IBM is teaming up with Dutch astronomers to develop computer systems that will be able to analyse the huge glut of data from the next generation of telescopes that will help explore the origins of the universe.
IBM and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (Astron) have unveiled a five-year, €33bn partnership to develop lightening quick, low-power exascale computer systems, termed DOME.
The aim is to build computers that can analyse data from the proposed international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – the world's most powerful radio telescope, which is due to be completed by 2024.
“If you take the current global daily internet traffic and multiply it by two, you are in the range of the data set that the SKA radio telescope will be collecting every day,” said Ton Engbersen of IBM Research.
“This is big data analytics to the extreme.”
The five-year project will look at everything from processors and interconnect technologies to new tape storage systems and so-called nanophotonics systems to create computers that can process and transfer massive data volumes, without consuming vast amounts of energy.
“Large research infrastructures like the SKA require extremely powerful computer systems to process all the data. The only acceptable way to build and operate these systems is to dramatically reduce their power consumption,” said Marco de Vos, managing director of Astron.
The SKA telescope will be used to explore evolving galaxies, dark matter and as well as exploring the very early universe – mapping regions of space more than 13 billion years old.
It will have millions of antennas dotted across a vast area to collect radio signals, with the central hub likely to be in either Australia or South Africa.
It is expected to collect a few exabytes worth of data each day, and require up to 1,500 petabytes of storage each year.
More information on the SKA's aims and IBM's project with Astron can be found below.
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