What Is A Nanosecond, And Why Do We Need To Understand That?

By: Bruce G. Kreeger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A nanosecond (ns) is an S.I. unit of time equal to one billionth of a second, that is, 1⁄1 000 000 000 of a second, or 10−9 seconds.

The term combines the prefix nano- with the basic unit for one-sixtieth of a minute.

A nanosecond is equal to 1000 picoseconds or 1⁄1000 microsecond. Time units ranging between 10−8 and 10−7 seconds are typically expressed as tens or hundreds of nanoseconds.

Time units of this granularity are commonly found in telecommunications, pulsed lasers, and related aspects of electronics.

To explain a nanosecond I am including a clip, below, of Admiral Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (1906-1992), who was a computer pioneer and U.S. Navy Officer. She earned a master’s degree (1930) and a Ph.D. (1934) in mathematics from Yale.

Admiral Hopper is best known for her trailblazing contributions to computer programming, software development, and the design and implementation of programming languages. A maverick and an innovator, she enjoyed long and influential careers in the U.S. Navy and the computer industry. 

As the President of the Admiral Farragut Academy Alumni Association (Pine Beach, NJ) and a member of the Board of Trustees during my tenure, I had the honor of meeting Admiral Hopper and enjoying a meal with her. I was captivated.

Watch the Video

At Clarity, we frequently hear a continued question of “why does it take so long” to retrieve data from the server, the internet, and my computer? While there are many contributing factors like malware, internet speed, network inefficiency, slow processor, or slow hard drive, often it is about the nanosecond.

At one point in time, I used to think higher speeds were attainable with higher degrees of bandwidth. This may be why the idea of ‘low latency’ seems so counter-intuitive. As you hopefully understand at this point, there are limitations to how fast data can move and that real gains in this area can only be achieved through efficiency improvements, in other words, the elimination (as much as possible) of latency.

Ethernet, speed, and Internet speed, really are about latency. Ethernet switch latency is defined as the time it takes for a switch to forward a packet from its ingress port to its egress port. The lower the latency, the faster the device can transmit packets to its final destination. Also crucial within this “need for speed” is avoiding packet loss. The magic is within the balancing act: speed and accuracy that challenge our understanding of traditional physics.

The next time you wonder why it takes so long, remember it’s all about the network, latency, and the time (in nanoseconds) your data goes from point A to point B and back.

An example of the use of these measures is that if your CPU clock speed is 3.5 Mhz (Megahertz per Second)= 285.71428571429 ns(p) (ns=nanoseconds). Ipsofacto the higher the clock speed, the faster the computer is.

We are currently using the Picosecond (One trillionth of a second) as a unit of measure and the nanosecond.

Clarity provides support to end-users, and our PSAs include Help Desk and Team Management. These modules include self-service utilities to cut down recourse to human assistance. Our Help Desk platforms also provide several channels for problem reporting, such as web form, email, phone, and online chat.

Clarity is an MSP (Managed Services Provider), CSP Cloud Service Provider (Cloud Service Provider), VoIP Trunking service provider, Microsoft 365 CSP, 3CX PBX Titanium Partner, along with other IT support offering such as UCaas (Unified Communications as a Service) and SaaS (Security as a Service). 

Clarity’s Dotman Tech division provides more services in Software Development, Content Creation, and Marketing Automation services.


Call Clarity at 800-354-4160 today or email us at [email protected]. We are partnered internationally around the globe and we are open seven days a week 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM EST/EDT. and


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