I've read many threads about gaming clusters that always end up in "your software isn't built for clustering", but I've been lead to believe that VMware IS built for clusters.

That being said, if I were to build a cluster of 32 (or 33 if a controller is needed) RPI B+, then host a single windows desktop through VMware, would I then have the same performance of a 1GHz, 32-Core 16GB computer?

I would like to build a machine that can be dedicated to rendering video, so that work doesn't need to be done on my editing system, and I know Adobe Media Encoder is multi thread optimized, but they don't have a Linux version.


3 Answers 3


No, this is not how any of this works.

  1. (Currently) VMware only works on x86 based instruction sets, which the RPI is not.
  2. VMware can manage clusters, but that doesn't imply one VM can span across multiple nodes.
  3. An active VM is always on exactly one host ... except for a few seconds when migrating, but even then it cannot use the combined resources of both hosts. Especially your use case of one virtual computer using all available 32 cores is not possible.
  4. Even if such a construct was possible, your application still needs multi thread support to leverage it.
  5. A multi threaded piece of software may very well perform poorly, if at all, on such a construct, because of timing and memory coherency issues.
  6. The expected performance of such a system is dramatically lower than singular 1Ghz 32 Core machine, because the 32 nodes need to actively coordinate and work together, to act as one system. Especially transferring data from one node to another is several orders of magnitude slower than transferring data from one process to another within the same system.

However, you can create clusters of RPIs and create your own mini supercomputer, for instance for distcc. Still, for the price of 32 RPIs you can buy a single x86 based PC which easily outperforms your 32 RPI cluster.


You can use docker to virtualize on a Raspberry Pi. As for running a desktop on it: yes, you probably could but, it would be a Linux desktop and most likely Debian derivative. You would not be able span the one container across multiple nodes. You could replicate a container across many nodes, even a service but not one container on many nodes.


Not an exact answer to your question because no VMWare solution is able to deliver such experience. But as your purpose "installing some OS (like windows) on a cluster of RPIs" is concerned and not sticking to a solution from VMWare, you can use Canonical's MaaS to create a cloud instance out of a cluster of RPIs to get a relevant answer close enough to your original question. Just follow this tutorial to find out how: Build your own bare metal cloud using a Raspberry Pi cluster with MAAS .

The summary is you install MaaS on your control machine and configure it to attach RPIs to the cluster and then deploy VMs on this cluster like you do on any cloud provider. Also this tutorial includes controlling power on/off any of your cluster machines which makes it complicated far more than your requirements.

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