BitScope Cluster Blade

The Raspberry Pi 4 8G has arrived!

It has been long suspected and today it's reality; the new Raspberry Pi 4 8G has been released !

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Raspberry Pi 4 is an extremely capable little computer with nearly 3 million units sold over the past year.

Originally released in 1G, 2G and 4G variants the 1G version has since been superseded by the 2G (at the same entry level price) with this new 8G version completing the new range.

The new 8G version represents a huge step up for commercial, industrial and cluster computing applications when used with BitScope Blade.

In this post we explain why…

BitScope Cluster Blade

To celebrate this latest Raspberry Pi, we're pleased to announce Cluster Blade.

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Cluster Blade (shown in the foreground) replaces Blade Quattro (appearing behind it) in applications that use Raspbberry Pi Model 4B to its fullest. Combined, we believe it's the ultimate Raspberry Pi cluster solution because it integrates fully regulated power management, pre-emptive active cooling, system monitoring and diagnostics with the worlds most effective and now very powerful single board computer.

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Cluster Blade offers an innovative geographically addressed plug-and-play architecture which scales from 4 to 96 nodes per module making cluster deployment easy. Multiple modules combine in racks to create clusters of arbitrary size.

BitScope Micro Cluster

The smallest instance of a BitScope Cluster is the forthcoming 4-node BitScope Micro Cluster in a 1RU Rack.

Combining a Cluster Blade with four Raspberry Pi 4B and integrated network switch, this tiny cluster can be powered via Passive PoE or directly with a 12V to 28V power supply. Cluster Blade regulates incoming power down to a very stable 5V onboard providing up to 50W so the Raspberry Pi will always have enough power. There is enough spare power to connect external USB powered devices, in particular, high speed SSD storage solutions.

Cluster Packs and Racks

Cluster Blade is also designed to make building large clusters easy! Cluster Packs comprises 2, 3 or 4 Cluster Blades and a pair of Cluster Plates that integrate mounting, power and cluster control without any internal wiring. Some are designed for use in racks, others for use in cluster modules. They can be mixed and matched in to create custom clusters because all of them use the same power distribution and control plane architecture.

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There are different options for different applications but all of them are built with Cluster Blade and Raspberry Pi 4B. For example small and medium sized clusters can be built with Blade Racks or Edge Racks.

We'll post more about these options soon.

BitScope Clusters

Raspberry Pi Clusters have been around almost as long as Raspberry Pi itself. However, they came of age in 2017 when BitScope built the first large industrial cluster (comprising 3000 cores) for Los Alamos National Laboratories. This design was constructed using the original BitScope Blade and Raspberry Pi Model 3B. While not particularly powerful (for typical cluster computing applications) there was a clear purpose for its construction:

The original prototype did not have a control plane so in 2018 BitScope developed BitBar, a Control Plane for Blade Clusters which was retrofited to the original design. This core design has been refined and used to build fully functioning remotely managed clusters since then.

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The most popular of these CB48A a 48/64 node compact turn-key cluster module which has been upgraded to work with Cluster Blade. With Cluster Blade we've distilled the essence of these successful designs into a single plug-and-play product. Clusters built with Cluster Blade function similarly but are more compact and far more powerful.

Comparison with Blade Quattro

Beyond support for Raspberry Pi 4B there are many differences between these products.

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Cluster Blade and Blade Quattro are physically compatible and either can be used in our Blade Rack and Cluster products. However, Cluster Blade is specifically designed to build industrial grade Raspberry Pi Clusters. It offers more than twice the regulated power capacity, full remote power management for each node, pre-emptive active cooling, system monitoring and integrated diagnostics support. In summary the comparative specifications are:

FEATURE CB04B BB04B
Raspberry Pi Model 4B 1G, 2G, 4G and 8G
Raspberry Pi Model 3B+, 3B, 2B and B.
Supports BitScope Blade Racks.
Accepts 12V to 28V DC unregulated power source.
Provides 5V Auxiliary power (per node).
Supply Short-Circuit Protection (blocking diode).
Local Power Control for each node.
Programmable Node Activity Indicator (LED).
Supports construction of Managed Clusters
Visual Power Load Indicator (LED).
Provides up to 50W @ 5V (peak) across four nodes.
Power connectivity via Dinkel and Tabs.
Includes multi-master Cluster Control Plane.
Remote Power Control for each node.
Integrated BitScope I/O System (BIOS).
Integrated Voltage, Current and Power monitoring.
Messaging System (out-of-band communication).
Pre-emptive (current sensing) Active Cooling.
Compatible with Raspberry Pi HAT products.
BitScope Cluster Pack Power/Control solutions.
Supports Unmanaged and Edge Clusters.
Supports Desktop Micro Clusters.
Supports SLA battery backed UPS power.

BitScope recommends Cluster Blade for new designs.

The Bottom Line

Cluster Blade more than doubles the power of Quattro adding a full function control plane and active cooling system to turn the latest Raspberry Pi 4B, with its 64-bit kernel running in 8G of RAM and booting over a network into the most powerful single board computer based cluster solution currently available.

Cluster Blade will be available soon. You can pre-order now if you want stock when we launch (about a month, subject to beta testing). Pre-orders will be processed in the order they're received when the stock becomes available. If you want to build larger clusters with Cluster Blade please email us. We will have Cluster Module and Blade/Edge Rack configurations available soon and we will be able to quote them in about a month.

JK38B

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