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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 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.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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