A comparitively humble desktop computer has successfully calculated pi to 2.7 trillion digits, 123 billion more than the previous record set by a supercomputer in August 2009. Since 1995, records for pi have been set by supercomputers, but Fabrice Bellard claims his method is 20 times more efficient.
Gizmag reports that using a Core i7 running at 2.93GHz, with 6GB RAM and a 7.5TB of hard disk space, it took 131 days and over a terabyte of disk storage for Febrice Bellard to complete and check the record of 2,699,999,990,000 digits.
So how long is that number? According to the BBC, if you were to recite one number every second, it would you over 49,000 years to reach the end.
Although the previous record, set in August 2009 by Daisuke Takahashi at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, took just 29 hours to complete, it was done using a supercomputer 2,000 times faster and considerably more expensive than the desktop computer used by Bellard.
Calculating the digits of pi is about more than just setting records however. Ivars Peterson, director of publications at the Mathematical Association of America, told the BBC, "People have used it as a vehicle for testing algorithms and for testing computers; pi has a precise sequence of digits, its exactly that, and if your computer isnt operating flawlessly some of those digits will be wrong.
"Its more than just for the fun of it - pi is a way of testing a method and then the method can be used for other purposes."