Compact cluster specialist Turing Machines has officially opened crowdfunding for its second-generation Turing Pi 2 cluster kit — and smashed through its funding goal within three minutes of the campaign going live.
Turing Machines shot to fame three years ago with the launch of the original Turing Pi Clusterboard, a carrier for up to seven Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3/3+ systems-on-module (SOMs) designed to fit within a mini-ITX housing and offer an affordable and accessible platform for experimentation with cluster computing and home-lab projects. In October 2020 the company teased its next-generation version, the Turing Pi 2, swapping out the seven CM3/3+ modules for four more powerful Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 boards — while adding other new features, including support for SATA storage devices.
The past two years haven't been kind to the electronics industry, however, and while the company had originally hoped to launch the new board in 2021 it's only just managed to send the crowdfunding campaign live — to what turns out to be huge pent-up demand, easily passing its funding goal in the first three minutes.
As promised, the Turing Pi 2 is an impressively extensible carrier board for up to four Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4s: It includes two SATA-III storage ports, two mini-PCI Express (mPCIe) slots, one each HDMI and DSI outputs for external displays, two Ethernet ports linked to a L2 managed switch with VLAN support, three USB 3.0 ports, a SIM slot for optional cellular connectivity, an on-board real-time clock, baseboard management controller, and a single 40-pin general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header.
Despite its name, however, the Turing Pi 2 isn't exclusive to the Raspberry Pi family: The carrier board also boasts support for an in-house system-on-module developed by Turing Machines itself, the Turing Pi RK1. Built around the Rockchip RK3588, the RK1 is designed for applications where the Raspberry Pi would be underpowered: There are four Arm Cortex-A76 and four Arm Cortex-A55 processor cores, a neural processing unit (NPU) coprocessor with a claimed 6 TOPS of compute performance, a second-generation video processing unit (VPU) with 8k support, and up to 32GB of RAM — four times the maximum available on the Raspberry Pi.
If that isn't enough, the carrier also supports the NVIDIA Jetson Nano, Jetson TX2 NX, and Jetson Xavier NX modules, designed specifically for highly-parallel tasks including computer vision and robotics.
For those building a cluster with mixed workloads in mind, the modules can be installed in any combination until all four slots are filled. The management controller, meanwhile, provides remote access and, the company promises, easy bootstrapping to OS images and Kubernetes distributions as well as over-the-air update capabilities.
The Turing Pi 2 crowdfunding campaign is now live on Kickstarter, with physical rewards starting at $199 for a single Turing Pi 2 Cluster Board at Super Early Bird pricing, rising to $209 for Early Bird backers before settling at $219 — a $20 discount from the board's eventual selling price, the company promises — with delivery for all tiers scheduled for September. The SOMs, however, are not included and will need to be sourced separately.