Turing Pi 2: The Low Power Cluster


We’re not in the behavior of recommending Kickstarter tasks in this article at Hackaday, but when prototype hardware exhibits up on our desk, we just can’t support but perform with it and write it up for the audience. And that is precisely exactly where we find ourselves with the Turing Pi 2. You could be common with the original Turing Pi, the carrier board that operates seven Raspberry Pi Compute boards at after. That a single supports the Compute variations 1 and 3, but a new design and style was evidently required for the Compute Module 4. Not articles with just supporting the CM4, the developers at Turing Machines have created a 4-slot carrier board based on the NVIDIA Jetson pinout. The total line of Jetson equipment are supported, and a basic adapter will make the CM4 do the job. There’s even a model new module prepared about the RK3588, which need to be fairly amazing.

A single of the style choices of the TP2 is to use the mini-ITX form-component and 24-pin ATX electricity link, offering us the option to install the TP2 in a tiny computer case. There is even a personalized rack-mountable case being planned by the people over at My Electronics. So if you want 4 or 8 Raspberry Pis in a rack mount, this one’s for you.

The Appeal — And the Threats

“Wait, wait”, I listen to you say, “There’s a lot of ways to rack-mount Raspberry Pis!” Certainly. The variety factor possibilities are useful, but the authentic magic is the relaxation of the board. Independently managed electric power provide for all 4 boards from a solitary ATX electricity supply tends to make for a pretty thoroughly clean remedy. Want to reboot a hung Pi remotely? There is the Baseboard Administration Controller (BMC) that will do full electrical power handle more than the community. Which is the actual killer aspect: the BMC is likely to operate Open up Supply firmware, and will electricity some pretty clever functions. Want UART to troubleshoot a boot dilemma? It’s available from all four nodes on the BMC. Have to have to force a new graphic to a CM4? The BMC will involve image flashing functions. Constructed into the board is a Gigabit network change linking the Pis, the BMC, and two external Ethernet ports, all supporting VLANs.

On the other hand, not considerably of the BMC wizardry is actually carried out nonetheless on the review units. This is the project’s greatest promise and the area it could go awry. Putting together a steady firmware with all the bells and whistles in the a few months right before scheduled ship date may be a little bit optimistic. I’m anticipating a performing firmware, with updates to refine the practical experience in the months next launch.

Then there’s the expanded IO. The board will come with a pair of Mini PCIe ports, 4 USB3 ports, and a pair of SATA ports. This performs via the PCIe lanes uncovered by the a variety of compute modules. Nodes 1 and 2 are connected to the mini PCIe ports, node 3 to the SATA, and node 4 to the USB3 ports. On top rated of that, a switchable USB2 port can be dynamically assigned to any of the present nodes. Oh, and there is an HDMI output from node 1, so even much more possibilities, like operating a Pi CM4 8GB as a desktop equipment. A late alternative added to the Kickstarter bolts four NVMe ports to the bottom of the board, 1 per slot, though not every compute module has the PCIe lanes to aid it.

Now hold in mind that I’m testing a pre-creation device (more on that later on), and not all of the previously mentioned is essentially functioning yet. Rather a several changes are slated for the generation boards vs my device, and the BMC firmware on this board is completely small. There is also the offer-chain problems we’ve continued to protect in this article on Hackaday, but the TP2 has the advantage of being developed in the course of the shortage, so need to be in a position to stay away from utilizing challenging-to-source parts.


Now let’s talk about what this *does not* do. This may perhaps seem obvious, but the Turing Pi 2 does not give you a solitary ARM equipment with 16+ processing cores. There isn’t adequate magic onboard to make the products act like a unified multi-processor laptop. I’m not confident there is plenty of magic anywhere to definitely pull that off. Nonetheless, what you do get is four quickly-managed equipment that are best for operating mild-fat expert services or Docker pictures.

On the lookout for a platform for finding out Docker and Kubernetes? Or a position to host Gitlab, Nextcloud, and a file server? It’s possible you want to perform Nginx as a front-close proxy, and many products working solutions guiding it? The Homelab-in-a-box nature of the TP2 will make it a beneficial alternative for all of the previously mentioned. And even although you can’t moderately do all the earlier mentioned on a single Raspberry Pi, a programmable cluster of 4 of them does the task very properly. The VLAN aid usually means that you can insert virtual NICs to your nodes, and produce an inner network. With the two actual physical Ethernet ports, you could even use your TP2 as your key router, on prime of anything else it can do.

Serious-Environment Screening

So what is the actual point out of the challenge? I have my pre-production board at present booting a Raspberry Pi CM4, a Pine64 SOQuartz module, an NVIDIA Jetson Nano, and the Jetson TX2 NX. The Jetson Xavier NX had a quirk requiring a minimal board modification, but operates like a champ as soon as that was finished. There are the regular warts of a pre-output board, like added dip switches all around the place, and a couple of quirks, like Ethernet only coming up at 100M for some equipment. These are recognised challenges, and a excellent illustration of why you do a examination operate of rev boards. The ultimate item ought to have all the kinks labored out.

I’ve been monitoring electric power attract, and the most I’ve managed to pull is a mere 30 watts of energy. This indicates a real-planet use circumstance, an off-grid compute cluster. The mini-PCIe ports must allow for an LTE modem (Or you can use Starlink if you are *way* off grid). Add a pair cameras and put in the Zoneminder docker images, and you have a low-electrical power video checking resolution. Insert a RTL-SDR dongle, and the rtl_433 computer software listening to a solar-run temperature station, and you can track the weather conditions at your remote locale, way too. Just for enjoyable, I ran a Janus docker impression on one particular of the Raspberry Pi CM4s on my TP2. Janus is the WebRTC server we have built-in into Zoneminder, and I was equipped to stay stream 12 security cameras at 1080p, only making use of around 25% of the obtainable processor electrical power, or a load of 1 on a four core Pi. It’s a testament to how lightweight Janus is, but also a good example of a thing practical you could do with a TP2.

What is Next

The Kickstarter is around, with much better than two million pounds elevated, but do not sweat it, due to the fact you will soon be capable to buy a Turing Pi 2. Ordering will be handled through the Turing Pi web-site itself, keep tuned for the particulars. There will be a couple of months til the remaining revision of the board is finished and delivered, hopefully with some killer firmware and all the things doing work particularly as advertised. Then at last there’s the alluring RK1 compute board, with up to 32 GB of ram and eight cores of Arm goodness from the RK3588. That’s a very little more out, and might be a second Kickstarter campaign. I requested about mainline assistance for the RK1, and was explained to that this is a key purpose, but they are not just sure on the timing. There is fairly a little bit of excitement all around this certain chip, so look forward to the neighborhood doing work jointly to get all the wanted bits in place for mainline support.

There may well be an unexpected consequence of the Turing Pi 2 and RK1 making use of the NVIDIA Jetson SO-DIMM connector. Envision a handheld product crafted on the Antmicro open source Jetson Baseboard, that woks with a number of compute modules. I mentioned the Pine64 SOQuartz: Which is not an formally supported board in the TP2, but simply because Pine64 developed it to the CM4 technical specs, it clicks appropriate into the adapter card and works like a champ. There is an interesting chance that one or two of these compute module interfaces will get adequate of a significant mass, that it gets broadly employed in equipment. And if anybody puzzled, applying the TP2 CM4 adapter does not magically allow booting a CM4 in a Jetson Nano provider board. Sure, we checked.

So is the Turing Pi 2 for you? Possibly. If you don’t intellect juggling a number of single-board pcs, and the mess of cabling required, then perhaps not. But if the capacity to slot 4 SBCs in a solitary mini-ITX situation, with a BMC that would make everyday living way much easier appears like a breath of fresh air, then give it a glimpse. The serious exam will be when the finished product ships, and what shape the guidance is in. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will not be terribly late, and that it will have doing work OSS firmware. I’m on the lookout forward to having my hands on the ultimate solution. Now if you are going to excuse me, I assume I need to have to go established up an automatic technique for setting up aarch64 docker images.


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