Oracle: This 1,060 Raspberry Pi supercomputer is 'world's largest Pi cluster'

Oracle's Raspberry Pi 3 B+ supercomputer should provide 4,240 cores for processing.

A guide to Raspberry Pi in 60 seconds

Oracle this week is showing off what it can do with over 1,000 Raspberry Pi computers at its OpenWorld conference

The company has networked up 1,060 Raspberry Pi 3 B+ devices to create what it calls the "world's largest Raspberry Pi cluster", which is both a supercomputer and Oracle's "extremely large take on a mobile device".

The company's original design placed a 1,024-Raspberry Pi cluster in a old-style UK telephone booth.

SEE: Cloud v. data center decision (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

However, as reported by ServeTheHome, there are actually 1,060 Raspberry Pi nodes, some of which are there as spares "just in case". 

There are blue fixtures and lots of blue cables, but Oracle appears to have dropped the telephone-booth concept for a glass box.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation launched the Pi 3 Model B+ last year for $35 a piece. It contains a 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core Broadcom Arm Cortex A53-architecture processor that offered a 15% performance improvement on the Pi 3 Model B. 

So Oracle's supercomputer would have cost about $37,100 for just the boards, assuming no volume discounts were provided. It would give the machine 4,240 cores for processing. 

According to Oracle's specifications, it also users 22 network switches, five six-foot racks, 49 custom 3D-printed Raspberry Pi holders, 18 USB power supplies, and "tons" of network and power cables. 

The final design also includes an Oracle-branded Supermicro 1U Xeon server that boots the system and the cluster is running on Oracle Autonomous Linux, the company's just announced "autonomous" operating system.  

Autonomous Linux is based on Oracle Linux, which powers Oracle Cloud and Oracle Engineered Systems. 

SEE: Oracle announces Oracle Autonomous Linux

Oracle's demo unit is an eye-catching way of attracting developers at its conference. Its housing still vaguely resembles an old-style UK police telephone booth, like Doctor Who's TARDIS time machine.  

But it isn't the only organization that sees potential for using Raspberry Pi to build a cheap supercomputer. 

The Los Alamos National Lab in 2017 unveiled a supercomputer based on 750 Raspberry Pis, which gave it 3,000 cores to work with under the pilot. There were plans to scale the supercomputer testbed to 40,000 cores, but the lab has not announced any updates since 2017. 

More on Raspberry Pi and single-board computers