For some time, Tom Rokicki has been working on lowing the upper bound for the face-turn metric of the Rubik’s cube. His main work (finished in Feb or March 2008) is described in http://tomas.rokicki.com/rubik25.pdf. More recently, John Welborn came up out of the blue and offered Tom CPU time on the “farm” of computers which Sony Imageworks uses to render animated movies. As a result of this generous offer, Tom was able to extend the same method used in the 25-move upper bound to show: in the face turn metric, every position can be solved in <=N moves, where N=20,21,22 (which one, we don’t know yet).
Recently, New Scientist ran a short article on Tom’s result. Here is the link, though the full article requires a subscription: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/fundamentals/mg19926681.800-cracking-the-hardest-mystery-of-the-rubiks-cube.html .
Please see Herbert Kociemba’s cube
performance page for more info.