As difficult as a Rubik's Cube puzzle is to solve to a human, it might not seem like that complicated of a problem. We're talking about a mere 6-sided cube with 9 segments on each side. How hard could it be? Well, for humans, most people would take several minutes, but at least one dedicated solver can make it happen in just under 5 seconds. Surely a computer could be an order of magnitude better than that?
You'd be surprised. Infineon has just announced that with its AURIX microcontroller and its own processors, the Rubik's puzzle can be solved in 0.637 seconds, which is a new world record. Considering the fact that PCs can calculate hundreds of thousands of digits of Pi in a handful of seconds, it's interesting that this particular puzzle is so demanding.
Here's why: there are a total of 43 quintillion (let that sink in for a moment) different combinations of a Rubik's Cubes, or in other words, original states. If that number was converted into individual Rubik's Cubes, the entire planet would be covered with a staggering 275 layers, or roughly 20-meters high. What a puzzling world that would be.
As surprising as it might seem, Infineon isn't planning to sell Rubik's Cube solvers. Rather, the company is touting the enormous computing power of its products for use in the automotive industry - one that so many other companies have been dipping their toes into, including NVIDIA). The logic (no pun) is that if this mini PC can solve such a complex puzzle in well under a second, then it could bode well for being under our car hoods when quick decisions need to be made during autonomous driving.
Maybe Infineon could next tackle the problem of why so many people refuse to use their turn signal...