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Google Sorts Gobs Of Data Really Fast, People Freak Out

By shanesnow
Published on December 2, 2008

The people at Google never seemed to be the bragging types. However, they must have been too excited not to boast, when they recently declared that they had sorted 1 Terabyte of data in 68 seconds.

A Terabyte (TB) is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes, or 8,000,000,000,000 binary data bits. If these numbers are too mind-boggling to really wrap your head around, think of it this way: if each bit was a sheet of paper, with a Terabyte of data, you could stack C++ manuals all the way to the moon and back! (It would take approximately 4,384,967,400,000 sheets of standard bond paper to reach the moon from Earth)

That’s enough to make nerds and non-nerds shout “Holy crap!” in unison.

Google stated the purpose of such experiments:

Standardized experiments help us understand and compare the benefits of various technologies and also add a competitive spirit. You can think of it as an Olympic event for computations. By pushing the boundaries of these types of programs, we learn about the limitations of current technologies as well as the lessons useful in designing next generation computing platforms. This, in turn, should help everyone have faster access to higher-quality information.

So while 1TB in 68 seconds is impressive, it’s for a good purpose, too: Making people’s lives a little better by providing faster searches. Oh, and giving geeks something to impress their friends about.

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