Can the ship perform more calculations per second since it is much larger and is not confined to the size of an average human? Or is the ship actually a distributed network of many computers specialized for specific tasks, thus making the two difficult to objectively compare?

  • 2
    Enterprise has more storage, but Data is better at Computation.
    – user931
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 16:32
  • 4
    I didn't think we allowed Mac vs. Windows questions. ;) Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 19:38
  • 2
    There is no direct comparison of Data's computational capacity and the Enterprise's. Trust me, I looked. The closest comparison we could find was to Voyager's computation capacity and data wasn't even in the same league. Data is powerful but Voyager' neural network left him in the dust. Take a look at The Moriarty Problem for the comparison. Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 21:40
  • 9
    Voyager's computer was capable of 575 trillion calculations per NANOSECOND (or the equivalent of 575,000,000,000 petaflops per seccond), compared with Commander Data's rated processor speed of 60 petaflops per second and the estimated Human brain comparison of 2.2 billion megaflops per second. (REF: Fischetti, Mark. "Computers vs Brains" Scientificamerican.com. N.p. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.) Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 21:41
  • 1
    @Solo "Enterprise has more storage, but Data is better at Computation." So the computer has more data, but Data is better at computing? Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 0:16

5 Answers 5


Interestingly, there is an episode where the ship and Data directly interact with one another on a digital scale - A Fistful of Datas.

In this episode, Georgi and Data attempt to connect Data to the Enterprise's main computer, so that in the event of an emergency Data could take full control of the Enterprise.

Their experiment goes remarkably well, until Data tries to access the ship's secondary systems. Data detects an overload in his positronic matrix and shuts the experiment down, but the damage is done in the form of a Texas-Talkin' Data, as well as Data being represented in several parts of the ship (most notably, as several characters on the Holodeck).

Up until that point though, Data was able to access individual parts of the system and operate them. The sudden surge, however, suggests that some systems may be too complex for him to handle. And the fact that he was accessing systems one at a time also lends credit to suggest the Enterprise's computer is larger and more complex than Data's brain can handle all at once.

This may also indicate a limit on Data's ability to multi-task as well as the ship computer, or that there is simply an incompatibility between the two. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell, because the series does not do a particularly deep analysis into the ship's data processing power.

  • 3
    or that the ships systems where to crude for data's brain to handle.
    – Himarm
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 17:06
  • 5
    I think, if anything, the incident seems to indicate that the ship's computer has a greater ability to multi-task than Data's positronic brain does. That doesn't necessarily indicate computing ability as much as... well, I guess we'd call it "thread capacity" or "bandwidth".
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 17:46
  • 4
    The thing is, they wouldn't have attempted to do the experiment, especially using their second officer as a Guinea pig, if they hadn't done the math first. They must have had a reasonable expectation that it would work. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 16:40
  • 1
    @JohnSensebe You'd think that, but you'd also think they would review basic societal protocols before visiting alien planets, and they never do. (realistically, they probably didn't have any means to measure the impact, because Data's own brain is so unique in this universe).
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 13:06

In TNG S03E06, "Booby Trap," Geordi suggests that not even Commander Data could perform as many adjustments per second as the ship's computer (in the form of a holographic projection of one of the original Enterprise's warp core designers).


Regarding Voyager's secondary processor, 575 trillion calculations per nanosecond is actually 575,000 exaflops - with each of these 575,000 exaflops about equivalent to a human brain. In contrast, with 60 petaflops (0.06 exaflops), Data's positronic brain would only be about the equivalent of one mouse brain.

Note from wiki:Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion (i.e. a quintillion) calculations per second. Such capacity represents a thousandfold increase over the first petascale computer that came into operation in 2008.[1] (One exaflop is a thousand petaflops or a quintillion, 1018, double precision floating point operations per second)..., and Exascale computing would be a significant achievement in computer engineering, as an exascale computer would have processing power on the order of the estimated processing power of the human brain at the neural level (although the functional power required to simulate a human brain might be lower).

  • 1
    Is this a quote from somewhere? Or what's your source?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 6:40

I am sure that I remember reading in the ST tech manual that all federation ships central computer processor core are held inside of a static warp bubble (hence making them FTL processors), secondary interface sub systems run at less than FTL, (pads control panels etc)


It was mentioned on Voyager by its own computer that it has transluminal processing. This implies from the wording alone that the main computer processor is FTL based...

And since most (or practically all) technology on a Federation ship is subspace based, even computers would effectively be using subspace principles.

It never made any sense that the Federation was unable to create its own Androids. Heck, given the rate of exponential progression, androids with more processing power than Data will be possible shortly in reality... Star Trek missed the mark on 'exponential development' aspect especially when it had various aliens for example being better at translation than it... that's just impossible. No organic entity would be able to process things faster than a computer... a computer simply needs a proper set of algorithms to work with... and while those used in Trek seemed advanced, they also seemed outdated in comparison to the hardware's capabilities.

  • This barely seems to answer the question
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 21:48
  • 1
    Directly from Voyager: TAU: Computer, tell us your technical specifications. COMPUTER: Simultaneous access to forty seven million data channels. Transluminal processing at five hundred seventy five trillion calculations per nanosecond. It's not a big stretch to think 'transluminal processing' means FTL and subspace based... or essentially, faster than light. Similar wording is exacted in Trek FTL terminology for Transwarp (indicating 'faster than warp'). Don't understand which part of my answer merits -1
    – Deks
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 22:05
  • Because you've not answered the question asked.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 8:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.