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Cluster Pi: Build a Raspberry Pi Beowulf cluster

Construct a simple supercomputer using the popular $35 Raspberry Pi.
4.2 (20 ratings)
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1,136 students enrolled
Created by Wolf Donat
Last updated 1/2016
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  • 41 mins on-demand video
  • 7 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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Parallel computing - cheap!

As computer processors approach their limits in both size and speed, it has become apparent that further advances in computational power will require parallel programming, with many processors networked together and attacking large problems in chunks.

Although supercomputers are far outside of the price range of the normal hobbyist, cheaper minicomputers like the Raspberry Pi can be networked together in the same way to allow hobbyists and experimenters to learn about this powerful form of programming.

Contents of the course

This course takes you through the process of using some simple hardware and open-source software to construct a parallel-networked cluster, ready to attack larger computational problems. You'll learn:

  • The history of supercomputing
  • What parallel programming is
  • Common software used and how to install it on a Raspberry Pi
  • Connecting and testing the final cluster

It's a great introduction to parallel programming, and after only a few lectures you'll have a working Beowulf cluster, based on the inexpensive Raspberry Pi minicomputer. The lectures are entirely video-based, along with included PDFs, example configuration files, and parts lists.

When you're done with this course, you'll have a suite of new skills that can easily be applied to clusters constructed from more powerful machines. It's a great, inexpensive intro to parallel computing!

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is meant to introduce the concept of networking individual computers and processors together to parallelize computations and increase computational speed and power. Some familiarity with Linux is helpful, but not required.
  • May not be suitable for absolute beginners to the Pi
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What Will I Learn?
Build a Beowulf cluster from Raspberry Pi minicomputers
View Curriculum
  • At least three Raspberry Pi minicomputers
  • A network switch
  • One Ethernet cable per Raspberry Pi
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 8 Lectures Collapse All 8 Lectures 40:50
2 Lectures 07:34

A general introduction and welcome to the course.

Preview 03:01

In this lecture, I go through exactly what constitutes what we think of as 'supercomputing', and offer a pictorial history of some important supercomputers.

Preview 04:33
2 Lectures 10:06

In which I outline the parts necessary to build the cluster. I've included a parts list with links to the exact parts I use.

Preview 04:44

In which I enumerate all of the software you'll need to download, and take you through the necessary setup of your Pi. You'll need to edit your /etc/network/interfaces file, and I've included a working example to use as a template.

The build
2 Lectures 14:46

In which I take you through the process of unpacking, building and installing the MPICH implementation of MPI open-source software.

Configuring and Installing MPICH

In which we manually build and install the mpi4py software used to control the cluster.

Installing mpi4py
2 Lectures 08:24

In which we set up SSH key authorization, connect the cluster together, and run our first distributed programming script.

Getting everything working

In which we discuss ways to further experiment, and I give several resources to learn more about the software involved in parallel computing paradigms.

Resources and further study
About the Instructor
4.1 Average rating
61 Reviews
4,400 Students
3 Courses
Engineer. Writer. Maker.

Hi, I'm Wolf. I'm a computer engineer who specializes in robotics, computer vision, and embedded systems. I am a huge fan of the Raspberry Pi minicomputer because of the versatility and power that it packs into an extremely inexpensive package, making it accessible to nearly everybody who wants to learn. I've worked with it as both a professional and a hobbyist, and I really enjoy teaching others to use it.

I've written more than a few books and created a few courses, and I've received funding in the past from NASA for some work in autonomous submersibles. Try out the Raspberry Pi with me - I think you'll be glad you did!

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