Last week I shared my plans to build a low-cost, 12-core, 30-watt ARMv7 cluster running Ubuntu Linux. The ARM cluster that is built around the PandaBoard ES development boards is now online and producing results... Quite surprising results actually for a low-power Cortex-A9 compute cluster. Results include performance-per-Watt comparisons to Intel Atom and Ivy Bridge processors along with AMD's Fusion APU.
As talked about in last week's preview, six PandaBoard ES development boards were used to form this cluster. A single PandaBoard ES is already quite decent in terms of ARMv7 performance when running Ubuntu 12.04 thanks to improvements made in supporting the board's ARM SoC, Ubuntu switching to hardfp packages by default, and other Linux optimizations coming out of upstream and the Linaro camp. The PandaBoard ES uses the OMAP4460 SoC (this is an upgrade over the original PandaBoard bearing an OMAP4430 with 1.0GHz Cortex-A9 MPCore) from Texas Instruments that provides a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. (The OMAP4460 also has PowerVR graphics, but that is not important for these cluster purposes.) On the PandaBoard ES there is 1GB of system memory, 10/100 Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, and an SD/SDHC slot for storage.