The big (yet small) picture: The much-awaited Raspberry Pi 4 is out, and it comes with much improved performance – so much so that the board's launch website is almost entirely powered by 18 Raspberry Pi 4 devices. While smaller in scale than a previous project that used Raspberry Pi 3Bs, the new setup has been able to handle much of the pressure of a high-profile product launch.
The latest single-board computer from the Raspberry Pi Foundation is out, and it's faster and more power-hungry than its predecessor, bringing it closer to an entry-level PC. While the Pi community has been using the tiny and inexpensive device to power everything from watering a plant to escape rooms, its biggest challenge yet has been to handle millions of enthusiasts flocking to the Raspberry Pi 4 launch site this week.
With 2.5x the CPU power, up to 4GB of DDR4 RAM and a full-on gigabit Ethernet adapter, there's no question that it's fast for a single-board computer, though as noted on benchmarks ran by Tom’s Hardware it's still nowhere near as fast as a low-end Intel desktop CPU. That didn’t stop the team at Mythic Beasts from deploying a cluster of 18 Pi 4Bs that cost under $1,000 to help run the launch campaign -- with fourteen of them handling the main website, two serving static files and the last two for memcached.
The project seems even more ambitious when you find that it’s a smaller scale version of the original ‘Pi Cloud’ built by the same team using 108 Raspberry Pi 3Bs. The Pi 4B cluster also runs on a beta version of Debian Buster, which makes it impossible to rely on fast network file storage. The folks over at Mythic Beasts only had a few days to get it up and running – which is why Cloudflare is handling new connections. It's worth noting that a future firmware upgrade will allow these tiny new boards to take on even more tasks, such as running the database.
For a brief period on Monday, a configuration error on Verizon’s part made the launch site unreachable, and the new setup admittedly isn’t ready to take on everything related to running the full WordPress-based website. That is, server vendors shouldn’t be alarmed by this development, but if you’re in the market for a powerful single-board computer that starts at $35, the Raspberry Pi 4B is up there among the best.