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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 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.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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