Why You Might Need a Raspberry Pi Cluster

“What’s the point of a Raspberry Pi cluster?”

We’ve seen this question being asked so many times, we’ve also seen many vague answers like “because we can”, or “it’s fun”, or “it’s challenging”, or “you get to learn something”, etc.

Here’s the right answer, you build a Raspberry Pi Cluster not just because you can, but because it’s also a low-cost, versatile learning system over all kinds of clustered-computing related technologies.

What is an RPI Cluster

It’s simple, an RPI cluster is basically multiple Raspberry Pis working together and are treated as one system, behind all the cloud services (AWS/GCP/Azure/etc.) you use, is a giant net with hundreds of thousands of computers, and a Raspberry Pi cluster is just a mini version of that and you can use it to self-educate on how those expensive server clusters are configured/managed, how applications are being depolyed and how things in a cloud environment really work from start to finish.

Things You Can Do w/ Raspberry Pi Clusters

We selected a list of typical use cases for RPI clusters, if it’s your first time building one, or if you are thinking about adding a row of RPIs to your existing server rack, these ideas should help you get started.

And if you are a cluster pro, here're what we have:

1. Build & Learn How Kubernetes Clusters Work

This video from the LearnLinuxTV’s Youtube channel demonstrates the whole process of setting up Kubernetes on a Raspberry Pi cluster. If you want to dive deeper, Jeff Geerling has a book titled “Kubernetes 101”, which covers all the basics about K8S with real-world examples.  

2. Hosting Your Own Websites, Databases, Private Servers, etc.

This Youtube Channel has a whole series of videos on hosting websites with your Raspberry Pis.

3. Build Private Minecraft/Terraria/etc. Game Servers

Jeff Geerling has an excellent video on how to set up a Minecraft server on a Raspberry Pi cluster running Kubernetes & Docker containers.

4. NAS Server & File Sharing Systems

Christopher from ExplainingComputers has a full video with detailed instructions on creating an OpenMediaVault NAS with your Raspberry Pi 4. Jeff Geerling also pulls off some interesting NAS builds with CM4 and some SSDs.

5.Home Automation Servers

Andreas’s video on building RPI-powered home automation servers is just another good use case for an RPI cluster.

6. Blender Rendering Farms

Don has a video on using Raspberry Pi clusters for 3D rendering with blender, and the results turn out to be really impressive.

7. Build Quiet Homelabs

See how Jeff from Techno Dad Life made an RPI-only home lab from scratch, and another video from LearnLinuxTV should give you some solid reasons for doing so.

And if you feel like building one, head over to the r/homelab subreddit for more cool Raspberry Pi builds and ideas.

8. An ARM-based Supercomputer

If you are crazy enough, like the guys from Oracle, you can even build your own RPI supercomputer, the vlog above shows how they created the Super Pi project. 

And a comment from a fellow Youtuber really lays out some amazing facts about SBC clusters: