Scalenode - server-oriented baseboard for Raspberry Pi 4 compute module


Topics: Open cloud systems, Open hardware

To address the complex use cases of our customers as well as our internal needs, Antmicro builds flexible automation, continuous integration and deployment software and hybrid compute infrastructure, including server and edge GPUs, FPGAs and CPUs of various architectures.

Our success in the edge-to-cloud AI systems has generated a requirement for Arm-centric workloads such as build and testing rigs and over-the-air management infrastructure on the one hand, as well as the need for on-demand compute power that can be easily and transparently scaled on the other. Coupled with the rise of cheap and powerful Arm-based COTS hardware such as the Raspberry Pi 4, those needs inspired yet another of Antmicro’s many open hardware projects - the Scalenode, a small and scalable open source compute node for the Arm-based Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module.


Picking Raspberry for the server room

After going through a number of iterations over the years and gaining huge popularity among hobbyists and in commercial products, the Raspberry Pi platform has become quite a powerful computer offering up to 8GB of RAM, a 1.5 Ghz quad-core 64-bit Arm CPU and virtualization capabilities. It also comes in a compute module form factor, which makes it an ideal choice both for building robust, scalable, small runners for CI and similar workloads, as well as creating custom, open source hardware and software based systems for edge AI applications - which is one of Antmicro’s major focus areas.

A scalable compute swarm

Built with server applications in mind, Scalenode is effectively a baseboard for Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module offering Gigabit Etherner with PoE and several expansion connectors in a server-oriented form factor. It features an M.2 key M PCIe connector for SSD storage or add-on boards that can be used for AI acceleration, e.g. with Google Coral accelerator. To ensure passive cooling of the compute node we designed a custom enclosure, which will also be released as open source. Thanks to its small form factor, as many as 18 Scalenode baseboards fit in a 1U server rack, providing a substantial amount of scalable compute.

Scalenode joins a wide range of open hardware by Antmicro, including server-oriented solutions like the Artix-7 FPGA-based and Lattice ECP5 FPGA-based DC-SCM designs recently adopted by the LibreBMC group in OpenPOWER.

We help customers from a broad variety of verticals build scalable and customizable server solutions. Using open source components, we can ensure that our products are vendor-neutral and can be easily modified and scaled. Get in touch with us at to find out how our services can help you develop a robust and future-proof server solution, and how our technology can transform your server room to capitalize on the opportunities offered by recent advances in open source hardware and software.

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