While Dr. Andrew Ensor has the function of helping to build the largest computing system in the world, he is a man who conveys a remarkable tranquility. This system must be truly great to process larger volumes of data generated by a science project. Welcome to the Square Kilometre Array project (SKA).
The SKA project will have two huge radio telescope antennas headquarters, one in South Africa and one in Western Australia. The data collected by these antennas of radio telescopes will try to answer important questions of science as: What are the effects of flow of the Big Bang ?, How different galaxies evolve ?, Can we find prebiotic molecules on other planets (one indication of some form of extraterrestrial life)?
These big questions of science will be discussed in the future once the antennas have been installed and are functioning. At this time, the great challenge is to design a computer system that can accommodate the huge volume of data to be generated with the SKA project, which will represent 30 times the current Internet traffic.
And all this traffic will single channel data to a computer that is running 24/7. It is a project of high performance computing in an effort to transform global algorithms that are flexible enough to support science throughout the project duration. Today the problem seems insurmountable, but once concrete will set the stage for what each expects daily.
“We tend to think that New Zealand plays a small role, that might not be on an international stage with other countries, but it is not the case in this project.”
Andrew Ensor is laboratory director of high performance computing at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). REANNZ worked for several years with Andrew and AUT in the SKA project. “If we did not support REANNZ probably would not be working on this project. It would be very difficult to make the work of our project without a good network in which to experience “said Dr. Andrew Ensor.
Andrew and his team for their trust REANNZ network path. “REANNZ has experience in transporting large volumes of data in real time, which is a valuable contribution to our team. My team can design the computer system once the data is in our base. Rennaz has the means so we can receive the data in our database and start processing, “says Dr. Ensor.
There are currently several satellite dishes in Warkworth which generate large amounts of data, each normally produces five or ten gigabytes of data per second. The data collected by these telescopes travel through a connection of 10Gb / s to Auckland by REANNZ network where they are processed in real time, allowing Andrew and his team represent what will happen in the SKA project.
“I think this is the first mega science project in which New Zealand participates substantially. We tend to think that New Zealand plays a small role, that might not be on an international stage with other countries, but it is not the case in this project “ said Dr. Andrew Ensor.
So far there are 11 countries participating in the SKA project and soon could add two or four more. International teams working on the SKA project are recognized for participating in large scientific projects. These teams worked in the VLA project that could be seen in the movie Contact, the Large Hadron Collider and even International Space Station, and passing a large project to another big project. “For them it’s something that makes their country. They commit these great scientific and industrial projects and use it to generate IP for these projects abroad, keeping the experience in their countries.”
The SKA project awarded New Zealand the opportunity to get a foot in the door of the work of a mega science project, and is breaking all records:
The SKA project has technology so advanced that the computer system in which Andrew is working not begin to develop before 2018. The current technology can not handle the amount of data required in this project, so the AUT and REANNZ have to look forward to see where technology is going. “Even though the network is very good, in a few years it will no longer be enough.”
“For us it is important to have high – speed networks so that we can transmit this data, plain and simple. Without this tool we will have a big problem of data , “ said Dr. Andrew Ensor.
Whatever the results of the SKA project is clearly critical to your success to have good networks.
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