Computing power

So, today I ran this old gem on my phone, on ScummVM.

And I wondered just how much faster my phone is, compared to the speed of the PC I played this game on, in… 1990 I guess.

And WTF. I knew today’s stuff is a lot faster, but seeing the numbers is insane. It doesn’t feel right, like, if someone just was off by an order of magnitude or two. It is just unreal.

So let’s see.
MIPS = Millions operations per second
FLOPS = Floating point operations per second. Usually in MFLOPS or GFLOPS (M = millions, G = billions and so on)

My PC back then was an 80286 with a stunning 12 MHz and a MIPS claim of… two point six. 2.6 MIPS.
I can’t say a FLOPS number since it couldn’t do floating point operations at all. Damn. I don’t know enough about theoretical computer science to make an approximation if one would just use big numbers and shift them around.
So, I went and looked at the weakest comparable processor I could find that could do floating point operations, a (much faster) 80486/25. That one is at least four times as fast (in fact its MIPS claim is a stunning fifteen (15), so that’s six times faster) Its MFLOPS number is… wait for it… One. Literally. 1. Uno. That’s it. Cool. So let’s take this.

Edit: corrected some numbers.
Now, my Samsung Galaxy S9 has an Adreno 630 GPU (710 MHz)
Conservatively speaking the CPU alone should have a raw computing power of… somewhere between 200 and 300. GFLOPS. No, not MFLOPS. GFLOPS. With G.

The GPU/CPU (integrated) comes in at (conservatively computed according to my source) at least 720 GFLOPS.

So even if they don’t work perfectly together that puts my phone at something like 700 GFLOPS of raw computing power.

1 GFLOPS is 1000 MFLOPS.

So that difference between my old PC and my phone is… man, that’s… pulls out calculator … no wait… That’s a factor of…
700,000??? Seven-hundred-thousand??? (And that’s compared to the 80486, and not the 80286)
…so I don’t even exaggerate when I say that my phone is more than a million times faster than my old PC??

At which point did we enter the future? This is clearly the future.

(And please check my math, I did this mainly in my head so I might be horribly wrong)

Edit: did I mention that this is a phone? A PHONE!
It isn’t even a PC! A modern graphics card for 500 bucks would be fast enough to make the top500 super computer list of 2008 (not a joke, an RTX2070 can do 14 TFLOPS or so).

Have a good day, all you people of the future! :slight_smile:


So it’s… Over 9,000?


Yeah, it is ridiculous.
I just added in a small paragraph about a modern GPU. It blows the mind. Hard.

I am tempted to post a meme of John McEnroe yelling “You cannot be serious!”.

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I think there is an important lesson here in making do with what you have - or in our current state, not making use of it. Just because we have all this computing power doesn’t mean a program shouldn’t be designed to use as little as possible.

Your old programs will never suffer from too much CPU power!


Well… I played Wing Commander 1 on a 80486 and man that game was way too fast!! :smiley:

But yeah. Running some basic GUI like on Android would already kill any PC from ten years ago. It is ridiculous.



Your mention of top 500 supercomputers brought me to this page, and then I went and looked up what the best supercomputer in the world was when I was born. It was literally 100 times worse than an RTX2080Ti. I tend to think I am ‘not old’, bu these things give me a taste of what you older guys who played the first flight sims must feel like. Where did the years go?


Ooohh that looks like fun, great idea!

Mine is this one.

It is almost exactly 1000 times slower than my phone, LOL.


Cray -1 for me. I can’t find testing data for the Pixel XL so no clue what the order of magnitude would be.

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Early on in my career I wanted to work for SSI, the company Steve Chen formed after he left Cray. I was working at a company that made super mini-computers and was fascinated by the technology.
When I told my wife this she asked where it was. I said, Eau Claire, Wisconsin to which she said, “Cya…”
We stayed in south Florida for a while :slight_smile:


I found a benchmark, it puts the Pixel XL into a similar range as the Samsung S9.
Edit: found conflicting numbers for both the Snapdragon 821 (pixel) and the Snapdragon 845 (s9), but both are above 600 GFLOPS and below 800 GFLOPS.

Edit: it also seems like I have misread some numbers I used for my original post. The true numbers for my phone are probably a bit lower, more like 700 GFLOPS instead of 900, but still impressive.

Edit: and of course this is still ongoing.
There are already mobile phone processors in the works that easily exceed 1 TFLOPS.

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Just for laughs I tried to figure out what was the first PC I had that exceeded 1 GFLOPS.
It was the Pentium III, 1000 MHz that I got back in 2000, with 2 GFLOPS.
Its predecessor was a Pentium 400 from 1997 that could do around 400 MFLOPS.

Then I tried to figure out which PC of mine was the last one that gets beaten by my current phone.
It looks like a decent PC from 2010 (especially with a then current gaming GPU, as GPUs are much better in FLOPS) can beat my phone, but back then I still had my GeForce 9800 GT and that one loses.
So for me the answer is: the one from 2008 that I had until I bought a new one in 2013 (I didn’t play a lot of games that needed a fast PC during that time).

That means in 10 years our phones can run MSFS 2020.

Expensive standalone VR headsets in 7 years/ish.

Maybe Facebook is right.

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Unfortunately Moore’s law is starting to fail, at least for single cores. We don’t see these massive performance gains any more like we used to.

We didn’t notice as we were playing games on our phones and watching cats jumping into the box :wink:

Or doing just that on our phones is not the future yet :slight_smile:


My first computer, circa 1986. A Heathkit - with the Gunship keyboard overlay and a Falcon F-16 manual on the side -

Hey @Dark_Star - that is our desk!