Raspberry Pi ‘supercomputer’ built at Southampton

Raspberry Pi computers have been used to build a supercomputer as part of an educational project by computational engineers at the University of Southampton.

The machine uses 64 Raspberry Pi compoter boards mounted in a rack built from Lego. The system has 1Tbit of memory (16Gbit SD cards for each Raspberry Pi).

It is called “Iridis-Pi” after the University’s Iridis supercomputer, runs off a single 13A mains socket and uses MPI (Message Passing Interface) to communicate between nodes using Ethernet.

The whole system cost under £2,500 (excluding switches).

“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,” said Team leader Professor Simon Cox.  

“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,” said Professor Cox.

The team consisted of Richard Boardman, Andy Everett, Steven Johnston, Gereon Kaiping, Neil O’Brien, Mark Scott and Oz Parchment, along with Professor Cox’s son James Cox (aged 6) who provided specialist support on Lego and system testing.

“The team wants to see this low-cost system as a starting point to inspire and enable students to apply high-performance computing and data handling to tackle complex engineering and scientific challenges as part of our on-going outreach activities,” said Professor Cox.

Six year oid James Cox said: “The Raspberry Pi is great fun and it is amazing that I can hold it in my hand and write computer programs or play games on it.”

If you want to build a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer yourself

Tags: computers, design, Lego, Raspberry Pi

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