Yesterday, Alexander Yee and Shigeru Kondo announced that they had set a new Pi world record, calculating it to five trillion digits—some 22TB of data—using a single custom built computer. The five trillionth digit? It’s a 2.
Kondo, a Japanese engineer, built the $18,000 machine, and Yee, an American computer science student, supplied the software: y-cruncher, a multi-threaded Pi program. The computation took 90 days in all.
But beyond setting the world record, what Yee and Kondo really wanted was to push the very limits of personal computing. Or, as they put it, to see “how much hardware can we cram into one machine and still make it faster?” Well Kondo said he was alone in his room, around midnight, when the five trillionth digit dropped, though his mother and wife, he said, showed “no particular feelings” about his achievement. They were really just curious about the five trillionth and first digit.