# Mebibyte

The mebibyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information.[1] The binary prefix mebi means 220; therefore one mebibyte is equal to 1048576bytes, i.e., 1024 kibibytes. The unit symbol for the mebibyte is MiB.

The unit was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1998.[2] It was designed to replace the megabyte when used in the binary sense to mean 220 bytes, which conflicts with the definition of the prefix mega in the International System of Units (SI) as a multiplier of 106. The binary prefixes have been accepted by all major standards organizations and are part of the International System of Quantities.[3] Many Linux distributions use the unit, but it is not widely acknowledged within the industry or media.[4][5][6][7]

## Definition

1 MiB = 220 bytes = 1048576bytes = 1024 kibibytes

This definition implies that

1024 MiB = 1 gibibyte (GiB)

The prefix mebi is a binary prefix derived from the SI prefix mega- and the word binary. Its value is a binary (2n) approximation of 106, the base-10 order of magnitude indicated by mega- in SI. One mebibyte (MiB) is 220, i.e. 1024 × 1024 bytes,[8] or 1048576bytes.

Despite its official status, the unit mebibyte is not commonly used even when reporting byte counts calculated in binary multiples, but is often represented as a megabyte. Formally, one megabyte denotes 1000 × 1000 bytes. The discrepancy may cause confusion, since operating systems using the binary method report lower numerical values for storage size than advertised by manufacturers, such as disk drive manufacturers who strictly use decimal units.

## History and usage

The mebibyte is closely related to the megabyte, which formally refers to 1,000,000 bytes. Within the field of computer science, during the 1970s and 1980s, the term megabyte generally meant 2 to the power 20 (1,048,576) bytes, but was sometimes used to mean 1,000,000 bytes.[9] The errors associated with this ambiguity are relatively small with the lower prefixes in the series, i.e. for kilo and mega, but grows to substantial differences beyond.

In 1995, to resolve this ambiguity, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry's Interdivisional Committee on Nomenclature and Symbols proposed new prefixes kibi, mebi, etc for powers of 1024.[10][11] The mebi proposal was formally adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission in December 1998, and published in January 1999.[12][13][14][15]

Many operating systems compute file size in mebibytes, but report the number as MB (megabytes). For example, all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system show a file of 220 bytes as "1.00 MB" or "1,024 KB" in its file properties dialog and show a file of 106 (1000000) bytes as 976 KB.

All versions of Apple's operating systems had the same behavior until 2009 with Mac OS X version 10.6, which instead uses megabytes for all file and disk sizes, so it reports a 106 byte file as 1 MB.[16][17]

The Ubuntu developer Canonical implemented an updated units policy in 2010 and as of Ubuntu 10.10 all versions use IEC binary prefixes for base-2 quantities and SI prefixes for base-10 quantities.[18]

## References

1. ^ International Electrotechnical Commission (January 2010). "IEC 60050 - International Electrotechnical Vocabulary - Details for IEV number 112-01-27". Retrieved 2011-06-19.
2. ^ International Electrotechnical Commission (January 1999), IEC 60027-2 Amendment 2: Letter symbols to be used in electrical technology - Part 2: Telecommunications and electronics.[1]
3. ^ "IEC 80000-13:2008". International Organization for Standardization. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
4. ^ Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Scott Mueller, Pg. 596, ISBN 0-7897-2974-1
5. ^ The silicon web: physics for the Internet age, Michael G. Raymer, Pg. 40, ISBN 978-1-4398-0311-0
6. ^ Knuth: Recent News. Cs-staff.stanford.edu. Retrieved on 2011-01-07.
7. ^ Atwood, Jeff. (2007-09-10) Gigabyte: Decimal vs. Binary. Coding Horror. Retrieved on 2011-01-07.
8. ^ "Definition of NIST binary". Ziff-Davis. 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
9. ^ NIST "Prefixes for binary multiples" https://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html
10. ^ IUCr 1995 Report - IUPAC Interdivisional Committee on Nomenclature and Symbols (IDCNS) http://ww1.iucr.org/iucr-top/cexec/rep95/idcns.htm
11. ^ "Binary Prefix" University of Aukland Department of Computer Science https://wiki.cs.auckland.ac.nz/stageonewiki/index.php/Binary_prefix
12. ^ NIST "Prefixes for binary multiples" https://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html
13. ^ Amendment 2 to IEC International Standard IEC 60027-2: Letter symbols to be used in electrical technology - Part 2: Telecommunications and electronics.
14. ^ HDD Turns 50 Years Today - The Chronicles
15. ^ Backman, R. B. (2004). The Description, Evolution, and Applications of Binary Prefixes.
16. ^ "How Mac OS X reports drive capacity". Apple Inc. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
17. ^ David Pogue (2011), Mac OS X Lion: The Missing Manual Missing Manual, Oreilly Series, O'Reilly Media, pp. 473–474, ISBN 978-1-4493-9749-4
18. ^ "Ubuntu UnitsPolicy". Ubuntu. 2010. Retrieved 2013-09-26.