What is a brontobyte?
A brontobyte is an unofficial measure of memory or data storage that is equal to 10 to the 27th power of bytes.
There are approximately 1,024 yottabytes in a brontobyte.
Brontobytes vs. ronnabytes
Brontobytes are sometimes represented by the symbol BB, but the prefix bronto- is not an official SI prefix that is recognized by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. In fact, in a November 2022 meeting, the bureau decided to use ronna- as the prefix equal to 10 to the 27th power. In its resolution, the bureau noted "the needs of data science in the near future to express quantities of digital information using orders of magnitude in excess of 1024." The bureau also decided to use quetta- as the prefix equal to 10 to the 30th power, rather than geopbyte, which is sometimes used.
In 2010, following a campaign on the campus of the University of California, Davis, an online petition was created to have hella- become the official SI prefix for 1027. The suggested prefix originated from Southern California slang for "hell of a lot." The prefix was incorporated into the Google calculator in May 2010, but the campaign otherwise subsided.
What brontobyte-level storage could entail
There is nothing in existence currently measurable on the brontobyte scale, but internet of things (IoT) and sensor data are the most common potential uses for brontobyte-level storage. The advent of technology like self-driving cars, which will generate enormous amounts of sensor data, could bring brontobytes as a unit into the storage media sphere.
Estimates and projections for future numbers of internet-connected objects differ, but if they keep growing at the current rate, they are sure to generate massive amounts of data soon.
For now, even yottabyte-scale storage has yet to enter the world of storage media. According to Paul McFedries' The Word Spy, it would take approximately 86 trillion years to download a 1-yottabyte file.
In recent years, vendors such as Fujitsu, Spectra Logic and Vast Data have released products that offer petabyte-level storage.
Editor's note: This article was revised in 2023 by TechTarget editors to improve the reader experience.