How Do NASA's Apollo Computers Stack up to an iPhone?

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    Here is a look at how modern smartphones compare with NASA’s Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), which helped get us to the moon and back in the ‘60s. If you want to cut to the chase, newer devices like the iPhone blow away what we had back then in terms of computational power, but the AGC still arguably has it beat in terms of reliability—it was designed to be completely crash-proof.

    Yes, the modern smartphone is more powerful than the computer used by NASA during the Apollo mission, but that overlooks how impressive the Apollo computers actually were. For starters, there wasn't just one computer, there were four. NASA's computers, specifically the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), were at least ten years ahead of their time from a commercial tech perspective—their strength unmatched until a decade later with the advent of computers like the Apple II. YouTuber Curious Droid works through the misconceptions and gets to how impressive these computers really were.
     
  2. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    man "cut to the chase" in deed... felt like an old documentary about how computers used to be made. TL;DW, the iphone is superior in every way except maybe a crash test... but then again you could put hundreds to maybe thousands of them (more so since you only need the guts) in the same space as backups, and what are the odds they all die on you?
     
  3. Alia Nexis

    Alia Nexis [H]Lite

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    It's not how much power you have, it's how you optimize it to do what you need it to.
     
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  4. cyclone3d

    cyclone3d [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Pretty good unless they are special made to withstand all the vibration of the craft taking off.

    I'd love to see a cell phone tested on a seismic testing setup. Testing on a single axis with a ton of harmonic vibration would be sweet. I'm pretty sure it would not survive.
     
  5. Bandalo

    Bandalo 2[H]4U

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    Space-hardening for electronics isn't just having backups. It takes time to switch between the primary and backup systems, and you'd hate to have that happen during a critical time.
     
  6. dj_spanmaster

    dj_spanmaster Limp Gawd

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    I don't have time to watch the whole thing. Does he eventually reference electromagnetic interference and shielding?
     
  7. otherweeb

    otherweeb Gawd

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    pfft! The NASA user interface was so cumbersome. Grandma would never figure it out.
     
  8. tunatime

    tunatime 2[H]4U

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    its amazing when you think about it. look how far we have come in 50 years just think what we they will have 50 years form now
     
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  9. JackNSally

    JackNSally Limp Gawd

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    1-10% IPC every year or two? /s
     
  10. katanaD

    katanaD [H]ard|Gawd

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    actually pretty good. chips that we send out to space currently are YEARS behind what you have sitting on your desk. I got to attend once years ago a "state of things" space conference at JPL and was floored by the level of CPU being used. when i inquired further, they stated that it takes many years to first harden for electromagnetic issues, then test in space before missions can start to use them.
     
  11. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Considering no more humans have been to the Moon and the country that did it can't even send people to space anymore......I'm kinda sad to think how we will waste away another 50 years.
     
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  12. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I expect the IPC improvements to end.

    Although hopefully some new materials are produced to replace silicon.
     
  13. [21CW]killerofall

    [21CW]killerofall Aliens...

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    I believe that the Apollo computers (all combined) were about as powerful as an original Game Boy. Just about anything that has a CPU made this century is more powerful than those computers.
     
  14. Romeomium

    Romeomium Limp Gawd

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    "12 amps? You can't even run a vacuum cleaner on 12 amps."
     
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  15. Dr. Righteous

    Dr. Righteous 2[H]4U

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    Don't think the Apollo astronauts were concerned about playing Candy Crush on their way to the moon.
    These comparisons are flat out stupid. There are huge differences in computer designed and built for single purpose applications and a "consumer device".
    Lets compare your Iphone with the ECM in your car. The car's "brain" runs on low clock speeds and has fairly low computing power. WHY, for such a modern computer?
    It is designed to be extremely fault tolerant and reliable,. Consumer computer products, (PC, laptop, smart phones, smart TVs, tablets, etc ) are NOT very fault tolerant at all!
    Every consumer computer item CRASHES at one time or another for some reason. This is not the case with embedded systems designed to be fault tolerant.