Pi calculated to record number of digits

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A computer scientist reckons he's calculated pi to a record 2.7 trillion digits - on a PC.

The previous record - calculated on a supercomputer by Japan's Daisuke Takahashi last August - was a pathetic 123 billion fewer.

Computer scientist Fabrice Bellard  says he may go further. "It will depend on my motivation, and on the availability of new hardware with larger and faster storage," he yawns.

"I am not especially interested in the digits of Pi, but in the various algorithms involved to do arbitrary-precision arithmetic. Optimizing these algorithms to get good performance is a difficult programming challenge."

Open source fans will be pleased to hear that the software was based on Linux. The PC, says Bellard, cost less than E2,000 and was equipped with a Core i7 CPU at 2.93GHz, 6GiB of RAM and 7.5TB of disk storage.

Bellard plans to release Linux and Windows versions of the program he used, so that anybody with more enthusiasm can take the calculation a few billion digits further.