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Apple iPad 2 As Powerful As 1985 Supercomputer

The Apple iPad 2 might just be a tablet but according to one expert who specialises in tracking performance in the sphere of super computers, the device could easily have rivalled one of the world's fastest supercomputers, the Cray 2, which was launched a quarter of a century ago.

The New York Times (opens in new tab) cites Dr Jack Dongarra, a researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and one of the guys in charge of the Linpack computing benchmark, the defacto test application that is used to determine the theoretical capabilities on any computer regardless of the platform.

His team found out that the iPad 2, which sports a dual core Apple A5 system on chip clocked at 1GHz, reached around 1.5 to 1.65 gigaflops, which would have meant that the tablet would have stayed on the top 500 list of the world's fastest computers until 1994.

The Cray 2 (opens in new tab) had a peak performance of 1.9 GFLOPs and that was with eight processors; it managed to stay on top for a whopping five years and had 256 million 64-bit words of RAM and a clock speed of around 260MHz.

With a list price of $17 million, the supercomputer is roughly 40,000 times more expensive than the iPad 2 which meant that rather than buying it outright, the computer had to be rented out on a per hour basis with prices starting from $140.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.