Monday, April 2, 2012

IBM to build gigantor computer for astronomy

IBM announced it has won a $42 million contract to work with the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) to research the exascale computer systems that are needed for their radio telescope, known as Square Kilometer Array (SKA). The project, when completed in 2024, is perhaps one of the biggest scientific and computing efforts of all time.
IBM plans to implement computing power that will read, store, and analyze one exabyte of raw data per day. The SKA is to be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. It is estimated that the processing power required to operate the telescope will be the equivalent to several millions of today’s fastest computers. The telescope will be used to explore evolving galaxies, dark matter, and data from the creation of the universe.

ASTRON and IBM will investigate 3D stacked chips for more energy-efficient computing. They will also look at advanced optical technologies and nanophotonics to optimize data transfers.
The SKA will use a technology for low-frequency array (LOFAR), which serves as a spotter scope for the larger array. The SKA itself will have millions of antennae to collect radio signals, with the collection area equivalent to a square kilometer. The telescope will be 50 times more sensitive at picking up radio waves than earlier devices. It will also be 10,000 times faster than previous instruments. The site for the SKA is expected to be selected this later year. Australia/New Zealand and South Africa taking top spots, since radio pollution is not a great concern in those regions.

Definitely not your average gaming rig.

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