Southampton University computer engineers design the Iridis-Pi
The world's first ever supercomputer built from Raspberry Pi computers and Lego has been built by computer engineers at Southampton University.
While not quite on the lines of IBM's Sequoia, currently the world's fastest super computer, the Iridis-Pi built from 64 Raspberry Pis still has an impressive 1TB of memory.
The team at Southampton, led by Professor Simon Cox, connected the Raspberry Pis, with a 'Lego expert', six-year-old James Cox, designing the rack enclosure and helping to test the system using free computer programming software Python and Scratch.
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 Iridis-Pi, named after the University's Iridis supercomputer, runs off a single 13-amp mains socket and uses an 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 (16 GB 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 added: "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."
His son James obviously agrees and 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."
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