Modern USB chargers are "smarter" than computers in the Apollo 11 spacecraft

Forrest Heller, a software developer who previously worked on the Occipital mobile 3D scanner and is now an Apple employee, has published an interesting analysis. If we take the computing power of such simple modern devices as charging modules Google 18 W Pixel, Huawei 40 W SuperCharge or Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2, then it will be comparable to the resources of the onboard systems of the Apollo mission spacecraft. This is the result of technological progress over the past half century.

It is logical to expect that modern computers and their mobile counterparts, smartphones, will sooner or later surpass ancient systems, but simple charging? Comparing the AGC device, developed by NASA to automate control and navigation on board a spacecraft, and universal USB charging, at first glance, is simply ridiculous. On the other hand, they are similar in that they are not computers in the literal sense and perform only a narrow range of tasks using limited resources.

Lunar module Apollo 11

The AGC module was about a meter long, was one of the first systems with integrated circuits, did not have a separate processor, but was equipped with 5, 600 electronic gates capable of performing almost 40, 000 simple mathematical calculations every second. Its operating frequency was only 1.024 MHz versus 48 MHz for the Cypress CYPD4225 processor inside the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 charger. It also has twice as much memory, but there are no specific instruction sets. According to Heller, it is enough to reprogram just 4 charges from Anker to replace the old AGC and fly to the moon and back.

But there is one "but" and it is essential. Modern charging is unlikely to survive a fall from 10 m, while the AGC was designed to work with tens of "g" overloads. In addition, he could work in conditions of increased radiation and other problems that accompany a real space flight. Such consumer electronics, even the most modern ones, are not yet capable of.