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Engineers built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego

Date:
September 11, 2012
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
Computational engineers have built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego. The son of one of the professors (aged 6) provided specialist support on Lego and system testing.

Professor Simon Cox and James Cox (age 6). Computational Engineers at the University of Southampton have built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southampton

Computational Engineers at the University of Southampton have built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego.

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The team, led by Professor Simon Cox, 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.

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.

Professor Cox adds: "The first test we ran -- well obviously we calculated Pi on the Raspberry Pi using MPI, which is a well-known first test for any new supercomputer."

"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."

James Cox (aged 6) says: "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 see: http://www.soton.ac.uk/~sjc/raspberrypi


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Engineers built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125106.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2012, September 11). Engineers built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125106.htm
University of Southampton. "Engineers built a supercomputer from 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125106.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

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