Turing Pi 2 Packs Up to Four Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4s Into a Sleek Cluster with mPCIe, SATA

Cluster design shrinks from seven nodes to four, but offers considerably more flexibility and peripheral access — including SATA drives.

Turing Machines, the company behind the Turing Pi carrier board which turns up to seven Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 or Compute Module 3+ boards into a cluster, is back with a streamlined new design for the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.

"After we released the original 7 nodes Turing Pi, we had many questions. What to do next, how to increase the product’s value, what compute modules to choose, how many nodes, etc," the company explains. "We decided to determine the minimal cluster block size with options to connect hard drives and extension boards. The cluster block should be a self-sustained base node and with ample scope of scale."

"Next, we wanted the minimum cluster blocks to have an option to connect and form cluster federations and, at the same time, be cost-efficient and easy to scale. The speed of scale should be higher than connecting regular computers on the network and cheaper than the typical server hardware. Another thing, the minimum cluster units should be compact enough, mobile, energy-efficient, cost-effective, and easy to maintain. This is one of the key differences between server racks and everything related to them."

The revised Turing Pi 2 design uses the newly-launched Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, which offers up to 8GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage per node. Unlike the previous design, though, these aren't inserted directly into the motherboard; instead, they connect to a carrier board dubbed the Turing Pi Compute Module which offers a more familiar SODIMM-style edge connector and a hefty heatsink; it's this which connects to the Turing Pi 2 board themselves.

Each node may receive access to different peripherals, depending on where it is in the cluster: The first two nodes can connect to a mini-PCI Express slot each, while a third node connects to a dual-port SATA 6.0Gb/s hard drive controller. A remaining node receives no direct peripheral access of its own, taking on management tasks. A managed switch, 40-pin GPIO headers for each node, audio, HDMI, dual Ethernet, four USB ports, a DSI connector, ATX connector for power, and a fan header for each node complete the board's design.

"The Turing Pi 2 is more functional than V1 and we also expect it to be cheaper to manufacture," the company notes. "We are very grateful to everyone who supported us and baked the Turing Pi project by purchasing the Turing Pi V1. The Turing Pi 2 wouldn’t be possible without your support. As a way to thank our supporters, we will offer 25% off for the Turing Pi 2 for everyone who purchased the V1."

The new Turing Pi 2 is scheduled to launch some time next year; more information is available on the official website. The company has also hinted at new Turing Pi Compute Modules based on other companies' systems-on-chips (SoCs), which would be interchangeable with the Raspberry Pi version.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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