The Bitscope Blade is from the same people who make the Bitscope Oscilloscope & Analyzer tools. It's a host board that allows you to host one to four raspberry Pi and provides power and connectivity. You can stack a series of blades into a chassis and power these from a shared supply.
Here's Bruce from Bitscope describing it in more detail.
Render farm Overview
Element14 invited me to take a look at these blades so I started by reading the above page. One of the suggestions was for a render farm for the open source 3D modelling and animation package blender. This seemed like a great way to prove out the system in a real-world scenario.
My farm will consist of 4 Pi with one acting as a controller node. That will connect to the USB external disk and have a secondary network connection (possibly wifi) so I can copy the files to be rendered and download any packages needed.
The are four key elements in a render farm:
- Shared Storage
- Configuration management
The BitScope Blade provides the power to the Pi via the 40way sockets. The blade has a beefy switch mode power supply in the form of an and a few discrete components which can provide 3A for the Pi and any accessories. The supply can take anything from 9v to 48v as an input. There are some big capacitors to handle any rush of current when starting up. I hope to power the external disk from the same supply but I do have the option of powering that independently if required. I'll likely use a spare 1U ATX power supply to provide power to the blade and router as I can grab 12V of that for both of them.
The network will be connected up with Cat 5e cables and an old 10/100 router.
The control node will connect to a USB disk which will be shared over the network.
For four nodes the configuration of the nodes is straightforward and can be done manually, for a larger system you'd need to consider how configuration and monitoring can be automated. Some script files will likely be used to help with that.
The next post in this series will look at how I setup the hardware.