Your USB-C charger is more powerful than Apollo 11’s computer

Anker USB charger Apple software developer Forrest Heller has written a blog post comparing the power output of today’s heftiest USB-C chargers and the computer on board Apollo 11. By his estimates, the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 USB-C Wall Charger is 563 times faster than the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer. But in NASA’s defense, the Guidance Computer was completely crash-proof.

I claim that we would only need the compute power of 4 Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 USB-C chargers to get to the moon with the following caveats:

  • The CYPD4225 is definitely not rated for space. I have no idea if it would work in space.
  • I did not examine the peripherals used by the Apollo 11 computers. The CYPD4225 has 30 GPIO signals and talks UART, I2C, and SPI. However, how many peripherals did the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer support? 100? 10? More Googling is needed. And probably the voltage levels from the 1960s are too high to connect to a CYPD4225.
  • Ron Burkey, Owen Smith, and others point out that the LVDC actually contains triply-redundant logic. The logic gives 3 answers and the voting mechanism picks the winner. So it may be fair to claim that you in fact need 3 USB-C chargers to compare against the LVDC. However, I think the redundancy was for reliability and I completely ignoring reliability. And in fact I think any attempt to emulate this voting scheme with 3x microcontrollers with a 4th to tally votes will not make the system any more reliable. But this is proving controversial and it may soon get its own full paragraph summarizing different viewpoints!

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