Super Computer Built from Raspberry Pi Boards and LEGO Bricks

It was only a matter of time before someone chained together dozens of Raspberry Pi boards into a serviceable super computer; read on to see how a team of Southampton scientists built a 64-core machine using them.

Image courtesy of Simon Cox and the University of Southampton.

From the University of South Hampton press release:

Professor Cox comments: “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.”

The racking was built using Lego with a design developed by Simon and James, who has also been testing the Raspberry Pi by programming it using free computer programming software Python and Scratch over the summer. The machine, named “Iridis-Pi” after the University’s Iridis supercomputer, runs off a single 13 Amp mains socket and uses MPI (Message Passing Interface) to communicate between nodes using Ethernet. The whole system cost under £2,500 (excluding switches) and has a total of 64 processors and 1Tb of memory (16Gb SD cards for each Raspberry Pi). Professor Cox uses the free plug-in ‘Python Tools for Visual Studio’ to develop code for the Raspberry Pi.

One our favorite components of the project, the programming handiwork that binds all the Pi boards together aside, is the LEGO casing. It’s great that Professor Cox’s elementary school age son James played such a large role in creating the modular LEGO-based server racks; he’s definitely a budding geek and future engineer in the making.

For more information about the project, including instructions on building your own Raspberry Pi-based super computer, hit up the link below.

Raspberry Pi Super Computer [via Boing Boing]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/13/12
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