Infineon chips helps to solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle in record time
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At electronica 2016, the International Trade Fair for Electronic Components, Systems and Applications, the machine ‘Sub I Reloaded’ solved the Rubik’s Cube in 637 milliseconds. The trade fair was held in Munich, Germany, from 8 to 11 November 2016.
The microcontroller AURIX, from Infineon Technologies, a world leader in semiconductor solutions, also contributed to the record-breaking effort. One of the world’s most powerful microcontrollers, AURIX is also an essential element that enables autonomous driving.
For the Rubik’s Cube, it helped to achieve the best time in the approximately 30 years that have passed since the Hungarian Ernó Rubik invented the puzzle. It takes a human at least 4.9 seconds to solve the puzzle. This is the best time recorded by a so-called ‘speedcuber’ and listed in the Guinness World Records.
Each of the six faces of the cube has nine squares that can be turned in opposing directions. The objective is to rotate the faces until all the squares on each of the faces are of the same distinctive colour. More than 43 quintillion combinations of the coloured squares are possible.
It takes tremendous computing power to solve such a highly complex puzzle with a machine. In the case of Sub I Reloaded, the power for motor control was supplied by a microcontroller from the AURIX family, similar to the one used in driver assistance systems. Minimal reaction times play an even greater role in autonomous driving. A high data-processing rate is necessary to ensure real-time capabilities with clock frequencies of 200 MHz. As a result of this ability, a vehicle can safely and reliably apply the brakes when it approaches a barrier.
Sub I Reloaded contains a number of other microchips. Like most devices that are used every day, they link the real and digital worlds.
The attempt started with the press of a button. The shutters of the sensor cameras were removed. The machine then detected the position of the elements. These had been previously scrambled, in accordance with the special requirements of the World Cube Association. The computing chip, or the ‘brain’ of the machine, figured out the fastest solution and transmitted the necessary commands to the power semiconductors. These ‘muscles’ then activated six motors, one for each side of the cube, at record speed and then brought them to a halt – all within the fraction of a second.
Every Rubik’s cube can be unscrambled with just 20 movements. A variety of algorithms can be used to solve the puzzle, the most well-known of which is the Fridrich Method. But Infineon’s constructor Albert Beer did not design his prodigy with the fewest moves in mind. Rather, he was intent on achieving the best time – he even allowed the Sub I Reloaded a few extra moves to reach this goal.
Featuring an AURIX microcontroller, one of the world’s most powerful minicomputers, Sub1 Reloaded managed to solve a Rubik’s Cube within 637 milliseconds, the best time recorded for solving the puzzle, since its invention 30 years ago.
Republished with permission from The Singapore Engineer, December 2016.