I caught an interesting snippet over the weekend. With the latest Top 500 Super Computer list published, there has been lots of talk about whether Linpack is the best way to measure how powerful computers really are.
This prompted Steve Wallach to say…
“we could get 100,000 [Android phones], hooked up together, and we would have the world’s fastest Linpack that no one could exceed for a long time.”
What a thought! Would it be possible to organise a flashmob – albeit a humongous one – to create the world’s first Android powered super-computer? My mind started spinning. With the number of Android phones sold per quarter now exceeding Apple and gaining fast on Nokia – how long before a moderately sized group of people could gather and call themselves one of the 500 fastest computers in the world?
Hang on! What’s a TFlop?
A “FLOP” is, quite simply, a measure of how many mathematical operations a computer can make per second.
A TerraFLOPS is 1,000 GigaFLOPS which is 1,000 MegaFLOPS which is 1,000 KiloFLOPS which is 1,000 FLOPS.
So, 1,000,000,000,000,000 mathematical operations per second.
How Fast Are Android Phones?
Here’s a screenshot of my Google Nexus One.
Ah… Do I have a particularly slow phone? No, not really.
Linpack holds top 10 speed records for a variety of devices. The highest a normal Android device can get is usually under 60 MFLOPS. Some overclockers have managed to crank their devices to 90 MFLOPS and one has got up to 250 MFLOPS.
The least fast computer in the top 500 rates at 31.11 TFLOPS – which is 31,110,000 MFLOPS.
Even at 100 MFLOPS per phone, we would need to hook together 311,100 Android phones to get within a sniff of the Top500 Super Computer list. A few more than can comfortably fit in Trafalgar Square.
Moore’s law states that we should see a doubling of computer power in the next 18 months. So, if we could get 105 thousand Android users gathered together with a brand new “Nexus 3” running at 300MFLOPS – we’d just about edge into the top 500. Although that assumes that there were no new entries!
So, come on Google! How about that for an Android event? Over a hundred thousand Android users gathered in one place to set a super-computing record. That would be awesome!