The Green Protocol Blog

12Aug 2015

Raspberry Pi – mini data center cluster

First unveiled at the Big Bang Fair 2015, the Raspberry Pi Bramble is another example of GCHQ’s ability to combine innovation with education.

How the Bramble was born

As their winning entry into an internal invention competition intended to stimulate innovation, three GCHQ technologists chose to build a Raspberry Pi cluster computer, known as a ‘Bramble’.
Research indicated that existing similar projects tended to be one-off designs, with no commercial or reproducible hardware components, and generally set up to perform one specific task.

Design approach

The GCHQ design is for a commodity-based cluster, consisting of one or more ‘blocks’ of Pis that can stand alone or be connected together to form a larger cluster. It is designed to be easy to build and service, with a software stack that allows multiple tasks to be run across the available processors using multiple technologies.

How the Bramble is formed

The basic block is made up of eight networked Raspberry Pis, which GCHQ has termed an ‘OctaPi’. This number was chosen taking into account power and cooling requirements, area, weight, accessibility, simplicity and aesthetics.
The boards are powered using  the ‘Power over Ethernet’ (PoE) standard to reduce the number of cables and power supplies needed, with each Pi also driving a large LED display, used to display the status of the system.

Read more: Raspberry Pi cluster network

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