High-speed computing for Britain's largest radio telescope

The University of Manchester is developing a high-speed data crunching facility that will be crucial for the UK's new radio telescope.

The £1.1bn (€1.5bn) Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be around 200 times bigger and 100,000 times more powerful than the biggest radio telescope in the UK at the moment. It will be able to collect data over an area equivalent to around 200 football pitches.

It will give astronomers the ability to probe the early Universe, test Einstein's theory of relativity, learn more about mysterious dark matter and energy – and even search for signs of alien life.

The data will be gathered by 128,000 receivers, which will generate very large volumes of data. To solve this problem, the University of Manchester and IBM have signed an agreement to design the advanced processing systems.

They will look across the range of IBM's high-speed multi-core processing technologies for the solution that is best suited to their needs.

Dr Andrew Faulkner, one of the project engineers, said: 'We are looking at processing an enormous amount of data at astonishing speeds and then stitching it all together to make an system of unprecedented capability.'

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