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The array of weedy, lower power Arm chips in the Pi cluster has similarities with the architecture of microservers beginning to find their way into datacentres, said White.
"Energy efficiency is a big issue in cloud right now. Perhaps Arm is going to have more of a say in cloud infrastructure in the future and this is an example of running a Pi cloud off a single plug socket."
Eventually White hopes to scale the platform to 1,000 Pi boards, so as to better represent the architectures of platforms run by the likes of Amazon Web Services.
"We've got 56 nodes now, I'd love to see a Pi cloud with 1,000. The nice thing about going up to that scale is it would allow us to have much higher volumes on our network and more complex architectures. We don't have multiple clusters interacting at the moment which we would really like to see," he said.
"If you're using a simulator to teach or just letting students use AWS you don't realise the practical and technical issues that these big providers have to solve, the low level hacking that's involved in making these things run well. Moving it to a larger scale might expose further issues, such as network bottlenecks."
As well as running a cloud platform on the cluster the researchers are also experimenting using it to run Hadoop natively.
The project has been supported by the university's Learning and Teaching Development Fund. More information on the Raspberry Pi Cloud project is available here.