According to a fascinating story in the New York Times’ “Bits” blog, the iPad 2 has the processing power equivalent to a “ four-processor version of the Cray 2 supercomputer,” which was the fastest computer in the world back in 1985. And we know this mind-boggling fact thanks to the work of Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist at the University of Tennessee, who keeps an eye on the world’s 500 fastest computers, and is one of those in charge of the Linpack computing benchmark, which measures the mathematical power of computers.
The New York Times says that Dr. Dongarra and his team of researchers have just submitted the iPad 2 to the test and found it equal to the aforementioned Cray 2 supercomputer from 1985. Dr. Dongarra also found that the iPad 2 is approximately 10 x as fast as the original iPad, probably because of design changes made to the iPad 2’s microprocessor.
According to the NYT, the test has so far only been run on one of the iPad 2’s microprocessor’s two processing cores, but Dr. Dongarra estimates that the iPad 2’s Linpack benchmark will be between 1.5 and 1.65 gigaflops, which would have kept it on the list of the world’s fastest computers right up until 1994.
One nice bit of extra information about the Cray 2 supercomputer from the NYT: it was kept in an aquarium-like structure, because it was cooled by being immersed in Flourinert, and it was nicknamed “Bubbles!”
Source: The iPad in Your Hand: As Fast as a Supercomputer of Yore - NYTimes.com