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Team Icrontic #93

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Folding@Home clustering with Raspberry Pi 3

djmephdjmeph Detroit Icrontian

I've recently begun working with my first Raspberry Pi 3, and I'm planning a new project.

The idea will be to set up an expandable array of Raspberry Pis that will be 100% dedicated to Folding. Each Pi 3 has four cores at 1.2ghz each and 1GB of LPDDR2-900 SDRAM, as well as a VideoCore IV GPU.

Short-term goals:

  • Build a base/rack for the units, ideally to be hung on a wall.
    -- Will include a powered USB hub for distributing power
    -- network hub/switch for connectivity
    -- room for further expansion
  • Enable one Raspberry Pi 3 with Folding@Home, maximize single-unit computations, enable remote monitoring.

Once that's done:

  • Liquid-cooled SoC
  • Overclock
  • Add more units
  • Cluster units with BOINC
  • 100% self-contained solar powered
  • Upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Linux ????

Photos/progress will be posted here and probably blogged somewhere, so tune in to this thread for updates! Any guidance and insight along the way is much appreciated.

AlexDeGruven

Comments

  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian

    Seems like a fun project :) Just don't expect mondo-points from those little guys

    djmeph
  • djmephdjmeph Detroit Icrontian
    edited 10 Apr

    @Tushon said:
    Seems like a fun project :) Just don't expect mondo-points from those little guys

    Probably not. This is more of a "Can I do it?" project than anything.

    One of the resources that I'm using is a cloud-based hosting service called Mythic Beasts that offers clustered hosting using raspberry pis. They have contributed quite a bit to the Pi's codebase and have a lot of good resources on clustering.

    This will also be somewhat of a space and energy saver. I guess the cheapest way to Fold is with older, used mobo/procs but that takes up quite a bit of space. Let's say I have enough Pis to take up the space of a normal-sized ATX mobo. Will I get as many points from that array as I do with one mobo/cpu? Will the array use more energy than a single 500-600W PSU? Those will be the questions I will try to answer. Probably compare it to the proc/cpu/psu that I'm currently using for Folding.

  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    Might want to add some cooling fans into the mix. Under load, the RPi3 tends to run pretty hot from my understanding (my RPi is never under load).

    djmeph
  • djmephdjmeph Detroit Icrontian

    @ardichoke said:
    Might want to add some cooling fans into the mix. Under load, the RPi3 tends to run pretty hot from my understanding (my RPi is never under load).

    I imagine that a cooling fan will be used up until liquid cooling is implemented, but I'm not going to attempt overclocking until I go liquid.

  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian

    @djmeph said:
    This will also be somewhat of a space and energy saver. I guess the cheapest way to Fold is with older, used mobo/procs but that takes up quite a bit of space. Let's say I have enough Pis to take up the space of a normal-sized ATX mobo. Will I get as many points from that array as I do with one mobo/cpu? Will the array use more energy than a single 500-600W PSU? Those will be the questions I will try to answer. Probably compare it to the proc/cpu/psu that I'm currently using for Folding.

    Sounds good! I'm interested in your real world findings.

  • GargoyleGargoyle Purveyor of Lincoln Nightmares Illinois Icrontian

    @djmeph said:
    I've recently begun working with my first Raspberry Pi 3, and I'm planning a new project.
    The idea will be to set up an expandable array of Raspberry Pis that will be 100% dedicated to Folding. Each Pi 3 has four cores at 1.2ghz each and 1GB of LPDDR2-900 SDRAM, as well as a VideoCore IV GPU.

    Sounds awesome! I particularly like the expandable aspect. For that, maybe Ansible, Chef, Puppet, Salt, or the like will make it easier.

    I don't think there's a GNU/Linux* ARM build of Folding, but you could maybe get the Android version working. I'm not sure if it's any more difficult to deal with Android deployments in an automated way.

    • Cluster units with BOINC

    BOINC supports lots of great distributed computing projects, but not Folding. Nothing wrong with a SETI@Home cluster, though. You can see the compatible Android and Linux ARM projects here.

    • Upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Linux ????

    Probably don't need to, since the RAM is only 1GB. I'd just use whatever distro that makes your life the easiest, whether it's 32 or 64-bit.

    * finally a scenario where the GNU/Linux pedant definition points to a practical difference!

  • djmephdjmeph Detroit Icrontian

    @Gargoyle said:
    I don't think there's a GNU/Linux* ARM build of Folding, but you could maybe get the Android version working. I'm not sure if it's any more difficult to deal with Android deployments in an automated way.

    I have been reading up on people running Android on Raspberry Pi 3. The Android app makes me hopeful that they will have more ARM/SoC options available in the near future. As a backup, however, I believe that I can still use the Chrome browser version. We shall see.

    https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/android-raspberry-pi/

    • Cluster units with BOINC

    BOINC supports lots of great distributed computing projects, but not Folding. Nothing wrong with a SETI@Home cluster, though. You can see the compatible Android and Linux ARM projects here.

    Yeah, this part will depend on an ARM version of Folding@Home as well, but if I have to wait, there will just be a bunch of single Pis running on their own. I feel though that once there are binaries for ARM processors, the rest will come quickly.

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