Skip to comments.New guide: Bake your own Raspberry Pi Lego-crust cluster
Posted on 09/12/2012 10:41:32 AM PDT by ShadowAce
Scientists at the University of Southampton have built a "supercomputer" from Raspberry Pis lashed together to form a colourful data-cruncher.
Professor Simon Cox and his team racked up 64 credit card-sized Pis using Lego building blocks to create the parallel computer. They named their beast Iridis-Pi after the university's Intel-powered 72-teraflops supercomputer, Iridis.
Here's a photo of their very modest super in all its Pi-and-brick glory:
Back of the net: Ethernet cables running to Iridis-Pi's nodes
The cheapo cluster has 1TB of storage, thanks to the 16GB SD card inserted into each board, and 16GB of RAM. Each Pi is connected by 100MBit Ethernet, and is powered by a Broadcom BCM2835 graphics chip that handily features a 700MHz ARMv6 processor core.
A two-Pi unit from the Iridis-Pi 'supercomputer' (Pictures by Prof Cox)
The Debian GNU/Linux cluster runs off a single 13-amp mains plug, and uses the Message Passing Interface (MPI) protocol to manage the communications between each of the 64 nodes. Professor Cox wrote the control code in Python using Microsoft's Visual Studio.
Prof Cox estimated the whole caboodle cost under £2,500, not including the network switches.
The biggest challenge was sourcing enough Raspberry Pis to build the cluster: the tiny $35 computer sells out quickly after each batch is built. There are full details on rigging up two Pis into a block, and how to harness in a whole bunch, on the uni's website. El Reg notes this is not the first time Raspberry Pis have been cased in Lego.
Prof Cox said:
As soon as we were able to source sufficient Raspberry Pi computers we wanted to see if it was possible to link them together into a supercomputer. We installed and built all of the necessary software on the Pi starting from a standard Debian Wheezy system image and we have published a guide so you can build your own supercomputer.
It's not in danger of threatening IBM's Sequoia beast, the world's most powerful supercomputer, which delivers 16.32 petaflops of sustained performance running across 1,570,000 PowerPC cores. ®
I like pie. :p
Someday Lego’s will each have tiny chips and LED’s built into them and when you put them together interesting things will happen as they network.
It’s over 6 weeks and counting since I ordered a Raspi from Allied. At the time it was supposed to be in stock and shipping. Unofficial word is it MIGHT ship in late October, more likely November.
It’s so bad I’m considering ordering one from an Ebay source.
On reflection I should have ordered a dozen or so earlier, although there were limits on orders.
Patrick Norton got his back in July and was excited but hasn’t updated yet. Hmmmmm.....
BTW for non geeks Patrick is a tech journalist who has been around a long time. Old G4 Sceensavers, Digital Life TV and now mostly with Robert Heron and Veronica Belmont on Revision3’s Tekzilla.
He has been seen wearing a kilt/Utilikilt....yay!
Its over 6 weeks and counting since I ordered a Raspi from Allied. At the time it was supposed to be in stock and shipping. Unofficial word is it MIGHT ship in late October, more likely November.
Hmm. I was poking about over at Newark.com last night and they were claiming to have 100 in stock available for shipment.
I ordered mine from Newark back in late July and it only took a week or two to arrive.
Newark has had that up for about a week. If it’s still up Friday and I haven’t had a response from Allied I’m going to order. It would be very useful to have several anyway!
Hey, speaking of Linux.
What would be a good liveCD to have on hand if Ubuntu 12.04 suddenly goes wrong?
Is it true that a lot of people might partition their HDD and have an unregistered Windows on the second one for games or things that Linux doesn’t do?
I haven't used it in a while, though.
Does it have to be Ubuntu/Debian?
I have tried Puppy Linux and PCLinuxOS. But Ubuntu 12.04 seems awesome in comparison. I don’t think some of these other Linux O/S distro’s will even fit on a CD. I have also read on the forums that Linux Mint 13 is really good but it really stinks on a Livedisc.
I have also read that OpenSuSe or whatever its called is going to release a new version to rival the new Ubuntu and Linux Mint.
The weird thing is... I’ve been trying to get into the Star Trek New Voyages (or Phase 2) website and forums and it won’t even attempt to go there. Very weird. Not even their normal non-forum website will come up.
Non-Debian distros are typically RPM-based--though not all. RPM is a very different package manager than dpkg and could mess up your system even more if you have to install (or re-install) software during the rescue process. Directory structures are also slightly different, as well as what could be stored in the different directories.
I have not tried the Star Trek web site. Can you post a link so I can try it out?
BTW- The CD-DVD burner the Ubuntu 12.04 came with is crap, why didn’t they have it come with that other one, K3E or whatever its called?
LOL! That's the beauty of Linux--just install it. You'll probably also have to install some KDE libraries and qt stuff. The Ubuntu package manager or Software Center should have K3B listed, and it should take care of the dependencies as well.
Trivia--K3B is short for KBBB, which is short for K Burn, baby, Burn.
Which browser are you using?
RasPi is ~ 175 MFLOPS per unit (CPU only, discounting the GPU). So, this cluster works out to 11 GFLOPS, with 16GB of RAM for > $2500 USD. For comparison, you could buy a motherboard, 32 GB of RAM, and an Intel i5 processor for $500 that will do over 20 GFLOPS. So, it doesn't really stack up well from a price/performance standpoint. The value of these systems is more teaching students how to work with parallel code.More a tool for learning parallel processing than getting real work done. (Don't get me wrong: I'd do it myself if I could get my hands on that many RPis.)
Not quite. My i7 quad core 8G laptop can squeeze almost 17GFLOPS if I blank the screen and keep it idle while it's performing the task I want it to.
Heck, yeah! I think it'd be cool.
Firefox, and I have tried Chromium, Midori, Web and a bunch of others and got the same result.