Radio astronomy is a typical "big data" application with the telescopes producing vast amounts of data. In the case of the LOFAR telescope the antennas produce a continuous data rate of hundreds of gigabits per second, which after initial compression results in raw data products of the order of TBytes per observation. The computing group within ASTRON develops efficient algorithms and cutting-edge computational platforms to turn these large amounts of raw measurements into meaningful astronomical data products. Software and hardware systems are continuously being developed for LOFAR and the WSRT. The group also plays a significant role in the design phase of the upcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.
The core expertise of the group covers the areas of high-performance computing (HPC), software engineering and algorithm development and optimisation. The HPC activities focus on the design of efficient computing systems for radio astronomy data processing. The group is responsible for the development of the LOFAR central systems. A prominent example is the COBALT correlator. Within the SKA project the group has a leading role in the design of the Scientific Data Processor (SDP) compute platform. Accelerator technologies (GPUs, multicore) are explored and used for the optimisation of applications.
We build our own tools to measure the energy efficiency of accelerators like GPUs.
Optimised signal-processing and imaging applications run much faster
and more energy efficient on these accelerators than on regular CPUs.
The group's software engineers design and implement data processing and control software. Astronomical data processing requires specific algorithms such as beamforming, correlation, calibration, imaging, etc. These algorithms are researched and developed within the group and their optimisation is a crucial step towards the efficient use of the computational resources.
In the Computing Group are working:
Dr.ir. Ronald Nijboer - Competence Group Leader
Chris Broekema M.Sc. - Researcher
Arthur Coolen - Design Engineer
Ger van Diepen - System Engineer
Ing. Ruud Overeem - Instrument Engineer
Ir. Marcel Loose - System Engineer
Vishambhar Nath Pandey - System Researcher
Dr. John Romein - System Researcher
Dr. Sarod Yatawatta - System Researcher
Alexander van Amesfoort - HPC Software Engineer
Dr. Tammo Jan Dijkema - Scientific Software Engineer
Yan Grange M.Sc. - Post-doc DOME - P2
Bas van der Tol - Scientific Software Engineer
Dr. Agnes Mika - DOME SKA Liaison Engineer
Bram Veenboer - PhD Researcher
Dr. Matthias Petschow - Postdoctoral Researcher / Software Developer