Nvidia shows how to build a Raspberry Pi server cluster


The Raspberry Pi is better known as arguably the world’s most popular single-board computer but chip maker Nvidia has revealed the design for a simple but effective Raspberry Pi server cluster.

The design, created by Nvidia’s HPC systems engineer Adam DeConinck, takes five Raspberry Pi Model B boards and matches them to an eight-port switch. Power comes from a powered USB hub capable of providing 5VDC@700mA per Pi.

While all five Raspberry Pi boards are just running the latest version of the Raspbian Linux operating system designed specifically for these devices, DeConinck also used the open-source Ansible tool to automate setting up the systems software on each ‘server’. His ‘playbook’ (scripts) tools for Ansible are available on GitHub, which includes a README file with more information on installation and setup.

The main method DeConinck used was creating a cluster where four of the Pis acted as ‘compute’ servers or ‘nodes’ while the fifth acted as ‘head node’. He also used static IP address for all plus an additional DHCP address for the head node. His idea was to run the cluster in ‘standalone’ mode but still have the server reachable from the rest of the network through the DHCP link to the head node.

The GitHub folder houses scripts for setting up the head node and compute nodes using Ansible.

As for the very technical nature of the cluster housing, he’s quite happy to suggest using LEGO. However, no doubt there’ll be an STL file for a modular 3D printable design appear on Thingiverse in the not-to-distant future you’d expect.

The Raspberry Pi is a $25 single-board computer based on a 700MHz Broadcom BCM2835 applications processor running with 512MB of RAM and integrated Fast Ethernet port. The software system for the board has come a long way since its launch in early 2012 and now includes the Raspbian Linux operating system, which incorporates full floating point hardware acceleration (armhf) for greater performance. The board can also be overclocked to 1GHz relatively easily and with factory backing to deliver greater system speed.



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