What Does Petabit Mean?

A petabit (Pb) is a unit of data measurement that is equal to one quadrillion bits of data (or 1015). Another way to represent this is that one petabit equals one million gigabits (Gb). The petabit is one of the largest types of practical measurements for data storage or data transfer rates (DTR).


Techopedia Explains Petabit

To understand the value of a petabit, it is important to start with a single bit. Common data measurements in IT use either a bit or byte as a fundamental data unit. A bit is one single binary data unit – either a one or zero. A byte is a sequence of bits. While conventional consumer technology measurements use bytes as the fundamental unit, some feel that bits provide a more reasonable basis for data measurement, because one bit corresponds to one binary unit.

With this in mind, a Pb can be a useful data measurement, as long as there is a common understanding that this type of data measurement is not the norm. For example, modern news reports may use the term petaflops to signify the transfer or turnover of one petabyte of information. While using a petabit measurement can give individuals a good grasp of the size of data in a modern data center or sophisticated IT architecture, it is not typically represented by terms involving the peta prefix. New technologies expressed in petabits (Pb) and petabytes (PB) include some of the most cutting edge government data centers and large data storage facilities in the world. Typically, consumer technology still revolves around measurements of terabits (Tb) and terabytes (TB), which are equal to 1,000 Gbs or GBs, respectively.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…