Zero

In case you missed it, last Thursday was an important date for the history of computing. To understand why, we need to look way back. What was the most famous supercomputer?

Favorite of many lists is Cray-1, freon-cooled, C-shaped monster from 1975:

London_Science_Museum_by_Marcin_Wichary_-_Cray-1_(2289290787)

Brutally powerful for its time, it earned Seymour Cray a title “father of supercomputers”. First machine was so wanted that it caused a bidding war between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. This wicked supercomputer had vector processors capable of 160 MFLOPS connected to 8MB of memory.

Fast forward to the last week. Raspberry Pi Foundation announced model Zero, a shitty hobbyist computer size of a kiwi. It’s single core CPU barely makes 40 MFLOPS. But wait, it also has VideoCore IV GPU that has 24 GFLOPS peak performance! And MPEG-4 decoder/encoder. And 512 MB of memory. For all practical purposes, it makes Cray-1 bleed it’s own freon.

But here is the historic twist.

Raspberry Pi Zero was the first computer ever to be given for free on the cover of a magazine. In this case, MagPi issue 40, that completely sold out on Thursday:

40_cover_physical_small

So it took 40 years from a supercomputer worth $7.9 million ($31 million in today’s money) to a similar computer being given away for free, as a marketing stunt.

Makes you wonder what will happen in the next 40 years?

 

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