Progress at the ASTRON & IBM Center for Exascale Technology
The previous SKA Newsletter (http://www.skatelescope.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/SKA_NEWSLETTER_VOLUME_25.pdf) included a report on the DOME project, a collaboration between ASTRON and IBM in which novel approaches in exascale computing are being investigated at the newly established ASTRON & IBM Center for Exascale Technology in Drenthe, the Netherlands. In December 2012, SKA South Africa joined ASTRON and IBM in the DOME project (read more: http://www.skatelescope.org/news/big-bang-meets-big-data/). Scientists will collaborate remotely and at the Center for Exascale Technology. More specifically, scientists from SKA South Africa will focus on fundamental research into signal processing and advanced computing algorithms for the capture, processing, and analysis of SKA data. The DOME team is researching and prototyping micro-server architectures based on liquid-cooled 3D stacked chips. The team in South Africa will extend this research to make the micro-servers “desert proof” to handle the extreme environmental conditions at the SKA telescope sites. The third focus area of the South Africa collaboration is using the MeerKat telescope for developing and testing a sophisticated software programme that will aid in the design of the entire computing system holistically and optimally, taking into account cost and performance trade-off.
The DOME project was presented at CeBIT 2013 in Hannover as part of the Big-Data focus area of the IBM booth. CeBIT was opened by Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. The picture shows the Chancellor at the IBM Booth talking to the IBM Germany General Manager Martina Koederitz. The inset (left below) shows some of the project results presented at the DOME booth: a 3-D stacked chip, a phase-change memory chip, a low power ADC chip so small a magnifier is needed to see it, and a very thin photonic link replacing a wire stack the size of a small tree trunk. Also a printed circuit board for a micro-server was on display, produced by a manufacturer in Drenthe, the Netherlands.
In March, at the third face-to-face meeting at ASTRON the progress of the DOME project was presented and discussed. One of the results presented was the computational and data transport cost for parts of the LOFAR and SKA phase-one signal processing chains. This work is part of and based on the LOFAR retrospective analysis. The figure shows, as an example, how the compute requirements for different processing steps scale with number of telescope stations.
The DOME project is currently recruiting new employees, several positions are still open. On March 26, IBM and ASTRON scientists hosted a SmartCloud virtual recruiting event for several open positions within the DOME project. The on-line event with presentations, questions and answers was well-attended.
The initial five-year DOME collaboration is realized with financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and from the Province of Drenthe. More information about the DOME project can be found at:
Dome videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU7KNRpn6co