Oracle Shows 1060 Raspberry Pi Supercomputer at OOW

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Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Back Side Rows Of RPI 3 B
Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Back Side Rows Of RPI 3 B

At Oracle OpenWorld 2019, tucked away in the Oracle Code One area, the company had something unique: a 1060 Raspberry Pi 3 B+ cluster it calls the Raspberry Pi Supercomputer. We had a chance to check this cluster out at the show and it was extremely cool integrating inexpensive components and even 3D printed carriers along with the network booting the Oracle Autonomous Linux distribution to create something bigger.

Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer

One may be wondering why there are 1060 Raspberry Pi 3B+ nodes, not an even 1024. We were told at the show that it was based on the physical dimensions of the solution along with having spares “just in case.” We asked why a Raspberry Pi 3B+ cluster instead of virtualizing an existing Arm server. We did AoA Analysis with the Marvell ThunderX2 versus 190 Raspberry Pi 4s recently. The answer was that a big cluster is cool, and cool it is.

Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Angle View
Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Angle View

Taking a look at the architecture, each 2U rack of 21 Raspberry Pi 3B+ nodes uses a 3D printed carrier specifically designed with printing speed in mind. We were told it took about a day just to unbox all 1060 nodes.

Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Side View
Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Side View

These are then connected into Ubiquiti UniFi 48 port switches. Each switch is uplinked via SFP+ 10GbE.

Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer USB Power Supplies
Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer USB Power Supplies

Power is not provided via PoE. That helps greatly with cables, but we were told that in this installation the heat and power penalty along with the PoE hat cost was too much. Instead, the solution uses an array of USB power supplies.

There is a central storage server (Oracle re-branded Supermicro 1U Xeon server) that is network booting all of the systems.

Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Network Storage 1U
Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer Network Storage 1U

The systems are running Oracle Autonomous Linux as well as Java, as one would expect from an Oracle demo, but may not expect on a cluster of this size.

Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer 3x3 Visualization
Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer 3×3 Visualization

Oracle also has a visualization solution. The nine display visualization wall can be seen here with just under 500 of the nodes booted. This is also running off of a x86 tower PC behind the displays.

Final Words

Perhaps the Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer is not going to make it to the November Top500 list but it teaches a number of fundamental cluster principles. This is a super cool machine that the company is showing off at Oracle OpenWorld 2019 as part of the company’s developer relations programs. Even tucked away behind an arcade, it is still garnering a lot of foot traffic. The concept of doing it because it is “cool” is certainly paying off.

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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

9 COMMENTS

  1. They should have hit it with a can of dust-off! Very cool rack and awesome use of “commodity” equipment to have some fun.

  2. 1. Did they show any realistic application with a real use case?

    2. How much did it cost them to build it? Let’s assume $35 x 1060 + cables + switches + x86 server + chassis + IT and engineering staff ending up at $50K, $60K? More?

    3. If it’s for noise and marketing purpose, should we bet on which company is going to up the ante at 2120 nodes just to piss them off?

  3. “Perhaps the Oracle Raspberry Pi Supercomputer is not going to make it to the November Top500 list…” No, not by a long shot. To have made the June 2019 list, you would have needed a cluster of approx 300,000 Raspberry PI 4s… assuming my maths is correct 🙂

  4. Considering you could have far greater performance with a single 2U4N with dual Rome 7742’s, all for the same cost and using FAR less space, I see this “supercomputer” as nothing more than publicity.

  5. Why? Seems like a waste of time and effort, what was this thing supposed to prove? It is hardly a supercomputer of any sort. Use a SPARC M8… that is innovation.

  6. I think allot of people are missing the point that this is not showing off their ability to put 1060 RBP’s in a rack; it is showing of their ability to scale their OS to thousands of servers at a time. If all of those PI’s can come up in a short amount of time off of network boot… that is quite the achievement from a 1U server. Replace the PI’s with actual servers and you can see how cool it is. Booting 42 1U servers in a rack off of a 1U server would hardley be any sort of accomplishment where this (as absurd as it is) is a accomplishment.

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