Project: Mounting Clusterboard in an ATX Mini Tower

Project: Mounting Clusterboard in an ATX Mini Tower

Did you know the PINE64 Clusterboard has mounting holes in a mini-ITX pattern that is also supported by most ATX cases?

Just to test this out, we grabbed a decommissioned 10-year-old desktop computer, stripped it, and mounted the Clusterboard in it. Nice fit, and surprisingly tiny! There's plenty of room in there (with some slight case modifications to allow access to the Clusterboards' Ethernet ports) to add multiple stacked Clusterboards.

In addition, a ROCKPro64 or other SBC can be mounted in the free space of the system to act as a master for the cluster, not to mention a Gigabit Ethernet switch and several hard drives as well. Here's a picture with a ROCKPro64 and a PCI-E SATA card attached, that could easily control a couple of large capacity hard drives:

To properly mount it, we would have to drill a few holes into the existing case and use M3 posts to secure it. Check out how the ports on the ROCKPro64 (HDMI, Ethernet, Power) line up with the PCI cutouts on the case (we don't know if they designed the ROCKPro64 layout this way on purpose, but we'll say they did):

An ever-so-slight bit of filing may need to be done to provide clearance for the cable connectors (depending on your particular model of case), but it would be a minor mod.

Using the presently-available SOPine modules, this Clusterboard fully populated would provide 28x ARM A53 64-bit cores with a total of 14GB of RAM. In this ATX case, we could easily stack 4 Clusterboards (CB) which with the SOPine modules and optional ROCKPro64 (RP64) acting as the Master could amount to:

  • 116x A53 64-bit cores (CB & RP64)
  • 2x A72 64-bit cores (RP64)
  • 60GB RAM (CB & RP64)
  • 29x microSD slots (CB & RP64)
  • 5x eMMC sockets (CB & RP64)
  • 30x USB2.0 ports (CB & RP64)
  • 2x USB3.0 ports (RP64)
  • 2x SATA3 6Gbps ports (RP64)
  • Too many GPIO pins to count
With the upcoming SOEdge modules, this could be an amazing AI machine as well.

This could be a great high-capacity NAS, Docker swarm, Kubernetes, IP Camera Server, Object Recognition Server, Network Packet Monitor, Hosted Server Cluster, or many other things! Using a recycled ATX case and power supply, all for less than $400 (which includes the Clusterboard, 7x SOPine A64 Compute Modules, ROCKPro64, PCI-E card, and Gigabit Ethernet switch), plus the cost of any drives you'd like to add.

Let us know what we should use something like this for in the comments below!

Additional Reading

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