Single-board computers (SBCs) have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their compact size, low power consumption, and versatility. With advancements in SBC technology, it has become possible to use them for a wide range of computing tasks, from simple hobby projects to complex industrial applications. One way to leverage the power of SBCs is through clustering, which involves connecting multiple SBCs together to create a single high-performance computing system. Clustering SBCs can provide a cost-effective solution for compute-intensive applications such as data analysis, machine learning, and scientific simulations. This approach offers several advantages over traditional supercomputers, including lower cost, increased flexibility, and scalability. In this article, we will explore the benefits of clustering SBCs for compute and discuss some of the popular clustering software options available.
Clustering single board computers (SBCs) is a powerful way to increase the compute power of these small, low-cost devices. Clustering can be used for a variety of tasks, such as data analysis, machine learning, scientific simulations, and other high-performance computing applications. In this section, we will explore how to configure Linux-based SBCs into a cluster.
- Choose your SBCs: The first step in building a cluster is to choose the SBCs that will be used. The SBCs must have the same architecture and must be compatible with the clustering software being used. Popular choices for Linux-based SBCs include Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard, and Odroid.
- Install the operating system: Once the SBCs have been selected, the next step is to install the operating system (OS). For Linux-based SBCs, popular distributions include Raspbian, Ubuntu, and Debian. It is important to ensure that all the SBCs in the cluster have the same OS version installed.
- Set up networking: In order for the SBCs to communicate with each other, a networking protocol must be established. One popular choice is Ethernet, but other options such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth can also be used. It is recommended to use a Gigabit Ethernet switch to ensure high-speed communication between the SBCs.
- Install cluster software: The next step is to install the cluster software. There are several popular software options available, such as MPICH, OpenMPI, and OpenCL. These software packages allow the SBCs to communicate with each other and coordinate their processing power to complete tasks more efficiently.
- Configure the cluster: Once the cluster software has been installed, it is time to configure the cluster. This involves assigning each SBC a unique IP address, setting up a shared file system, and configuring the cluster software to work with the SBCs in the cluster.
- Test the cluster: After the cluster has been configured, it is important to test it to ensure that it is working correctly. This can be done by running a simple test program that calculates pi, or by using more complex software to perform data analysis or machine learning tasks.
Shown below is my ICECC cluster, which I use to compile different software simultaneously to multiple devices which host a plethora of different services. The cluster is made up of multiple Raspberry Pi 1s and 3s, as well as an odroid and 4 banana pi m2m’s.
# Set the ICECC version
# Install ICECC on all devices
for device in device1 device2 device3; do
ssh $device "sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install icecc -y"
# Configure the host and client settings
echo "Enter the IP address of the host device:"
for device in device1 device2 device3; do
ssh $device "echo ICECC_HOST=\"$host_ip\" | sudo tee -a /etc/environment"
ssh $device "echo ICECC_SCHEDULER=\"$host_ip\" | sudo tee -a /etc/environment"
ssh $device "echo ICECC_VERSION=\"$ICECC_VERSION\" | sudo tee -a /etc/environment"
ssh $device "echo \"export ICECC_VERSION ICECC_HOST ICECC_SCHEDULER\" | sudo tee -a /etc/profile.d/icecc.sh"
# Configure the ICECC daemon and scheduler on the host device
echo "Configuring ICECC daemon and scheduler on host device..."
sudo sed -i "s/^#\(ENABLE_REMOTE=1\)/\1/" /etc/icecc/icecc.conf
sudo sed -i "s/^#\(ICECC_SCHEDULER_HOSTS=\"localhost\"\)/\1/" /etc/icecc/icecc-scheduler.conf
# Restart the ICECC daemon and scheduler on the host device
echo "Restarting ICECC daemon and scheduler on host device..."
sudo systemctl restart icecc icecc-scheduler
# Add clients to the ICECC cluster on the host device
echo "Enter the IP addresses of the client devices (separated by spaces):"
for client_ip in $client_ips; do
ssh $host_ip "sudo icecc-create-env --remote $client_ip --icecream-version $ICECC_VERSION"
# Test the ICECC cluster
echo "Testing the ICECC cluster..."
echo "#include <stdio.h>
}" > test.c
export ICECC_VERSION ICECC_HOST ICECC_SCHEDULER
icecc gcc test.c