- TechTuber Jeff Geerling’s daring data transfer experiment.
- Pigeon equipped with high-capacity microSD cards surpasses internet speeds.
- Comparison with a decade-old pigeon vs internet test.
- Insight into pigeon’s performance over varying distances.
- The limits of “PiJeff,” a jet-assisted pigeon, and their ascent to prominence.
- Commentary by Geerling on future prospects and broadband speeds
Famous TechTuber Jeff Geerling has given the age-old argument about the relative merits of data transfers provided by carrier pigeons vs the internet a modern perspective. In the era of widespread high-speed residential connectivity such as gigabit fiber optics, one might naturally anticipate the carrier pigeon to be utterly overshadowed in the year 2023.
However, as a twist of fate would have it, the pigeon, armed with its high-capacity microSD cards, triumphed over Geerling’s data transfer competition by a substantial margin. Yet, as we shall discover later, the pigeon’s superiority wanes when distances surpass approximately 600 miles.
In the annals of tech history, back in 2009, a South African enterprise conducted a comparison of transfer speeds between a pigeon carrying a 4 GB memory stick and the local ISP Telkom’s ADSL service. The avian courier completed its data delivery within one hour and eight minutes, with an additional hour required for physically transferring the 4 GB data payload to the computer. In contrast, the ADSL service managed to transmit only 4% of the equivalent data across a 60-mile span.
Fast forward to Geerling’s reenactment in 2023, over a decade later, where the evolution of pigeons had not brought about significant change, but data density had experienced substantial augmentation. Geerling ingeniously outfitted the bird with three streamlined 1TB SanDisk Extreme PRO flash drives (each weighing 5 grams), ensuring it wasn’t burdened beyond its capacities.
The avian traveler covered a mile in mere moments, reaching its destination in roughly a minute. With this data point in hand and incorporating the SanDisk flash drive transfer durations, Geerling charted a foundational 3TB transfer graph that showcased the pigeon’s capabilities. The inference drawn suggested that carrier pigeon transfers might prove triumphant over shorter distances, up to the 600-mile threshold, while internet connectivity would assert its dominance at greater spans.
Seeking to inject a fresh element of competition, Geerling introduced another contender into the arena to invigorate the race. He donned a pigeon mask and embarked on a journey via plane to transport 3 TB of files from his domicile in the United States to the Canadian data center, which also served as the destination for the internet-based transfer.
The graphical representations unveil that PiJeff (the jet-assisted version of Pigeon Jeff) exhibits improved performance over extended distances, yet ultimately concedes victory to internet transfers beyond the 5,000-mile mark.
In summation, Geerling opines that he could have certainly attained more impressive results as PiJeff, had he laden his baggage with high-capacity drives. Nevertheless, he opted to remain consistent with the uniform 3 TB benchmark across all alternatives.
Geerling remarks in his video that his Gigabit connection falls somewhat short of its marketed promises, with a peak sustained transport speed of roughly 75 MB/s. One can only hope that a decade hence, the era of broadband measured in petabits will have dawned, sparing pigeons from the inconvenience of having flash NAND devices strapped to their legs for the sake of our entertainment (and research).