Pi Eating Champ Does His Digesting with GPUs

by Bob Sherbin

There are some 400 technical talks lined up for next week’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC), but few will be as topical as Ed Karrels’.

The Santa Clara University researcher announced today – on Pi Day, which corresponds with 3/14 on the calendar – that he’s just broken the record for calculating pi, taking the classic ratio to eight-quadrillion places right of the decimal.

Spreading the job across three sets of computers running NVIDIA GPUs, Karrels calculated the ratio over the course of 35 days. Before Karrels’ work, the previous record for calculating pi was held by a team from Yahoo, which used a cluster of 1,000 CPU-only computers and 23 days to compute it to two-quadrillion places.

Ed will be speaking at GTC on Tuesday at 2pm. He’ll briefly explain the math behind this achievement, the programming tricks he used for speed up, and the logistics of doing supercomputing on a budget.