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Thread: Building A 96-Core Ubuntu ARM Solar-Powered Cluster

  1. #1
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    Default Building A 96-Core Ubuntu ARM Solar-Powered Cluster

    Phoronix: Building A 96-Core Ubuntu ARM Solar-Powered Cluster

    Last week I shared results from the Phoronix 12-core ARM Linux mini cluster that was constructed out of six PandaBoard ES development boards. Over the weekend, a 96-core ARM cluster succeeded this build. While packing nearly 100 cores and running Ubuntu Linux, the power consumption was just a bit more than 200 Watts. This array of nearly 100 processor cores was even powered up by a solar panel.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=17489

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    Michael details on the panel power supplies electrics etc will be published by MIT right??

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    Quote Originally Posted by 89c51 View Post
    Michael details on the panel power supplies electrics etc will be published by MIT right??
    Maybe. It's pretty simple. They used a bunch of 13-port USB hubs. They could run about 8 PandaBoards off a 13-port USB hub with a 4Amp AC power adapter for each hub (0.5 Amps per PandaBoard). The PandaBoard non-ES can run off USB power by default, the ES is supposed to be able too, but evidently it's flakey whether or not it works.

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    Default Power consumption is high in idle.

    3W in Idle for an omap4430, is a bit huge
    I know some smartphones powered by omap4430 that use only 5mA in idle on 4.7V battery, so about 24mW.

    normally the core can be switched OFF at runtime, and most peripheral too.
    So it seems Ubuntu can't do it (maybe due to the ethernet port ?).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Maybe. It's pretty simple. They used a bunch of 13-port USB hubs. They could run about 8 PandaBoards off a 13-port USB hub with a 4Amp AC power adapter for each hub (0.5 Amps per PandaBoard). The PandaBoard non-ES can run off USB power by default, the ES is supposed to be able too, but evidently it's flakey whether or not it works.
    I am mostly interested in the solar stuff. If they just got shelf bought components or if they did any type of customizations etc.

    I believe you ll keep us updated.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by 89c51 View Post
    I am mostly interested in the solar stuff. If they just got shelf bought components or if they did any type of customizations etc.

    I believe you ll keep us updated.
    This solar panel shown in the pics wasn't built explictly for the cluster... They just happened to have the panel around plus a 400W inverter with battery... They also have a nice MIT solar concentrator, etc. The solar portion isn't part of the cluster build itself.

    I'll be back out in Boston tomorrow to speak at BLU so might have another chance to play with the cluster some more, but right now there seems to be some performance issues in software.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    This solar panel shown in the pics wasn't built explictly for the cluster... They just happened to have the panel around plus a 400W inverter with battery... They also have a nice MIT solar concentrator, etc. The solar portion isn't part of the cluster build itself.

    I'll be back out in Boston tomorrow to speak at BLU so might have another chance to play with the cluster some more, but right now there seems to be some performance issues in software.
    what was the purpose of this 96 core build BTW ? for personal fun ,to prove the students can perform cobbling together off the shelf generic kit, or to perform a real test and write a paper etc

    and when your there Michael please ask them why they didn't get MIT to buy in a load of cheap ARM cortex A9 on sodimm like these http://www.karo-electronics.com/tx53.html and have the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science guys knock up a 100 SODIMM slot carrier board interface to carry all the I/O signals to and from the TX module so as to get something with far lower power usage or just get the company to knock something simple and functional to cluster 10 SODIMM ARM cards with 4 SOC on each.

    while the Karo electronics guys only show a set of slower speed Freescale i.MX535, A8 at 1 GHz,
    im not sure so check but i think the Freescale i.MX6, 1.2 GHz A9 Quad (its also got 1gigabit Ethernet in soc)is pin compatible with all their other series so MIT could have karo or some other ARM on SODIMM vendors make a striped down PCB with all the ports and power passed on to the daughter board and a set (2 or 4 per card) of i.MX6 quads per SODIMM

    http://www.karo-electronics.com/tx-standard.html
    "
    Concept

    The TX embedded module integrates all the core components of a common PC and is mounted
    onto an application specific carrier board. TX modules have a standardized form factor of 67,6mm x
    26mm, have specified pinouts and provide the functional requirements for an embedded
    application. These functions include, but are not limited to, graphics, network and multiple USB
    ports. A single ruggedized SO-DIMM connector provides the carrier board interface to carry all the
    I/O signals to and from the TX module. This SO-DIMM connector is a well known and proven high
    speed signal interface connector that is commonly used for memory cards in notebooks.

    Carrier board designers can utilize as little or as many of the I/O interfaces as deemed necessary.
    The carrier board can therefore provide all the interface connectors required to attach the system
    to the application specific peripherals. This versatility allows the designer to create a dense and
    optimized package, which results in a more reliable product while simplifying system integration.
    Most importantly, TX applications are scalable, which means once a product has been developed,
    the product range can be diversified by using TX modules with a different performance class.
    Simply unplug one module and replace it with another, no redesign is necessary."
    Last edited by popper; 06-19-2012 at 07:24 PM.

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    Default excellent

    i have been waiting for this. thank you michael!

  9. #9
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    Default Additional details on Panda Cluster

    We will try to get the specs up on the web. Meanwhile, here are the basics (I am one of the guys who worked on it).

    We started with Chris Tyler's excellent HOWTO...
    http://blog.chris.tylers.info/index....daBoard-Planet

    and then bought Koutech 13-port USB hubs... we were chugging along pretty well in the 5v DC domain until we had to get a 48-port ethernet switch, which was a 3Com 2250 Plus (48 FastE and 2 GigE ports). Case was a Rubbermaid 9P90 Plaza Jr. (35 Gallon) Container which looks a lot like a Seahorse Power BigBelly.

    Solar system was a "solar popcorn cart" from http://futuresolar.wordpress.com/ I think we will revisit this part of the equation; one of our guys has a cool MPPT controller (some pix of which used to be at http://solarwirelessmile.com/)... so next time we will try this without battery.

    I'll get some more material together for a website and report back. We got good advice from some of the regular posters here. User drjo suggested we get rid of SD and use something else for the fs. We have tried booting with the usboot utility from Pandaboard.org with mixed results. Must not like the hubs, we think. Anyway, more to come.

  10. #10
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    thanks for the "
    Kurt Keville of MIT and I talking about the ARM cluster:" clip it clears a lot up on the purpose of this


    in case the other MIT guys want to try and make that micro ARM on SODIMM setup apparently they do also have a dual OMAP4460 1.5 GHz with 1Gigabit/s via on-module SMSC LAN7500 http://www.directinsight.co.uk/produ...omap-4460.html but no ARM quad versions off the shelf yet so far and that's a shame, so an I.mx6 quad 1.2 GHz 1Gigabit/s Ethernet although slower might still be the better option if they add that soon.

    have you determined if your restricting throughput by the 10/100 Ethernet yet ? and did a small cluster (over 3 channels) running over wireless 11n ad hoc give better throughput ? i cant seem to find any numbers about real life wireless 11n throughput on these boards so that might be interesting to know
    Last edited by popper; 06-21-2012 at 07:22 PM.

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