A Hazelcast employee writes today to tell us about a fascinating, nerdy-as-all-get-out project that’s bound to capture your interest:

High-level but hands-on:
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One of Hazelcast’s engineers built a scale-model data center with 48 Raspberry Pi PCs and a boatload of Legos to show off at Oracle’s Java conference, JavaOne, coming next week.

Hazelcast (which just scored a $2.5 million investment) makes open source software to turn a network of commodity PCs into a single virtual multiprocessor supercomputer with shared RAM and CPU.

“The software can be configured in a fully replicated mode which means that you can take out any combination of data centers and the application will continue to hum along nicely,” said a company rep. “This is for full data center redundancy and simulates disasters like, say a nuclear attack against your Network Operations Center.”

So Hazelcast engineer Fuad Malikov decided we needed a way to demonstrate this in a fully functioning data center environment.

“The bigger the cluster, the more impressive the Hazelcast demo is,” said Malikov in an e-mail exchange with VentureBeat.

“Our stuff thrives in the enterprise data center. We had a demo last year at JavaOne with a cluster of three Raspberry Pi computers and it just snowballed from there. Now we can bring the enterprise data center into our booth. My next step will be to buy some little Lego Hazelcast employee people who can walk around inside our data center and support the cluster.”

To be noted: Hazelcast is also announcing today that it’s raised $2.5M in venture financing. “We have on our board now the lead investor of Springsource, Mulesoft, Maven, Engine Yard, Datastax [Cassandra NoSQL DB] Salil Deshpande, the creator of the Java Spring Framework, Rod Johnson and former CEO of WebLogic, Ali Kutay,” writes a company rep.

Here’s a handful of pics showing off the masterwork itself:

Hardware hacking is so of-the-moment right now, from Kickstarter campaigns to venture-funded gadgets to quickie projects like this one. Each project adds something fascinating to the world of connected devices and lowers the barriers between developers and makers.

And can we talk for a minute about Lego? Oh my gosh, nothing is hotter. The Lego team actually unveiled a robotics line at E3 earlier this year. Sony decided to get in on the action, too, with its own line of programmable bots.

And one of our favorite hardware startups, Littlebits, makes a computer-Lego hybrid toy perfect for learning how hardware components work together.

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