Cray 2 v iPhone XS: Fight!

Diego Doval
Dec 16, 2018 · 2 min read

How does the iPhone XS compare to the most powerful and expensive supercomputer from 30 years ago?

                       Cray 2 (1985)           iPhone XS (2018)Price (2017 USD)       > $30,000,000          ~$900Main Processors        4                      1 A12XMemory (RAM)           256 Megaword           4 Gigabytes* megaword -> a ‘word’ varies but the Cray-2 used 64-bit words with 8 bit parity checks                        Cray 2 (1985)           iPhone XS (2018)Storage (max)           ~32 GB*                512 GB* Max storage required 32 disk drives of 1.2 GB each                        Cray 2 (1985)           iPhone XS(2018)Peak Power Consumption  195,000 Watts         < 1 Watt**It’s very hard to compare peak power given iPhone has so many other functions, so let’s just go with < 1 W            
Cray 2 (1985) iPhone XS(2018)
Peak Performance 1.9 GFLOP * ~1 GFLOP**GFLOP = Billions of Floating Point operations per second
Cray 2 (1985) iPhone XS(2018)Relationship to liquid Liquid cooled* Waterproof-ish***Cooled with 3M Fluorinert - an electrically inert liquid
** iPhone XS is rated IP68: designed to be waterproof when submerged no deeper than 2 meters (roughly 6 feet) in water for 30 minutes or less.

Cray 2 (1985) iPhone XS(2018)
Weight 5,500 lb (2,494Kg) 128g (0.3lb, 0.14Kg)Volume 1.8 cubic meters ~0.007 cubic metersHeight 45 in (1.2 m) 5.8 in (0.16 m)Width 54 in (1.4 m)* 3.05 in (0.075 m)* the cray-2 was cylindrical in shape, so the ‘width’ is really its diameterALSO, the iPhone also has 2 cameras, GPS, Celular, Wifi, Bluetooth, A DISPLAY with over 2.7 MM pixels, a battery that lasts a day. A compass. A 3-axis Gyroscope. Speakers. An Accelerometer. Ambient Light and proximity sensors. A Barometer. A Microphone. It can record 4K video. It can take 8MP photos while recording 4k video. NFC. iBeacon.

Talk about a jetpack. :-)


Diego Doval

Written by

Avid reader, occasional writer. Drexel CS Alum, Trinity College Dublin PhD CS. Previously CTO & CPO at Ning, Inc. Now building n3xt! (

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