Astron, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and IBM today announced an initial 32.9 million euro, five-year collaboration to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems targeted for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
The SKA is an international consortium to build the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Scientists estimate that the processing power required to operate the telescope will be equal to several millions of today's fastest computers.
Astron is one of the leading scientific partners in the international consortium that is developing the SKA. Upon completion in 2024, the telescope will be used to explore evolving galaxies, dark matter and even the very origins of the universe - dating back more than 13 billion years.
The next generation of large scientific instruments, of which the SKA is a key example, requires a high-performance computing architecture and data transfer links with a capacity that far exceeds current state-of-the-art technology.
To solve this unprecedented challenge, Astron and IBM scientists in the Netherlands and Switzerland have launched an initial five-year collaboration called Dome, named for the protective cover on telescopes and the famous Swiss mountain.
Dome will investigate emerging technologies for large-scale and efficient exascale computing, data transport and storage processes, and streaming analytics that will be required to read, store and analyse all the raw data that will be collected daily. To put in perspective, the SKA is expected to generate one exabyte daily, while 18 exabytes is the limit of what is addressable with today's 64-bit computer architectures (it is exactly 18.4467441 ◊ 10E19).