Y2K38 – The next Y2K is just 18 years away


    Y2K problem

    The Year 2000 problem (also referred to as Y2K problem, Y2K) refers to events related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000. Issues were not foreseen and occurred because many programs depicted four-digit years with only the final two digits – making the year 2000 identical to 1900. Hardware and Software firms competed to rectify the bug and gave “Y2K compliant” programs to support. The easiest solution was the ideal one: The date was just expanded from a two-digit number to a four-digit number. Governments, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States, operated to address the issue.


    Identical to Y2K, the Year 2038 problem (also referred to as Y2038, Y2k38). It is inflicted by 32-bit processors and the constraints of the 32-bit systems they power. Such executions are not able to encode time after 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038. The processor is the main component that operates all computing devices. It grinds the numbers and performs calculations that enable programs to operate. Reports claim that Y2K38 might be so bad that it could even be worse than Y2K.

    What causes this problem?

    The latest time since 1 January 1970 that can be stocked using a signed 32-bit integer is 03:14:07 on Tuesday, 19 January 2038. A computer system calculates the time in seconds from 1 January 1970, 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038 is comparable to 2,147,483,647 seconds after 1 January 1970. As 32-bit date and time systems can just count up to 2,147,483,647 distinct positive values the system cannot proceed to count the seconds past that time.

    To continue to count the seconds the values will begin to be stored in negative counting up from -2,147,483,647 to zero. But most systems will not be equipped to cope with this alteration and will potentially fail. Systems that function on future dates will be the ones confronting this problem sooner. Embedded systems that use dates for either diagnostic logging or computation are most likely to be impacted by the 2038 problem.

    Solutions for the problem?

    As of now, there is no certified solution for the Year 2038 problem, most operating systems nowadays are designed to run on 64-bit hardware, and using a 64-bit value introduces a new wraparound date that is approximately 292 billion years from now. In reality, all 32 bit Systems will naturally wear out and be replaced with the modern versions in the next 18 years. Only those systems which won’t be changed will need changing ahead of time.


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