Solar Powered Parallella

Give solar power to your Parallella with a few simple components.

This article describes a simple hardware hack: Making the Parallella run on solar energy.

Motivation: The fastest computers in the world gulp electricity at an alarming rate. For example, Tianhe-2 at the National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, China uses 17.8 megawatts of energy per year. In dollars, that’s roughly $17 million spent on electricity spent each year, depending on how the electricity is sourced.

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories estimate that the earth’s surface absorbs enough solar energy in ninety minutes to power every electrical device on the planet for a full year. A year’s worth of energy in ninety minutes! Surely we can use some of that energy to power our supercomputers.


The solar Parallella idea was driven by a few observations:

Can a cell phone solar charger be hacked to power Parallella? Yes!

Building the Hybrid Cable

Here’s how to get started…

Making the connections.

You’re done! Plug everything in and watch your Parallella boot up. Note that this configuration will also power the Parallella’s cooling fan.

Parallella running on solar power.

Proof of Concept

It probably doesn’t make sense to call this a project. It’s more of a proof of concept. Scaling up will cost money and time. But the benefits of solar energy, including cost savings and reduced carbon footprint, make this a worthwhile path to pursue.