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These days even a desktop computer is capable of some extreme number crunching

Getting a lot out of a little is one of the most fascinating forms of enthusiasm in the tech community.  Whether it's squeezing Windows 7 onto a Pentium II dinosaur, or making a homebrew SNES handheld, such endeavors are truly intriguing.

Perhaps the latest and greatest wonder of hardware overachievement is the story of French native Fabrice Bellard, who now holds the world record in PI calculation.  He calculated Pi to 2.7 trillion decimal digits, surpassing mark of 2.5 trillion digits set in August by the T2K Open Supercomputer (which at the time was the 47th most powerful supercomputer in the world).

So what's so impressive about Mr. Bellard's feat, aside from its basic technical merits?  He accomplished the number crunching, not on a supercomputer, but on a Nehalem-powered desktop.

His machine featured a Core i7 CPU running at 2.93 GHz, 6 GB of RAM, and five 1.5 Terabyte Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 model hard drives (for a total of 7.5 TB).  The system ran the 64-bit Red Hat Fedora 10 distribution as its primary OS and used software RAID-0 and the ext4 file system.

The result takes up 1137 GB of storage and is (partially) available here.  The computation took 103 days of computing time for the modest desktop. 

The only time when Mr. Bellard had to enlist the help of other computers was during the verification.  In order to avoid being displaced from the top spot while the desktop chugged on the results (that would have taken an additional 13 days), he instead used a network of nine computers to verify the results in a shorter timespan.

In order to calculate Pi, Mr. Bellard used a software algorithm based on the well known Chudnovsky formula and verified the resulting calculations by the Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe algorithm which directly gives the n'th hexadecimal digits of Pi.  Checksums were used to detect errors.

The more optimized Pi algorithm based on the Chudnovsky formula that Mr. Bellard uses is the fastest current way to calculate Pi and has been renamed Bellard's formula in his honor.  Mr. Bellard is perhaps most famous for writing the tiny c compiler (tcc), a popular lightweight compiler in the Linux community.

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RE: Vive la France
By deanx0r on 1/5/2010 5:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
While I do laugh at some of the freedom fries jokes (as a French native), I don't understand the general disdain that the American public have for France. If anything, France is the U.S. oldest ally, even before we were a nation, and a cradle of western civilization.

I do enjoy some of the bickering we have with Britania tho, it's been going on for ages and is always a good source for jokes. Do the brits know that England used to be a French colony? ;)

RE: Vive la France
By HaB1971 on 1/5/2010 6:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
and France was an 'Italian' colony before that so your point is what exactly? who has the shorter memory?

RE: Vive la France
By deanx0r on 1/5/2010 8:13:59 PM , Rating: 3
LOL, I hope you are not taking everything too seriously. My comment was tongue-in-cheek if anything.

But if you want to get pertinent about this, I think you might want to refer ancient Gaul as a 'Roman' colony. But then again, Clovis of the Franks and various French peoples established themselves in northern Gaul way after the collapse of the Roman empire. So on this technicality, France is a far cry from being an 'roman' or 'italian' colony.

England on the other hand, has been ruled and colonized by French lords from William the Conqueror, the Angevins, the Normans to the Plantagenet dynasty for over three centuries. French used to be the official language of England too, and you can simply see that in the English motto: "Dieu et mon droit!".

The French are one of Europe's oldest civilizations. They faced many perils on their lands and won most of Europe's major wars. Yes, the French got their asses handed by the Germans in WW2. I think the surrendering monkey jokes are pretty funny, but believing in them is to ignore one of the oldest and toughest military traditions in the western world.

At the end, this bickering goes on with all neighboring nations (we particularly love to poke fun at the Belgians), and it is all for good laughs between european nations unlike the general U.S. resentment for the French.

RE: Vive la France
By Fritzr on 1/6/10, Rating: 0
RE: Vive la France
By wetwareinterface on 1/6/2010 8:42:37 AM , Rating: 4
the general disdain from america for our "allies" in france is simply this...

in the U.S. we are willing to drop everything and take up arms all to help the french.

in France they are willing to drop arms all to help the french.

RE: Vive la France
By gstrickler on 1/5/2010 8:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
It's because of the French (especially the French government's) disdain for everything that is not french. Stop disparaging the rest of the world and stop trying to be so separate and distinct and you'll see the disdain for France and everything French disappear.

RE: Vive la France
By deanx0r on 1/5/2010 8:47:21 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever been to France or contemplated French culture? Of course the French are proud people with a certain level of conservatism for their culture, but we also embrace U.S. culture and honour it within ours.

Political issues are all-together a different matter in my opinion. There have been some political sparks between both nations in the past 60 years mainly because the french government has a pretty loud mouth and prided themselves as being an military and political autarchism unlike some other puppet nations (cough Engl... cough). I mean, as a U.S. citizen, how would you feel if Mexico started to meddle with our political landscape or deploying their troops within our border (and gosh, in some way, they are already doing that LOL)?

Let me be clear on this: I only see this resentment of the French coming from the U.S and some of its vassal states, as a one-sided-affair.

RE: Vive la France
By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 4:31:15 AM , Rating: 1
There will always be a certain % of the population that will find an excuse to hate.

If the topic includes France it becomes a target. Same with the US in other countries, same with certain brands of cars, clothing, religions, etc, etc. It is a subjective flaw in realizing the sources of personal discontent for such people and it matters not what the topic is.

They'll ignore 100 positive facts and focus on a couple negative because they are practiced in selectively ignoring anything that does not prop up the idea that they and everything about them, is the center of the universe and that all the evil in the world is due to anyone who is not just like them.

RE: Vive la France
By grath on 1/5/2010 8:51:02 PM , Rating: 3
I don't understand the general disdain that the American public have for France

Say France and England had a bastard child named America. Neither is a good parent, and they both hate and compete with each other, using their child as a pawn to advance their own agendas. When the child hits adolescence and starts to get a little rebellious, her father tries to maintain his authority and her mother supports the rebellious activity. While this does benefit the child, it is also very driven by the self-interest of the mother. The child succeeds in achieving independence from her father, and the mother, following the example and taking advantage of the situation, goes crazy and tries to conquer a continent. Later in life, at the point where maturity dictates you forgive and maintain at least cordial relations with your parents, the child finds that she identifies far more with her father than her mother. So who would America dislike and resent more, her British father or French mother?

Theres also the whole World War thing when so many of our boys died in trenches pushing the Germans back out of your country, for you to then watch a genocidal maniac build a rampaging war machine next door to you, suffer epic failure at defending yourselves, so that we have to come back and do it again.

We also dont like when countries buy their warplanes from you instead of us.

RE: Vive la France
By deanx0r on 1/5/2010 9:50:04 PM , Rating: 5
I had a good laugh reading your metaphor (it was really good), but I am afraid our views are diverging when it comes to interpreting history books.

This bickering between Albion and lesser Britania is like an old couple's fight. France hated England so much at that time that they financially went kaput in their effort to help that bastard child. But then again, they went bankrupt because that bastard child never paid that debt (in monetary means) at that time.

I don't think the French at that time seeked to take over or profit over America. Or maybe the methodology in which they dealt with various indigenous peoples prevented them from a quick take over, unlike the British empire. The Arcadien settlements were quickly assimilated to the U.S., and France's children of Quebec were left defenseless to the Brits by a young republic facing European royalists.

From my point of view, I think this child named America grew up into a bully while rendering Great Britain into a vassal state. Something that France never approved of, despite being your oldest and most loyal ally.

As for WW2, the French were absolutely pathetic at defending themselves, but who wouldn't be when facing the war machine that Germany was at that time? Should G.B. or the U.S. share a land border with Germany at that time, their cities would run over by Panzers as well.

I concede it was a military defeat for the French, but I won't accept people calling the French cowards as a result of this defeat. They certainly weren't cowards in the Great War and wars that preceded them. The Vichy government may have collaborated with the Nazis at that time, but the French people never gave up the fight, and it was thanks to their Resistance and intelligence that debarquement day was a success.

RE: Vive la France
By diggernash on 1/6/2010 12:54:19 AM , Rating: 2
Being from the nation that Lincoln invaded and conquered, I have my own reasons for a grudge against France. However, like most other countries, the hot women contained within your borders overcome my political grudges.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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