we – humanity – that is, created 4.4 zettabytes of data in the past year. It is expected to grow to 44 zettabytes in 2020. And no, I did not make up the word “zettabytes.” For scale, an estimated 42 zettabytes can store all human speech spoke. One Zettabyte is about 250 billion DVD-ROM drive -. Almost enough to fit all of Friends series

All that data will not be any use to us if we could not move it around quickly and reliably. We are constantly sending, receiving, and streaming video. We live in an age when anyone with a smart handheld device – and there are about 2.6 billion – could instantly become a video streamer. This large graph does not even include the large enterprise and government, most of which are currently doing most of their digital communication, adding to the huge amount of bits and bytes.

As the connection continues to grow rapidly, we can move the data fast enough? Are we ready to pay the price to move faster and more reliable?

in C or C

Modern technology / wire very quickly, but our creation and consumption data is fast catching up. Google Fiber, offering one of the fastest speeds available for regular users, has a transfer rate of one gigabit per second and Hibernia Express transatlantic fiber optic cable is currently under construction for use in the financial markets will have a rate of 8.8 terabits per second (8800x faster than Google Fiber). So why not just go faster?

We are running against the universal speed limit.

There are rules to the universe. Unfortunately, we do not know all of them. The fact that we know that information is the speed limit, namely, with the speed of light. Light passes 300 000 000 meters per second. These two cables, Google Fiber and Hibernia Express, both moving data around 2/3 (two-thirds the speed of light), the limited refractive properties of the glass. In principle, the light is reflected around and inside the cable slows.

Need For Speed ​​

out of business, milliseconds can mean millions of dollars, but today consumer expectations are higher than ever. Now consider the audience instantly, on-demand access rule. In this ecosystem, the word “buffer” means that something went wrong. Slow boot time for the images, online shopping may not mean clicking on the following site and never comes back. And for the streaming service provider or an online store, it means a dent in the bottom line.

Are we ready to pay the price to continue to move data faster and more reliably?

The speed with which we create the data is not going to slow down anytime soon. The emergence of the Internet of Things on the horizon – a predicted 25 billion units (three per person on earth) each for the production, transmission and reception of data. Is our infrastructure ready for this stage of the data?

age dress

Notice how the line in the infographic below is flattened over the past few decades? We have made enormous progress in recent decades, but now the pace of progress depends on a very different struggle. The most advanced technologies are just a few percentage points of the speed of light -. But the technology safely use this speed can be many years and many millions of dollars off of

The increase in the speed of a small percentage require intensive resources. Hibernia Express shave 6 milliseconds latency for the transatlantic transmission. It is estimated that the project will cost more than $ 300 million, and the company will pay millions for access to the line. Secret speed Hibernia is quite simple :. They put the cable in a straight line across the Atlantic

to the average consumer, and even those with intensive needs of speed, as financial markets, the faster the transmission does not make that much difference. But when we consider the sheer volume of data that will need to be moved constantly, reliably and without problems, the importance of these additional steps to better infrastructure is clear. Every tenth percentage point would be extremely impressive.

Faster, better, stronger

Fortunately, advances go quickly, although often at a great price. Researchers in the UK have created optic cables that move data at 99.73 percent the speed of light, and combined them with the technology that allows an incredible 73.7 terabits per second – 5 GB HD movie download in 1 second. These cables, however, are still the only effective within a very short distance, so that further work is needed.

A good way to avoid the loss of speed on physical media you send light through to avoid it altogether. Microwave relays which are sent through the (mostly) empty air, can travel much faster. The relay should be constructed as a series of stationary towers, so the viability of crossing the ocean in such a way will make for some serious construction problems. Some have suggested a number of stationary barges holding the tower, and in a truly science-fiction twist, network hovering drones that signal transmission over short distances using lasers.

All of this progress has come at a great cost. The financial sector, as a rule, led the charge, since they depend on the absolute maximum speed, and the technologies tested in the fire of international markets, will eventually make its way into the general business use.

We spend billions on this development; progress is slow compared to growth rates in the previous decades. Each fraction of the speed of light issues if we expect to keep up with the incredible amount of data we will be able to produce in the coming years.

milliseconds does not matter, as long as there are millions and millions and millions of people waiting to eat at speeds close to the speed of light.

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Featured image: Bryce Durbin