Google Cloud just calculated the first 100 trillion digits of pi

In a new world record.
Brad Bergan
A computer rendering of the Greek letter "pi", with digits spiraling outward.Rawf8 / iStock

In 2019, Google Cloud calculated pi — the irrational number discovered thousands of years ago — out to 31.4 trillion digits. That was a world record. But then, in 2021, scientists from the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons tacked on another 31.4 trillion digits to the figure, raising the total to 62.8 trillion decimal places.

But now, Google Cloud has shattered the latest record, calculating pi out to an unprecedented 100 trillion digits, according to a press release.

Hold on tight.

How Google Cloud calculated pi to 100 trillion digits

This marks the second time Google Cloud has set a record for the number of digits of the mathematical constant. And the number of digits of pi calculated has tripled in only three years.

"This achievement is a testament to how much faster Google Cloud infrastructure gets, year in, year out," read the press release from Google Cloud. "The underlying technology that made this possible is Compute Engine, Google Cloud's secure and customizable compute service, and its several recent additions and improvements: the Compute Engine N2 machine family, 100 Gbps egress bandwidth, Google Virtual NIC, and balanced Persistent Disks."

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The program that executed the calculation of 100 trillion digits of pi is called y-cruncher v0.7.8, by Alexander J. Yee. The algorithm employed is called the Chudnovsky algorithm. The computing node involved is an n2-highmem-128 with 128 vCPUs and an 864-GB RAM.

The calculation itself began on Thursday, October 14, at 12:45 AM EDT in 2021, and ended on Monday, March 21, at 12:16 AM EDT, in 2022. That's 157 days, 23 hours, 31 minutes, and 7.651 seconds. It almost feels like a something a sci-fi android would say and do.

The storage size of this unconscionably large number is 515 TB of 663 TB available, with a total I/O of 43.5 PB read, 38.5 PB written, and 82 PB total.

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Showcasing Google Cloud's superior technology

Naturally, it takes a lot of computing power, storage, and networking finesse to make a calculation of this magnitude feasible. Google Cloud estimated the size of temporary storage needed to complete a calculation of roughly 554 TB. "The maximum persistent disk capacity that you can attach to a single virtual machine is 257 TB, which is often enough for traditional single node applications, but not in this case," read the press release.

In fact, the firm created a cluster of one computational node and 32 storage nodes — comprising a total of 64 iSCSI block storage targets. There's much to admire about Google Cloud's efforts in reaching a final solution for the first 100 trillion digits in the number pi. But this goes beyond the ancient Greek letter pi, and the number behind it. In finding it at this exhaustive length, the firm has proven how flexible its infrastructure is, enabling teams to push the envelope of scientific experimentation, while also showcasing how reliable its products are — what other hardware can carry out a calculation, continuously, for more than five months, and experience zero node failures? It's a wondrous world, and we're here for it.

This was breaking news about the most digits ever calculated for pi, and was regularly updated as new information became available.

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