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IBM Space Science

IBM Designing Superman Servers For World's Largest Telescope 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the batman-servers-were-too-melancholy dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "How's this for a daunting task? By 2017, IBM must develop low-power microservers that can handle 10 times the traffic of today's Internet — and resist blowing desert sands, to boot. Sound impossible? Hopefully not. Those are the design parameters of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Project, the world's largest radio telescope, located in South Africa and Australia amid some of the world's most rugged terrain. It will be up to the SKA-specific business unit of South Africa's National Research Foundation, IBM, and ASTON (also known as the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy) to jointly design the servers. Scientists from all three organizations will collaborate remotely and at the newly established ASTRON & IBM Center for Exascale Technology in Drenthe, the Netherlands. By peering into the furthest regions of space, the SKA project hopes to glimpse 'back in time,' where the radio waves from some of the earliest moments of the universe — before stars were formed — are still detectable. The hardware is powerful enough to pick up an airport radar on a planet 50 light-years away, according to the SKA team."
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IBM Designing Superman Servers For World's Largest Telescope

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  • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @07:51PM (#43154503)

    can handle 10 times the traffic of today's Internet

    Yeah, you can get something on the front page of slashdot if you use stupid, misleading metrics like this. Soulskill has his head buried in the sand.

    A single computer, probably not.
    Otherwise, the entire SKA will indeed produce 10 times the amount of data trafficking the today's internet [skatelescope.org].

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PlastikMissle (2498382) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @08:07PM (#43154621)
    From the Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org]:

    "Suitable sites for the SKA telescope need to be in unpopulated areas with guaranteed very low levels of man-made radio interference. Four sites were initially proposed in South Africa, Australia, Argentina and China.[16] After considerable site evaluation surveys, Argentina and China were dropped and the other two sites were shortlisted (with New Zealand joining the Australian bid, and 8 other African countries joining the South African bid):"
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @08:12PM (#43154661)

    True, but that's getting pretty common in large-scale scientific applications these days. The LHC generates about 100 terabytes per second, for example. The numbers on the page you linked say SKA will generate "enough raw data to fill 15 million 64 GB iPods every day", which is actually an order of magnitude lower: 15 million * 64 GB = 960 PB per day. Divide that by 86400 seconds in a day, and you get about 11 TB/s.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @08:41PM (#43154925)

    True, but that's getting pretty common in large-scale scientific applications these days. The LHC generates about 100 terabytes per second, for example. The numbers on the page you linked say SKA will generate "enough raw data to fill 15 million 64 GB iPods every day", which is actually an order of magnitude lower: 15 million * 64 GB = 960 PB per day. Divide that by 86400 seconds in a day, and you get about 11 TB/s.

    While LHC generates 10 times more data in a single experiment (usually scheduled months or years ahead), think that SKA will generate data each day every day.

  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:22AM (#43157167)

    This link [av.it.pt] is a really interesting info on some of the SKA signal processing.

    The SAK's power budget is 58MW for signal processing - this is such a high running cost that by spending 30 Million Euro on developing a few custom ASICs to halve that power usage will pay off in 9 months!

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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