What is the “2038 effect” and which gadgets might be impacted by it?

It’s possible that the “2038 effect,” which is also known as Y2K38, may cause widespread failure in 2038. A POSIX-based time representation is affected by this problem (Unix Time). Counting the number of seconds since January 1, 1970, at 00:00:00 UTC is what this is all about.


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What is the “2038 effect”

Remember the computer apocalypse? That’s what you need to know to understand what the 2038 effect is. As a result of the 2000 effect, the world of computing was thought to have devastating implications that went beyond the domain of computers.

During the end of the twentieth century, many programmers didn’t have a clear picture of what was to come. Instead of having four digits on the dates that show the years, they kept them with two. In 2000, teams would score “00” if they didn’t take into account that it was the year 2000.

So, all of the software that had a date in it would not work. Many important systems, like power, transportation, and banks would end up losing their customers’ data and all accounts would be left at 0. This would cause a chain reaction, and many of these systems would also lose their customers’ data.

Countries spent a lot of money trying to find a way to solve this problem so that there would not be a computer meltdown all over the world. Thanks to this, the damages were very small.

Now that the experts have returned, they are predicting a financial catastrophe comparable to the one we were expecting to see in the year 2000. As a result, Effect 38 will have the greatest impact on the Unix operating system, which is used by both Android and iOS, as well as internet servers and wireless access points.

UNIX maintained track of time via a 32-bit counting system. This 32-bit system, which remains the de facto norm for modern computers, began counting forward on January 1st, 1970 at 00:00:00 UTC. This counter has a finite number of seconds that it can count between +(2^31 – 1) and -(2^31 – 1), which is equal to 2,147,483,647 seconds in both directions. While 2 billion seconds seems like a long time (and it is), this system will nonetheless exactly count its final second on 19th January 2038 at 03:14:07.

Once this date passes, the counter will begin counting in the negative direction, prompting computers to reset to December 13th, 1901, resulting in a variety of faults in every modern 32-bit computer.


How 2038 Problem could affect the world

Even though everything appears to be a near-biblical calamity on paper, there isn’t much to be concerned about. Think about the fact that 32-bit processors have been phased out in favor of 64-bit processors for years, and also that even though 64-bit processors have a bigger bit capacity, it would take hundreds of years for that problem to persist.


When Microsoft released Windows XP Professional in 2005, 64-bit versions of the operating system were available. Apple’s macOS operating system has been exclusively 64-bit since Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” in 2011, and the first Android phones with 64-bit processors began to be released in 2014.

If 32 bits are already becoming obsolete in 2017, it makes sense to think that by 2038, even the 64-bit ones that are being switched over will also be gone. If you think about it, technology is moving so quickly that it’s not likely that we will even remember 32 bits in 20 years.


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