be marketed as having a ~6.5 GeB memory capacity – the honesty of this unit is not to be denied.

You can do your part by using KeB/MeB/GeB in all of the software and blog posts that you write. Once we unite around the one-true prefix we will be better placed to fend off the Illuminati’s plans to metricate the world, and we will get true exponential growth in computing at a rate that will make Moore’s law look slow.

Happy π day.


About brucedawson

I'm a programmer, working for Google, focusing on optimization and reliability. Nothing's more fun than making code run 10x faster. Unless it's eliminating large numbers of bugs. I also unicycle. And play (ice) hockey. And sled hockey. And juggle. And worry about whether this blog should have been called randomutf-8.
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11 Responses to A modest proposal for a more natural KB

  1. Pavel Celba says:

    I’m still definitely convinced that base 10 is the right way to go – with:
    1) The size information for the user
    2) The representation floating points in the computer and processor memory

    Everything else is leading to a complication that we are forced to think in binary which is not meaningful at all when you want to compute in base 10.

  2. mormegilcz says:

    The electrical engineering friends should really try to do something about the natural-logarithmically addressed memory. IIANM, base-e addressing is optimal (for some definition of that).

  3. Allan says:

    Never mind e, what about pi? Lovely round number.

    • brucedawson says:

      Seriously? Are you actually for realz suggesting a KpB based on pi(6)? That would be, like, 961.389, which is tiny. We can’t make the world better by making units smaller.

  4. stormban says:

    It wont fly

  5. They could accept the new style with KiB, MiB, etc. and descrease confusing people. The oral versions of this proposition (kibi/mebi/etc.) is ugly as nightmare and shall be reworked, but written versions with ‘i’ is fine.

  6. wow, truly transcendental 🙂 !

  7. John Tasler says:

    This has already been “standardized” by IEC:


  8. iAPX says:

    As some others stated, base-10 is what everyone is learning from kindergarten, and most of us use this representation everyday. Size matter and you rule it! 🙂

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