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Gigabytes, Gigahertz and Other Billions of Units

The world has officially become device mad.

Most people have a smartphone. Some even have two. There are also tablets, phablets, surface books, touch screen laptops, smart watches and even smart fridges.

As a way of differentiating each device, marketers often use the same key specifications - allowing us to base our purchasing decisions almost solely on comparison.

"2GHz, 2GB, 16GB"

AR-Blog-2So what do these numbers actually mean?

Ultimately, it depends on the context. "GHz", literally refers to the number of billions of "things" that occur each second. You may have seen this in reference to CPU frequency or the speed of the device's memory.

CPU frequency is essentially how quickly it can perform complex tasks. In today's world, unless you're developing software, playing recent games or using video editing software, it is unlikely that you will require the most powerful CPU.

Similarly, memory also depends on the context. Memory (RAM) is usually measured in gigabytes (GB), which means "billions of bytes" - with one byte holding roughly: 1 character, a quarter of a pixel or 12,000th of a second of audio.

When you open an app or file, it is copied into the device's memory to be used and worked on. Memory is fast - so fast that it usually is not referenced by its speed, only the size.  The more memory in your device, the more apps or files you can have open at the same time.

AR-Blog-1-300x200We then have storage. Storage is permanent and can reliably hold data for years without power. Storage is much slower than memory but also much cheaper and larger. Whenever you save a document, the data is transferred to your storage to be accessed later, whereas the program and the current document are stored in the memory. More storage means that you can save more files!

So let's get back to those numbers - 2GHz, 2GB and 16GB.

If you were to see a product title containing these three units, it's safe to assume that GHz is referring to the CPU speed. The smaller number is then in reference to memory and the larger in reference to storage. Though there's no harm in checking first!

I understand that this can be information overload to many - so whether the specifications mean anything to you or not, in this instance, bigger is almost always better. Well, perhaps not shipping time or price!

As many products are advertised in this same way, it is very simple to do accurate side-by-side comparisons between products in the same price bracket. If it's still all a bit too much, you can always rely on a leisurely read through the product reviews.

More Information

If you enjoy learning about technology and want to read more from Andy Roberts, make sure to visit the author page for more about software, security and infrastructure.

Contact us by calling 01202 684 009 if you have any questions!

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