Grappolo taking center stage

Grappolo taking centre stagemagPi

Our very own grid engine cluster computer, Grappolo is featured in the June issue of MagPi (p10-11), a monthly magazine produced by RaspberryPi. The article, Flooding Workshop covers Spatial Ecology’s co-founder, Stefano Casalegno, Ph.D. and the workshop he ran during the annual Environment and Sustainability Day event hosted by the University of Exeter’s Environmental Sustainability Institute (ESI). The workshop, titled Flooding Risk, was attended by university students and demonstrated geospatial modelling techniques for assessing flood risk in Cornwall and Devon (UK). Flooding Risk was voted best workshop by students as the best of the day’s events.

So what exactly is MagPi’s interest in the event? One word: Grappolo. Grappolo is Italian for bunch, or cluster. Grappolo is a cluster of RaspberryPi hardware, an immensely powerful piece of computing hardware designed for teaching. Grappolo, then, is figuratively a ‘bunch of raspberries’, but offers much more. Grappolo simulates the functionality of the biggest cluster computing facility in the South West U.K., but its portability and design makes it an ideal tool for teaching Big Data processing methods, instead of serving as a raw computation device.

The students who participated in the workshop worked with Big Data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, but also LiDAR data from the locally based Tellus project. These big datasets are exactly what Grappolo was designed to process, and the learning environment of the Flooding Risk workshop is the optimal forum for Grappolo to perform. Grappolo will also be used as a teaching tool in Spatial Ecology’s upcoming Summer School 2016 held in Matera, Italy. Grappolo provides a powerful processing environment while being both portable, and affordable, so we are very excited to have MagPi readers’ attention.