Engineers Build Supercomputer with Raspberry Pi and Lego

A team of computer scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK have created a supercomputer out of 64 Raspberry Pi computers and Lego. The team included a six year old James Cox, who is the son of project lead Professor Simon Cox, “who provided specialist support on Lego and system testing.”

The racking was built and developed by Simon and James using Lego, they also tested the Raspberry Pi by programming it using free computer programming software Python and Scratch. Professor Cox uses the free plug-in ‘Python Tools for Visual Studio’ to develop code for the Raspberry Pi. The device is named “Iridis-Pi” after the University’s Iridis supercomputer.

The supercomputer runs off a single 13 Amp main socket and uses MPI (Message Passing Interface) to communicate between nodes using Ethernet. The system cost under £2,500 and has 64 processors total and 1Tb of memory (16Gb SD cards for each Raspberry Pi).

Professor Cox says, “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.” He 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.”

Here is a (PDF) with instructions on how to make your own supercomputer using Raspberry Pi and Lego.