This Raspberry Pi ‘Mega Cluster’ costs more than your monster PC

YouTube channel Skynet Network has showcased an impressive Raspberry Pi cluster computer, dubbed the Mega Cluster, which cost in the region of $5,000 to build.

As reported by our sister site Tom’s Hardware, the cluster is made up of 83 Raspberry Pi computers, each fitted with a heatsink to keep the system cool, and connected up with two Netgear ProSafe switches. The vast majority are Raspberry Pi 3Bs, but one Pi Zero 2 W is included as well, for fun.

In the video, Skynet explains that roughly 25 of the Raspberry Pis are hardwired to the switches via Ethernet and the remainder are hooked up wirelessly.

Originally, the cluster was intended to feature an even greater number of Raspberry Pis, but Skynet had to scale back its ambitions due to network latency issues.

Traditionally, Raspberry Pi clusters are used to create a private cloud or web server, or host a NAS system. It’s even possible to cluster Raspberry Pis to create a personal supercomputer. In this case, however, each Raspberry Pi is run as an individual VPN, with a unique IP address from across the globe. 

Raspberry Pi shortage

Unfortunately, for anyone that might want to build a similar cluster computer, Raspberry Pis are proving difficult to come by at the moment, with shortages expected to last well into next year. Some retailers (including Mouser and Digi-Key) are even estimating they will be unable to ship some SKUs until 2023.

A number of factors have combined to create the shortage, including the allocation of limited chip manufacturing capacity to larger players and shipping issues caused by supply chain bottlenecks. And earlier this year, Raspberry Pi was forced to implement its first ever price hike as a result.

“We’re now expecting our supply chain challenges to continue through much of 2022,” wrote Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi CEO. “These challenges will fall most heavily on our older products, built on 40nm silicon: in practice, anything that isn’t a Raspberry Pi 4, Raspberry Pi 400, or Compute Module 4.”

However, current stock levels suggest the Raspberry Pi 4 is equally difficult to come by at the moment, perhaps as a result of a surge in purchases ahead of the holidays.

Skynet promised this won’t be its last Raspberry Pi Mega Cluster, but we’ll have to wait until availability improves and prices come down for version 2.0.

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