10 record-breaking achievements in tech

The fastest, the lightest, the largest and the most viewed

IBM Roadrunner

Fastest runner, tallest building, fattest man – who cares about any of that when there are world records of technology just waiting to be broken?

Some of these records have stood for eons, a few are broken just about every year.

The greatest tech advancements are all about faster speeds and higher capacities, proof that the highest accomplishments of man are often silicon-based.

1. Largest wireless internet provider
DoCoMo in Japan, with 45 million subscribers
Guinness World Record: Yes, in 2006

In 2006, DoCoMO in Japan set – and has kept – the record for the largest deployment of wireless internet with 45 million subscribers. The service is called i-Mode, and is similar to the US Sprint closed network system that enables users to access a set number of web sites and check their usage plans.

2. internet land speed record
Record stands at 7.67 Gbps
Guinness World Record: No

This record, set in 2007 by the University of Tokyo, is interesting because it essentially maxed out the limit of a 10 Gbps connection, running at a real-world speed of 7.67 Gbps. The test requires that the participants use standard TCP/IP and a single IP address sent to another single IP address, so no clusters are involved. Since there are no higher 40Gbps network interface controller cards available yet, the speed test is essentially on hold until new hardware is available.

3. Largest virtualization deployment
Userful and ThinNetworks' 356,800 thin clients in Brazil
Guinness World Record: No

At just £30 ($50) per seat, the Userful and ThinNetworks deployment of 356,800 clients – which will be used for rural schools in Brazil this year – involves 18,750 workstations running thousands of desktop instances. Each workstation will run ten different clients in a classroom setting, with ten students using a screen, keyboard and mouse connected to a single thin PC. The deployment will save about 170,000 tons of CO2 emissions as well, and reduce power consumption by about 80 per cent. Impressive.

4. Most viewed internet concert
Madonna webcast on MSN in 2000 with 11 million virtual attendees
Guinness World Record: Yes

Way back in 2000, an online concert for Madonna attracted 11 million simultaneous visitors, even if it didn't attract a hugely positive reaction. The video ran on both MSN.com and MSN.co.uk. Today, online concerts are rare – they tend to cause server outages, congestion problems with ISPs, and mean a lot of frustration for fans.

5. Fastest desktop processor
Intel Core i7
Guinness World Record: No

The current record-holder for fastest processor is the relatively new Intel Core i7, running at 3.20 GHz and setting a record score of 117 in the SPECint_base_rate2006 test. It's the first CPU to perform better than a score of 100, and is ranked about 40 per cent faster than previous Intel processors. It's also worth mentioning that AMD broke a world record for the fastest overclocked CPU, with the Phenom II X4 running at 6.5GHz, cooled by liquid nitrogen and liquid helium.

6. Largest data warehouse
Sybase IQ analytics server
Guinness World Record: Yes, in 2008

The largest data warehouse in the world is the Sybase IQ analytics server running on a Sun SPARC Enterprise M9000, which holds one petabyte of input data. The data warehouse fits into just three server cabinets and emits about 500 tons of CO2 per year, compared to conventional data warehouses, which fit in about 30 cabinets and emit 5,000 tons of CO2. The data warehouse holds six trillion rows of transitional data and 185 million documents.

7. Highest capacity media switch
The Steelbox, used for surveillance, supports 512 simultaneous video feeds.
Guinness World Record: No

The Steelbox Digital Matrix Storage Switch 3000 can handle 512 simultaneous MPEG-4 video feeds at 1.5Gbps each – the device is used for video surveillance. The appliance, which fits in a data center cabinet, adjusts load balances automatically to make sure each stream stays smooth, handles multiple codecs, and can automatically change storage locations if a video feed taxes the appliance.

8. Fastest supercomputer
IBM Roadrunner
Guinness World Record: No

The fastest supercomputer in the world is part of the IBM Roadrunner project at the Los Alamos National Lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The supercomputer runs at 1.105 petaflops, or 444.9 megaflops per watt. For those keeping track of the top ten list, the Dawn supercomputer that went online this year at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in Livermore, California, debuted at the ninth position. When the 20-petaflop supercomputer at Livermore goes online in 2012 it will likely take the number one spot. To understand how fast a petaflop is: it's the equivalent of having every human on the planet perform 150,000 calculations every second. At 20 petaflops, each human would do 3 million calculations.

9. Lightest mobile phone in the world
Modu (modumobile.com)
Guinness World Record: No

Forget the iPhone, which weighs a back-breaking 135 grams. The Moduphone weighs just 40 grams and measures only 72.1 mm (2.8 inches) x 37.6 mm (1.4 inches) x 7.8 mm – making it the world's smallest mobile phone as well. The device has 2GB of built-in flash memory and a 1.3-inch screen.

10. Largest communications satellite
TerreStar-1 satellite
Guinness World Record: Under review

The largest communications satellite ever deployed is the TerreStar-1, launched this year. It will be used mostly for delivering a mobile broadband network. The satellite weighs nearly 7000kg and has an 18-metre antenna that transmits a signal on the 2GHz spectrum. The TerreStar-1 is also the largest satellite launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit, beating the ICO G-1 satellite launched in 2008.

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