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IBM Takes Pi to the Billionth Decimal Digit


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LionKiller avatar
Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 23:14
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Blue Gene/P, an IBM supercomputer designed to continuously run at 1petaFLOPS, has found the billionth decimal digit in pi, according to a report by The Australian IT.

The calculation has long been considered impossible to complete; some have estimated that it would have taken a single CPU 1,500 years. But IBM's Blue Gene/P solved to the billionth decimal digit in just a few months, working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and IBM Australia.


Reaching the billionth decimal digit of pi could help technologists and mathematicians because they can use the equation to create random number sequences. Random numbers are a driving force behind computer security, including everyday consumer-level protections, like in electronic banking.

IBM's Blue Gene/P has been impressing computer experts, mathematicians, and scientists since it was unveiled in 2007. It's a second-generation machine, designed through a partnership between IBM, LLNL, and Argonne National Laboratory's Leadership Computing Facility. In 2009, President Barack Obama recognized IBM for its achievements with Blue Gene and awarded it the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the most prestigious award in the United States given to leading innovators for technological achievement.

Blue Gene/P is at least seven times more energy efficient than any other supercomputer, according to IBM literature, "because it uses many small, low-power chips connected through five specialized networks. Four 850 MHz PowerPC 450 processors are integrated on each Blue Gene/P chip. The 1-PFLOPS Blue Gene/P configuration is a 294,912-processor, 72-rack system harnessed to a high-speed, optical network. Blue Gene/P can be scaled to an 884,736-processor, 216-rack cluster to achieve 3-PFLOPS performance. A standard Blue Gene/P configuration will house 4,096 processors per rack."

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