Google’s Record-Setting Pi Calculation Showcases The Rise Of Cloud Scientific Computing


In honor of Pi Day, Google announced today that one of its Developer Advocates had completed a record-setting computation of Pi to 31.4 trillion decimal places. On a technical front, the computation presents a fascinating look at the kinds of creative workflows achievable within the cloud, but more importantly, it reminds us how much the world of scientific computing has changed in the cloud era.

The calculation of Pi out to 31.4 trillion decimal places by Google’s Emma Haruka Iwao offers a powerful look at how the commercial cloud’s building blocks are being used in ever more creative ways to work around the traditional limitations of the physical hardware that underlies the computing revolution. The cloud’s separation of the traditionally tight connection between the hardware and software layers is both a performance detriment compared with bare metal access and a critical stability construct that makes possible the kinds of robust infrastructures that power our modern digital world or permit long-running scientific computations. Hardware failures are no longer even noticed by applications, which can live migrate indefinitely.

Perhaps most intriguing about Google’s demonstration is what it tells us about just how dramatically the computing landscape has changed over the past twenty years.

The cloud era has ushered in a world in which computing power is effectively infinite.
-Kalev Letaru, 2019

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