Ground Electronics, AB Open’s manufacturing division, today unveils a new “datacentre-in-a-box” platform targeting software development, testing, and education: the Raspberry Pi-powered Circumference.

Presented to the public for the first time today ahead of a crowdfunding campaign launch in the coming weeks, Circumference is designed to offer all the functionality of a datacentre environment in a compact and attractive package. Based around clusters of eight Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ compute nodes and up to four clusters per Circumference, the system offers up to 128 64-bit Armv8 processor cores running at 1.4GHz. The Circumference itself provides power distribution, network connectivity, instrumentation, cooling, and remote console connectivity to all nodes via an integrated UDOO x86 microcomputer front-end processor (FEP).

“The Circumference is designed to simplify the process of developing software for a multi-node cluster environment, drawing a fraction of the power and requiring a fraction the space of a traditional cluster system,” explains AB Open’s Andrew Back of the project’s inspiration. “Its design will be of particular interest to developers and educators working in cloud computing, high-performance computing, cluster, and containerisation, and is supported by simple command-line utilities and a Python programming interface offering full control over the system.”

The custom instrumentation system in each Circumference allows for detailed monitoring and control of all connected nodes. Energy usage, power supply voltage, and temperature can be monitored in real-time, while the Python-based application programming interface (API) offers control of the nodes’ serial console, power, and Ethernet connectivity. The 32-node model also includes per-node power indication and status readouts on six integrated LED matrix displays for at-a-glance monitoring without any additional hardware.

More information on the Circumference, which will be available in eight-node and 32-node models dubbed the C25 and C100, is available on the Crowd Supply pre-campaign page.