Thoth1978
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A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Sat Jul 16, 2016 9:37 pm

I have several questions. I know they might seem ridiculous, but I'm excited about the possibility of a project like this. I know very little about Raspberry Pis, to be honest, but I'm willing to learn. I've looked and haven't found any answers to my specific questions. I do realize that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. I'm just wondering if it would be possible at all.

How possible would it be to use a Beowulf cluster of Raspberry Pi 3s as a Desktop computer for everyday computing, and even some moderate gaming? I'm not one who needs the latest and greatest graphics, as long as a game runs. Would there be a bottleneck for non-parallel computing based on the clock speed of the first node? Is there any way around that? Can I use another box (a stripped-down desktop with a decent processor but little else) as the first node? The last option is a last resort- I'd like to see if it's possible to do it with just Raspberry Pis.

Finally, what kinds of peripherals can you hook up? Can you add an external hard drive, graphics card, etc? Am I dreaming?

I do have some uses for parallel computing- I do 3d, and would like to do some more animation. I'm about to attend school for computer science in a year or so (I'm an older, returning student, not a teenager), and it might be fun to get a head start on some advanced concepts.

I'm not asking anyone to take the time to walk me through it, just to let me know if it's possible, and possibly any caveats I might need to consider. Links to more information are always appreciated, of course.

Thanks in advance.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:24 am

Yeah...if it was easy (or even possible) it'd be pretty common....

No...it won't do what you wnat, for several reasons. The performance of cluster machines depends on the inter-processor connections (particularly speed) AND performing tasks that lend themselves to partitioning across multiple, discrete processors. To former doesn't really work for Pis and the later isn't what general desktop programs are like.

As for gaming... No matter hwo many Pi you pile onto the task, they still use the ARM instruction set and nearly all games are written to run on machines using the x86 instruction set. So, even if you simulate an x86 (which can be done), you can't simulate it fast enough for a modern game. in addition, nearly all games expect to be running in an MS Windows environment and using graphics and other interfaces found in that environment. Since the games aren't designed to be partitioned across a lot of processors, even if you could find a way to run the games, they would run very, very slowly.

On the other hand, if you want to build a cluster of Pis to learn more about managing and running a cluster, by all means go ahead. You will learn a lot of new things and you can add the experience to your CV.

stderr
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Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:51 am

Thoth1978 wrote:I have several questions. I know they might seem ridiculous, but I'm excited about the possibility of a project like this. I know very little about Raspberry Pis, to be honest,
I do have some uses for parallel computing- I do 3d, and would like to do some more animation..
I'd say start out by learning how to run different programs on different pi at the same time. So get two pi3 and run them headless from the third machine you were talking about. You might find that Firefox could run on one of them and some programming language IDE on another with everything displaying on your local machine. As you flesh this out, you might find that more devices, some could be other SBC or even larger boards, say something from Nvidia or AMD, that could be used to do your 3d stuff while you do other things. Currently, if you send off a process that is demanding, it will either bog down your other processes or not run at top speed, both less than ideal situations. So there is parallelism that you can exploit without even getting to a "cluster". I'd exploit that first.

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MarkHaysHarris777
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Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Sun Jul 17, 2016 2:23 pm

The inter-processor speeds of the beo-cluster PIs is not fast enough... and each PI really does not have enough memory for the setup.

But, I would encourage you to setup the cluster anyways... its a great experiment, and fun too.

Something you might consider for desktop PC, is to use one of the machines as the X server and controller. The other machines would be used as the app processors; exporting they're displays to the primary server. So, for instance, midorid is running on one PI, libre office is running on another, and perhaps kodi is running on the third.

The fourth machine is the X server (primary) ... all other apps are displayed on this machine, but run on one of the others... so, you have a form of distributed computing. X over ssh is the primary vehicle... but you might also experiment with VNC, too.

most importantly hav'fun & learn

marcus
marcus
:ugeek:

Thoth1978
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Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 9:23 pm

Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:36 pm

Thank you, everyone for your answers. I appreciate them. I'm going to do more research.

quentin9909
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:15 am

Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:18 am

Joshua Kiepert made a computing cluster with a Beowulf Cluster
http://coen.boisestate.edu/ece/files/20 ... ter_v2.pdf

mrtymek
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Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:51 pm

Hi Thoth1978,
Did you find out anything else? Did you play around with the idea? I would be very much interested in running something set-up in one of the ways suggested here. I have been wondering myself whether it's possible to run a bunch of RPi3s as if it was a single computer. I wasn't sure if cluster computing is something that would be fit for purpose, but the idea of running one RPI as the head - the GUI - and using the remaining RPIs for processing of other tasks as suggested by stderr sounds really interesting. I'm currently researching the matter as I've got most of the kit I need for the build.

seanspotatobusiness
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 11:19 pm

Re: A Beowulf cluster of Raspberry pi 3s as a desktop?

Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:30 am

It's a shame because they look really cool but I have zero use for such a thing and a standalone Pi is enough of a challenge for me.
Raspberry Pi 3 B and B+
PRETTY_NAME="Raspbian GNU/Linux 9 (stretch)"
NAME="Raspbian GNU/Linux"
VERSION_ID="9"
VERSION="9 (stretch)"

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