Researchers Build Supercomputer from Legos and Raspberry Pi

In a twist on the usual use for the tiny Raspberry Pi computers, a team of computation engineers have built a supercomputer by linking together 64 of the devices and then housing it in a rack made from those little plastic blocks we all know and love.

The team at the University of Southampton, led by Professor Simon Cox, built the system for under £2,500 (~$4000), and see it as "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 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." - Cox

In homage to the University's supercomputer (named Iridis), the new system is called Iridis-Pi, and features 64 processors and 1Tb of memory (using 16Gb SD cards for each Raspberry Pi). The device uses the MPI (Message Passing Interface) to communicate between nodes, and the software was developed using the free tools Python and Scratch.

And if building a supercomputer out of a series of $25 Linux boxes wasn't cool enough, the racking system for it was built from Legos, from a design developed in part by Cox's 6 year old son James.

The team has published a free guide to enable others to build their own version of Iridis-Pi, available here: Raspberry Pi Supercomputer.

Researchers Build Supercomputer from Legos and Raspberry Pi
A team of engineers at the University of Southampton built a supercomputer using Legos and 64 Raspberry Pi computers.

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