Edge cloud boost for Raspberry Pi 4

Edge cloud boost for Raspberry Pi 4
Business news |
Version 20.10 of Ubuntu from Canonical on the Raspberry Pi 4 card and module for the first time supports cloud software such as Kubernetes for distributed cloud software at the edge the network for industrial applications.
By Nick Flaherty

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A new version of Linux is enabling edge cloud capability on the latest Raspberry Pi compute card.

Version 20.10 of Ubuntu from Canonical for the first time provides full desktop Linux on the Raspberry Pi4 board and Compute module, but also supports cloud software such as Kubernetes. This has the potential to put distributed cloud software at the edge of the network for industrial applications.

“Over half of the seven million Raspberry Pi units we sell each year go into industrial and commercial applications, from digital signage to thin clients to process automation,” said Ebon Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and SoC architect at Broadcom in Cambridge. “Many of these applications use the familiar single-board Raspberry Pi, but for users who want a more compact or custom form factor, or on-board eMMC storage, Compute Module products provide a simple way to move from a Raspberry Pi-based prototype to volume production,” said Upton.

Micro clouds are a new class of infrastructure for on-demand compute at the edge. Micro clouds are distributed, minimal and come in small to extremely large scale. In Ubuntu 20.10, Canonical introduces its micro cloud stack that combines MAAS, LXD, MicroK8s and Ceph on Ubuntu, to deliver resilient pocket clouds hardened for mission-critical workloads in 5G RANs, industry 4.0 factories, V2X infrastructures, smart cities and health care facilities. 

On a Raspberry Pi, users can start with MicroK8s, to orchestrate highly available workloads at the edge or with LXD to build a home lab appliance using LXD’s clustering and virtual machine management capabilities. The Ubuntu 20.10 release introduces users a way to experiment, test, or develop with full cloud capabilities through the Raspberry Pi, including robotics and AI/ML.    

“In this release, we celebrate the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s commitment to put open computing in the hands of people all over the world,” said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO at Canonical. “We are honoured to support that initiative by optimising Ubuntu on the Raspberry Pi, whether  for personal use, educational purposes or as a foundation for their next business venture.”

This has been enabled by the higher performance of the 1.5Ghz processor. “Built on the same 64-bit quad-core BCM2711 application processor as Raspberry Pi 4, our Compute Module 4 delivers a step change in performance over its predecessors: faster CPU cores, better multimedia, more interfacing capabilities, and, for the first time, a choice of RAM densities and a wireless connectivity option,” said Upton.

However this version has a limited support life of nine months, compared to five years for the long term support (LTS) release of 20.04 earlier in the year, which would indicate that it is for development purposes rather than production roll out. Ubuntu Desktop is the most widely used OS on the AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, IBM and Oracle clouds.

The version also supports the Raspberry Pi 2, 3, and 4 models with 4GB or 8GB RAM. “From the classic Raspberry Pi board to the industrial grade Compute Module, this first step to an Ubuntu LTS on Raspberry Pi with long term support and security updates matches our commitment to widen access to the very best computing and open source capabilities” said Upton.

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