Progress on an ARM cluster server box.

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Hacking, Hardware, ubuntu
Tags: , ,
Top and Side view of Panda Board/ daughter card 10 stack

Top and Side view of Panda Board/ daughter card 10 stack

I dummied up a cluster of Texas Instruments Panda boards and a daughter card that will control secure booting.  I wanted to test the size and make sure it would fit into the 19″ rack case I’m having built.  Because Panda boards are back ordered I ordered some blank circuit board stock and cut it to the sizes I needed to build the stack.  I managed to get my hands on two dead boards and then cut 8 more Panda board sized blanks.  Then I made up 10 daughter card sized blanks and bolted them together.

The stack measures 14.5″ long, which will fit quite nicely in a 17″ wide case with room for cables to be attached and routed to the back of the case.  I’ve attached some pictures, you can see the 2 dead Panda boards, 8 blanks and the 10 daughter cards blanks that have the odd shape cut out of them to mount closer to the Panda boards,  The cutout allows room for the USB/Ethernet stack and Audio jacks while the rest of the board fits within 1/2 inch of the Panda board for space savings.

It’s fun doing this work but harder then I expected.  Getting the cutouts and the holes drilled into the blank boards correctly was some harder then I expected.

Tomorrow drag out an old 19″ rack mount case and test in the case, but given the actual size I’m not worried at all.

  1. Oli says:

    This looks awesome but what on earth are you going to use it for?

  2. Shane Fagan says:

    It looks like an awesome coffee table, how much would it cost to make one?

    • dmtechtalk says:

      The first one is going to be ~$20,000 USD. But that includes the cost of designing the daughter card needed. After that it will be ~$7.000USD per cluster of 20 A9 dual core systems in a single 3U case. That is a back of the napkin guess as I’m in the process of building the first one now and have a long way to go.
      Several things have not been priced yet, the cable harness, the powersupplys, and the relay control system, so it’s only a guess so far.

  3. Michael Duque says:

    Hey dmtechtalk,

    You are along the right path with this and I really like where this project is headed. I have a few ideas for how this can be used.

    Connect with me using twitter @twitduque.

  4. MG says:

    What kind of cluster interconnect will it be using, ethernet?

  5. […] far too many twist ties gives 12 cores for a total of 9.76 GHz of processing… not as cool as David’s box, but I like […]

  6. Bob H says:

    I think you really need to take a look at the Marvell Armada range of chips, in particular the Armada XP which has four cores in a small power footprint. Also Marvell have a range of dual core CPUs.


  7. dmtechtalk says:

    I have looked at the Marvell chips, and I like them quite a lot, that said, I need builders that are based on ARM v7 preferably with NEON functionality available and a current Linux kernel (say 2.6.38 or greater) and dual[quad core would be even better. Best I know there are really no inexpensive off the shelf boards that have an ARM v7 Marvell chip on it, let alone a Marvell chip that has NEON enabled, say less then $200 per board.

    Still if I could find an inexpensive Marvell ARMv7 off the shelf board that I could buy 20 of today, I’d likely look at buying them.

  8. rjbradlow says:

    Awesome job, keep up the great work!
    I’ve been sitting on a very similar build idea for awhile and am glad to see that someone else is making progress in this direction. Good for you.
    My plate has been too full to move forward as of yet.
    Be blessed friend.

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