The iPad in Your Hand: As Fast as a Supercomputer of Yore

Dr. Dongarra, who is on the computer science faculty at the University of Tennessee and a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is one of the keepers of the Linpack computing benchmark, a linear algebra test that measures the mathematical capabilities of computers.

His research group has run the test on Apple’s new iPad 2, and it turns out that the legal-pad-size tablet would be a rival for a four-processor version of the Cray 2 supercomputer, which, with eight processors, was the world’s fastest computer in 1985.

To date, the researchers have run the test on only one of the iPad microprocessor’s two processing cores. When they finish their project, though, Dr. Dongarra estimates that the iPad 2 will have a Linpack benchmark of between 1.5 and 1.65 gigaflops (billions of floating-point, or mathematical, operations per second). That would have insured that the iPad 2 could have stayed on the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers through 1994.

How often are we going to hear this story?

I can't count how many variations of this story I have read over the years.

Yes, new tech is better then ancient tech. We all know this. My iPhone is more computing power than NASA had when we went to the moon. I get it. Moore's Law, yada yada yada.

How come, ever time a new piece of tech comes out, another uninspired journalist feels the need to remind us how much better it is than something from 25 years ago?

Why do they write it?

Because it's fun information to have. Because some people are new. Because we need to be reminded sometimes of the miracles around us. Because in the grand scheme of things, 25 years isn't all that long ago. And because, apparently, there are gremlins out there who like to bug people like you who apparently don't have a sense of wonder or a sense of humor. This is cool information. Keep reminding us!

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