Talk about booth bait at a trade show: At the German “electronica” trade fair, a machine called Sub1 Reloaded solved a Rubik’s Cube in a mere 637 msec. with the help of microchips from Infineon. An Aurix microcontroller — also found in autonomous driving systems — handled the computational chores. The best time recorded for a human “speedcuber” to solve the puzzle is 4.9 sec.
The six faces of the cube each have nine squares of a color that can exist in more than 43 quintillion combinations. The same number of cubes could cover earth in 275 layers of cubes to height of 20 m.
Sub1 Reloaded contains a number of other microchips as well as cameras to detect the position of the cube elements. The cube faces move thanks to six six motors, one for each side of the cube, coupled to shafts via flexible couplings. The shafts touch each face at its center. A typical move, of course, takes mere fractions of a second and can’t be seen with the naked eye accept via slow-motion photography.
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 Sub1 Reloaded a few extra moves to reach this goal.