There’s sort of a guilty pleasure in seeing the ‘masters of the universe’ knocked down a notch or two. So the news that the record for calculating Pi, set by the T2K Open Supercomputer, was not just broken but broken by a lowly Core i7 machine was warmly received.
The feat was performed by Fabrice Bellard. He pieced together a system built around a Core i7 CPU running at 2.93 GHz, 6 GB of RAM, and five 1.5 TB Seagate Barracudas. His operating system of choice was the 64-bit version of Red Hat Fedora 10, along with a software RAID-0 and ext4 file system. He then started up a Pi algorithm based on the Chudnovsky formula and let it rip. One hundred and three days later he had Pi calculated out to 2.7 trillion decimal digits, blowing by the old record of 2.5 trillion decimal digits. The resulting number took 1137 GB of storage space.
Bellard made use of this single CPU for the initial calculation, but did get some help from ‘friends’ when verifying his calculation. Using the Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe algorithm and a network of nine computers, he validated his result in 34 hours. (Using the PC would have taken 13 days–time Bellard didn’t want to use in case his record was broken before he got a chance to announce it.)
If you are curious, part of the result if available online.