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Homemade mini supercluster combines 256 RISC-V microcontrollers

DIY: Why spend nearly half a million dollars on a used supercomputer when you can build your own miniature version at home? That’s exactly what one YouTuber recently did and the end result is quite rad.

Last year, bitluni assembled a RISC-V supercluster consisting of 16 CH32V003 microcontrollers. The microcontrollers were dirt cheap at just 10 cents apiece, meaning it only cost a couple of bucks to build the supercluster. bitluni teased that the supercluster modules might be tileable. Indeed, they are.

The latest build involves combining 16 superclusters together to create a megacluster. Rather than try and stuff everything onto a single PCB, bitluni created eight cluster blades – each of which hosts two superclusters. A time-lapse showcases the precise and tedious nature of the build.

LEDs were added to the superclusters although without an external clock source, they quickly get out of sync. Even as a jumbled mess, the light show still looks very cool.

The engineer then spends some time discussing a BUS protocol fix and going over testing using a digital storage oscilloscope – no doubt fascinating stuff if you can keep up. Personally, I am more into the hardware side of things.

In total, the build utilized 256 RISC-V microcontrollers at 48 MHz plus an additional 17 controllers clocked at 144 MHz. There are also 640 GPIO pins and 256 analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) circuits. Combined, the single clock rate would be in the neighborhood of 14.7 GHz, which bitluni described as not all that impressive but not too shabby, either.

The recently auctioned Cheyenne supercomputer, for comparison, packs 8,064 Intel Xeon CPUs, and fetched $480,000.

Bitluni has been a full-time YouTuber since mid-2017 and has dozens upon dozens of geeky homebrew videos to keep viewers entertained. Highlights include a $1 RISC-V game console, building a motorized Ikea sofa from scraps, and constructing a pocket bike in just 24 hours.

Found is a TechSpot feature where we share clever, funny or otherwise interesting stuff from around the web.

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