back to article New guide: Bake your own Raspberry Pi Lego-crust cluster

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 …

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Excellent! I've been wanting to tinker with MPI on a 5-Pi Punnet for a while, so this will come in handy :)

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I always wanted to build a web server using a cluster of Pi, but turned out after reading a few things online it's less than satisfactory. Instead I'm waiting for the Ouya, sure it costs 3 x more, but it has twice the RAM, and four times the cores. I figure what I would have spent on Pis, I can grab four Ouya, and use a pair of Pi for load balancing.

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"Instead I'm waiting for the Ouya..."

For a few bucks more you don't have to wait. An Odroid X carries Samsung's quad core Exynos 4412 and goes for $129. Sure the $40 shipping from Korea stings a little bit but it goes down per board when you get multiples. The ones I ordered took about two weeks to deliver, now I just need a free weekend to play with them.

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My Pi

Is still in the box, because I can't think of anything to use it for.

I need a better imagination!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My Pi

At the very least find a mame port, blu-tack to the back of the tele and play pac-man.

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FAIL

Re: My Pi

he can`t have ordered them from rs , :)

13 weeks and still waiting but ONLY another 4 to go (or so they say ) :)

but its not like we have already paid for them .........oh hang on

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Re: My Pi

XBMC for Pi (Raspbmc). They are small enough to put inside your TV.

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Re: My Pi

Ha! CPC tweeted this morning that they've got stock.

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Unhappy

Re: My Pi

Me too! Is it this guy using up all the available stock that stopping me from receiving my Raspberry Pi?

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Re: My Pi

Have we gotten to the point where a $35 computer can play mame games without massive frameskipping? I've been out of the mame scene for a while. Years ago, I built my own arcade control box (with movable buttons and joysticks) that plugged into a computer (hacked keyboard). it would be cool as hell if I could put the whole computer in there too!

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FAIL

Re: My Pi

Got mine in the first batch. Lost it within a week. Think I threw it out.

Oops

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Re: My Pi

Apparently it will do some of the older mame games, but then again, you need a lot of beef to play the latest ones. The point of the mame project is accurate emulation rather than playability after all.

I got mine a few days after ordering from Farnell. Got it last week and it's now running OpenVPN through my router, so I can get into my home network when I'm out and about. It's got a 32GB flash card in it, which is plenty, and I can also wake up my other computers using WOL. Just need to get rsync up and running.

I was hoping to connect an old web cam to it but it draws too much current. Might try a powered hub but I expect a more modern web cam would make more sense.

I've always used Slackware and it seems to work fine on the Pi.

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Genius..

I was wondering when someone would cluster the PIs, buut using Lego as a cluster rack just makes the project a whole let better..

Well done!

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Coat

Re: Genius..

I can remember when that support would have been made out of Meccano.

And there would have been lots of brass gears....

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Holmes

Jolly Good! How fast/powerful is it though?

Are there any reg-standard benchmarks to compare it with?

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Boffin

I don't think there's a reg has a supercomputer benchmark yet (I'm thinking a good measure of FLOPS is the "facebook IPO"), but 72 teraflops would have qualified as a supercomputer as recently as 2007 or so (the Cray XT4 was about this fast). It's certainly nothing special now in terms of performance - a modern xeon workstation would be a couple of orders of magnitude faster at least - Moore's law does horrible things to 5 year old technology.

Still, really cool, and the lego processor rack is nifty.

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Stop

Think you're a little confused....

the 72TFl/s machine is the Iridis supercomputer at Southampton Uni, not the pi cluster. 72 is well in top500 range and _definitely_ a supercomputer.

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FAIL

Well, crap!

Yeah, I made all sorts of mistakes here. I thought the 72TF number was the measured speed of the pi cluster.No speed number is given, as you say, that's the speed of their locally-built supercomputer.

And then I got giga and tera reversed in my head when I was trying to fit the speed on the top500 list, and divided the speed by a thousand, oops! 72TF would be about 415th on the top500 list, and about 3 orders of magnitude faster than a modern xeon workstation. Never mind!

The only reason I'm not withdrawing the original message is that I think "facebook IPO" as a measure of FLOPS is still pretty finny.

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Boffin

@Pet Peeve

I don't think there's a reg has a supercomputer benchmark yet

I propose the 'Speccy'.

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Go

Re: Well, crap!

According to the rasberry pi forum one board manages 26 GFLOPS... So 64 would be 1.7 TFLOPS if it scaled perfectly. I also think that is including the GPU horsepower so translating that to real world performance and distributing across a cluster would not be easy.

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Windows

Please, don't measure intelligence in FLOP's

Reminds me too much of an old, historical Finnish phone company....

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FAIL

Re: Well, crap!

Would it have been too much for the "Journalist" to ask Professor Cox for this figure ?

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Re: @Pet Peeve

i counter the 'jordan at 40' cos that will deffo be a terror flop when she whips em out

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I'm thinking a good measure of FLOPS is the "facebook IPO"

^-- upvoted for this

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How many lego blocks..

hold it all together? This is important stuff El Reg!

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

...you could just link 4 quad-core Mac Minis with a 5-port gigabit switch, and have something which is smaller, more reliable, uses less power, and probably just as cheap once you've allowed for network switching and lego. But not as colourful.

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Re: Or...

Doubt it would use less power or perform parallel tasks better. A quad core is not the same as 4 different CPUs.

At least if one of the raspberry pi's dies , its pretty cheap to replace.

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Re: Or...

What? The pi uses less than 4 watts at full tilt, and a quad-core macmini uses 85 W

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3468

64 * 4 = 256 watts

4 * 85 = 340 watts

So your wrong :)

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Trollface

Re: Or...

If anyone wants to rack-mount Mac Minis for their enterprise applications, Lego seems perfectly suited to the task. Only black, white, and grey pieces mind.

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Facepalm

Re: Or...

It's a university. They are there to research and teach principles and techniques, not extract maximum performance.

Sometimes the point is is the doing, not the results.

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Trollface

Re: Or... @FreeTard

FYI

Should be "So you're wrong"

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Headmaster

One Pi is Pi

What is the plural of Pi,

I vote for Pice (better than Pis IMO) Raspberry Pis sounds more like something you get after eating too many beetroot.

likewise should the collective noun be 'a circle'?

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Re: One Pi is Pi

The collective noun for Raspbery Pies is a punnet.

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Joke

For me, more than one Raspberry is

Dessert :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One Pi is Pi

I thought a cluster of Pi's was going to be called a bramble? - that seems to be the most common term.

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Headmaster

Re: One Pi is Pi

To be pedantic, a bramble is a cluster of blackberries. I suppose a cluster of raspberries is a "cane", but it's not a very inspiring name.

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Re: One Pi is Pi

Pixen.

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Happy

Re: One Pi is Pi

Pies.

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Re: One Pi is Pi

I suppose a cluster of raspberries is a "cane", but it's not a very inspiring name.

You could refer to a cluster of raspberries on canes as a "brake", from "canebrake". That's roughly equivalent to bramble. "I'm doing the decoding with a brake of 8 Pies."

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Pint

Nothing to say really...

...just raise a pint to those profs at Southampton Uni (from the Hobbit pub). Excellent.

Perhaps the Pi can be used as the standard unit of super-computing performance?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing to say really...

@Skizz

The Hobbit? Wow, is it still going... Must be 15 years since I used to stop by there on a Friday night crawl! Is The Dungeon still going strong too?

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Pint

Re: Nothing to say really...

The Hobbit is still going, despite a legal threat from some US company that claims to have the rights for the name from Tolkien. They even set up a Facebook page to fight the injustice.

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Pint

Re: Nothing to say really...

...and here's a link to the relevant page, in case you feel like weighing in with your support...

http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheHobbitSouthampton

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Re: Nothing to say really...

From what I remember, they didn't get sued for the name. It was using pictures of Elijah Wood et al, taken from the LotR films, on their promotional material and menus.

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Holmes

Re: Nothing to say really...

> hey even set up a Facebook page to fight the injustice.

So they're doomed then...

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Very nice but what have they actually done with it? How fast is it?

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Great.. .but better ways to do the power...

I love this implementation, and the link to the UNI blog was a fantastic step-by-step on the IT install, and even some good pics to use as a Lego guide... :)

One thing I will say, is that for a group of techies, they really didn't get creative with the power supplies! That many power strips and each RPi getting it's own mains-connected adapter?

One fo the great RPi features is the simple, 5v DC power input... any old 5v will work when pinned properly to a proper USB cable... so I would believe that a single DC adapter capable of providing sufficient amperage at 5v would work fine...

The RPi, I believe, will demand up to 500mA... if that is the case, they would need to be able to provide 32A of 5v power... something that should be able to be done with at least just a few old PC power supplies, or even just 2 enterprise grade server power supplies from old servers... very little involved in splicing in the required octopus of cables needed for the multiple drops... but would be more efficient, for sure, and much less complex.

Cheers!

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Re: Great.. .but better ways to do the power...

I'm not sure if this is what you are referring to?

"The Debian GNU/Linux cluster runs off a single 13-amp mains plug"

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Re: Great.. .but better ways to do the power...

Scratch that, I just clicked on the link and saw the many multiplugs.. hah!

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