Thomas (boggyb) wrote,

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A lifetime of video

I was writing a Majora's Mask post and searching for an older post/comment I'd made to reference (about that bit in Twilight Princess just before the Water Temple), when I stumbled across a comment I'd made elsewhere about microSD cards...

For some reason, the "data storage is getting smaller" example that really enthralls me is the fact that a VHS tape box full of MicroSD cards can store an entire human lifetime of VHS-quality video. (Particularly long-lived humans may require a second box.)

I wonder if it'll be any more understandable if I work out just how much that is. Let's see... a VHS cassette is 187x103x25 = 481,525mm3. A microSD card is 11x15x1 = 165mm3. Assuming perfect packing with no gaps that means you can fit 2,918 microSD cards in the same space as a VHS tape. According to wiki 32GB microSD cards exist, so that's over 93 terabytes of storage.

That's quite possibly more than every single form of digital data storage I've ever owned (hard disks, DVDs, CDs, *other* SD cards) put together.

Some half-assed math starting from the principle that we use MPEG-1 compression (1.5 Mbits/sec) suggests that you'd need 413 terabytes to store a human lifetime's worth of VHS-quality video. So a VHS tape box full of microSD cards wouldn't do it, but if you pick up a four-pack you're just about set.

That was back in 2010. Fast-forward to 2015, and you can now buy 128GB microSD cards - that's four times larger than what was available back then and gives you over 370TB of space. cdk's initial comment that a VHS-sized box of memory cards can store a lifetime of VHS-quality video is now almost true. Though that's not taking into account codec improvements - if instead of MPEG-1 we use something better and get the bitrate down to half that (which is easily achievable - a couple of random Youtube 360p videos I picked are around 750kb/s) then you can get over 120 years of video in that much space. These days you truly can fit a lifetime of video in a VHS box.

xkcd 691: microSD

That card holds a refrigerator carton's worth of floppy discs, and a soda can full of those cards could hold the entire iTunes store's music library. Mmmm.

Tags: computing

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