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Astron and IBM begin research collaboration

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The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, Astron, and IBM have embarked on a five-year, 32.9 million Euro collaboration to research fast and low-power exascale computer systems. These systems will be deployed for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international consortium to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. When completed in 2024, the SKA is expected to produce a few exabytes of data per day for a single beam per one square kilometer. After processing this data, the expectation is that between 300 and 1,500 petabytes of data per year will need to be stored.

The collaboration, named Dome, will investigate emerging technologies for large-scale and efficient exascale computing, data transport and storage processes, as well as streaming analytics that will be required to read, store and analyse the raw data being collected daily. Scientists from both organisations will collaborate at the newly-established Astron and IBM Center for Exascale Technology in Drenthe, the Netherlands. Specifically, they will investigate advanced accelerators and 3D stacked chips for more energy-efficient computing. They will also research novel optical interconnect technologies and nanophotonics to optimise large data transfers, in addition to high-performance storage systems based on next-generation tape systems and novel phase-change memory technologies.