Dome Newsletter 8
Date: 28-09-2016
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ASTRON & IBM Center for Exascale Technology
Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>,

The Dome project is steadily advancing. Its focus is on continuously advancing technologies needed to address the exascale challenge of the SKA telescope. We are happy to report that Dome is yielding many inspiring results. For today’s newsletter, we have selected a handful of stories documenting the latest results for you:
  • Novel, energy-efficient transport and processing of data streams using optics;
  • An evaluation of accelerators best suited for the SKA processing cores;
  • Tools for predicting energy consumption when applications need to scale to exascale;
  • A new, faster FPGA platform;
  • An innovative method to classify the value of data in order to achieve optimal retrieval latency.

As the original Dome project will come to an end in 2017, we are happy to report that negotiations for continuation on a wider scale, in the form of the ERCET programme, are well under way.

On the SKA front a lot has happened as well. Firstly, the SKA consortia have all completed their preliminary design reviews and are now steadily progressing towards their critical design reviews, most of which will be finished in 2017. Secondly, the European Union's Research and Innovation Programme, Horizon 2020, has awarded 5 million euro to the SKA project this year, to support the detailed design of the infrastructure at the two telescope sites. And, last but not least, the ASTRON-led AENEAS Horizon 2020 proposal was awarded 3 million Euro for the development of a SKA European Science Data Center.

In April 2016, the EU identified SKA as a Landmark Project in its Research Infrastructure Roadmap 2016. ASTRON and IBM could not agree more, continuing work on our landmark project Dome. And of course, we will continue to keep you posted. Happy reading!

Albert-Jan Boonstra and Ton Engbersen Scientific Directors Dome for ASTRON and IBM
Conference: Science in a Digital World

On 13 October the Netherlands eScience Center will organize the 4th National eScience Symposium in the Amsterdam ArenA. The focus of this symposium will be: “Science in a Digital World”. The special track devoted to Big Data in Astronomy is jointly organized by the NL eScience Centre and ASTRON. As the Dome research has been focusing on Big Data from the start, we expect that this symposium will also be of interest to our readers.
Read more
INVITATION: Dome workshop on designing for testability

ASTRON and IBM cordially invite colleagues interested in testing digital systems to attend this interactive and hands-on Dome workshop. The workshop will be held on 17 November 2016. This will be a practical and interactive get-together. You can count on presentations and demonstrations by engineers form Variass, Batenburg, Transfer/JTAG, IBM, and ASTRON.
Read more
ERCET: preparatory research for a permanent facility
For ERCET, the Europeran Research Center for Exascale Technology, partners are currently investigating the possibility of creating a permanent research facility. Its research would focus on computer science, data science and core technology. The latter comprises for example material sciences, micro datacenters and data analytics.
Astrodata written in light: analog over fibre and photonic beamforming

Talking to Bert Offrein, Folkert Horst and Peter Maat

Peter Maat is based in Dwingeloo, Bert Offrein and Folkert Horst both work in the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich. Together, they’re looking for ways to get the radio signal from the antenna to a central processing location and to make sure the antennas are aiming for the right spot at the right time. Their research involves sending analogue signals through optical fibre efficiently. And designing a new optical chip with potential reaching far beyond the SKA. Read the interview.
Counting milliseconds and Watts: in search of the best accelerators and algorithms

Talking to John Romein and Bram Veenboer

Last month, August 2016, John Romein has presented a new paper: “A Comparison of Accelerator Architectures for Radio-Astronomical Signal-Processing Algorithms”. Accelerators are needed to enable high-performance computing on SKA-level and various types have been tested. Together with Bram Veenboer, he is now moving on to testing FPGAs, which will also be added to the comparison. And in the meantime, they’re working on a complex algorithm for efficient imaging. Read more.
The bandwidth-baseline oracle: an unforgiving tool predicting energy consumption

Talking to Albert-Jan Boonstra and Rik Jongerius

When it comes to actually being able to operate the SKA, one of the main questions is: how much energy will it take? With a given energy budget and the expected development of energy prices, we have a fairly good idea of how many megawatts we can use. But the world’s largest radio telescope still has to be built. Nobody knows exactly how much energy it will consume. Nobody at all? Well, Rik Jongerius and Albert-Jan Boonstra seem to have some answers. Read more
Prepare for take-off: brand new FPGA platform is being prototyped

Talking to André Gunst, Gijs Schoonderbeek and Leandro Fiorin

André Gunst and Leandro Fiorin are both working on new technology for the SKA’s CSP (central signal processor). The CSP translates digitized telescope signals into the data we need, to create an image of what is happening in deep space. Leandro has designed an ASIC implementing a custom energy-efficient and programmable accelerator architecture: a new chip which has been optimized to minimize the power consumption of the CSP kernels. André’s focus is on the CSP system design. Together with some colleagues from Australia and New Zealand Gijs Schoonderbeek was involved in developing a new FPGA board. Read more.
Thinking like humans do: we want our info fast, correct and not too pricy

Talking to Yusik Kim

Yusik Kim and his team members have developed a highly pragmatic cost model for science data centres. “Even though it involves a number of assumptions, we can now for the first time calculate the cost of running such a datacentre for the SKA. I had to do a lot of digging on the internet to check architectures, connections and prices, but the results are good.” Rewarding work. Nevertheless, there is something else for us to talk about. Something more exciting. Something to do with predicting our actions. Read more.
From PhD to doctorate

Rik Jongerius (IBM Research) started working on the DOME project in 2012 and is the first PhD candidate to obtain his doctorate. On September, 20th he successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Exascale Computer System Design: The Square Kilometre Array” at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Rik performed his research at the ASTRON & IBM Center for Exascale Technology in Dwingeloo in the context of the DOME project. Read more.

We are very sad to have lost our dear colleague, Karin Spijkerman. She died on 16 July 2016, aged 52. Read more.

Albert-Jan Boonstra
Oude Hoogeveensedijk 4
7991 PD Dwingeloo
The Netherlands
T +31 521 595 100

Ton Engbersen
Saumerstrasse 4
T +41 44 7248302
Founding Project Partners

The DOME project is supported by the following entities


DOME is the research project in which ASTRON and IBM have joined forces to create new technology for handling the huge amounts of data that will be generated by the Square Kilometre Array. It is one of the most data-intensive research projects ever. If you would like any further information, please contact Albert-Jan Boonstra, scientific director DOME for ASTRON, or Ton Engbersen, scientific director DOME for IBM Research

Copyright © 2016 ASTRON, All rights reserved.

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