Performance analysis of single board computer clusters

Philip J. Basford, Steven Johnson, Colin Perkins, Tony Garnock Jones, Fung Po Tso, Dimitrios Pezaros, Robert Mullins, Eiko Yoneki, Jeremy Singer, Simon Cox

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The past few years have seen significant developments in Single Board Computer (SBC) hardware capabilities. These advances in SBCs translate directly into improvements in SBC clusters. In 2018 an individual SBC has more than four times the performance of a 64-node SBC cluster from 2013. This increase in performance has been accompanied by increases in energy efficiency (GFLOPS/W) and value for money (GFLOPS/$). We present systematic analysis of these metrics for three different SBC clusters composed of Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and Odroid C2 nodes respectively. A 16-node SBC cluster can achieve up to 60 GFLOPS, running at 80W. We believe that these improvements open new computational opportunities, whether this derives from a decrease in the physical volume required to provide a fixed amount of computation power for a portable cluster; or the amount of compute power that can be installed given a fixed budget in expendable compute scenarios. We also present a new SBC cluster construction form factor named Pi Stack; this has been designed to support edge compute applications rather than the educational use-cases favoured by previous methods. The improvements in SBC cluster performance and construction techniques mean that these SBC clusters are realising their potential as valuable developmental edge compute devices rather than just educational curiosities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-291
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems
Early online date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • RCUK
  • EP/P004024/1


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