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IBM Announces Green Supercomputing Project

IBM and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) recently announced a research project code-named DOME. The project will investigate green supercomputing. The project is expected to be completed in 2017. IBM plans to use the research to build a green supercomputing system for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international group of scientists from 20 countries. Their mission is to build the largest radio telescope on earth with sensitivities beyond current technologies.

The organization heading up the development of the SKA is ASTRON. It is estimated that it will take 10 years to build the telescope. The resulting technology will allow the telescope to explore the most distant reaches of the universe to 13 billion years in the past.

To get an idea of the processing power the telescope will require, Tom Engbersen of IBM says, "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 Square Kilometre Array radio telescope will be collecting every day. This is Big Data Analytics to the extreme. With DOME we will embark on one of the most dataintensive science projects ever planned, which will eventually have much broader applications beyond radio astronomy research."

In other words, IBM and ASTRON have to start from scratch to come up with innovated ways to produce equipment that can handle the massive amounts of data that the telescope will collect. One innovation is the use of 3D stacked chips for green supercomputing.

Marco de Vos os ASTRON says, "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. DOME gives us unique opportunities to try out new approaches in Green Supercomputing. This will be beneficial for society at large as well."

The two possible countries in contention for the location of SKA are South Africa and Australia. Upon completion the telescope will cover one square kilometer (just over 10.7 million square feet) and will be able to sweep at once portions of the universe as wide as the continental United States.

Read More: ASTRON