The researchers, led by Simon Cox, connected 64 Raspberry Pi computers via Ethernet to create a supercomputer with approximately 1 terabyte of memory (each Raspberry Pi was fitted with a 16-gigabyte SD card).
The necesssary code for the supercomputer was written using the free plug-in 'Python Tools for Visual Studio'. Somewhat more unconventionally though, the racking was built out of Legos. It was designed by Cox with the help of his six-year-old son, James, who 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."
Of course, the supercomputer, which the team have named 'Iridis-Pi' in honour of the University of Southampton's Iridis supercomputer, is also capable of carrying out some pretty serious calculations. Professor Cox says: "The first test we ran - well obviously we calculated Pi on the Raspberry Pi using MPI [Message Passing Interface], 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," he adds.
Cox and his team have even published instructions online explaining how you can build a supercomputer like this at home. Be warned though, it cost roughly $4,000 (€3,000) to put together. However, if you've got the cash (plus the time and the expertise of course), you could end up building something which looks as awesome as this...
- Andrew Purcell