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Building a new brain for LOFAR

Submitter: Cees Bassa
Description: At the start of the 2019 the new LOFAR correlator and beamformer, COBALT 2.0, was physically installed at the Rekenhal of the CIT of the University of Groningen. After a series of acceptance tests, COBALT 2.0 was accepted for handover to ASTRON to begin the process of installing the COBALT software. In the coming months, COBALT 2.0 will be commissioned, both technically and scientifically, in preparation
for taking over the role of COBALT in the LOFAR production environment. As the brain of LOFAR, COBALT 2.0 will combine the signals from LOFAR stations for real-time correlation and beamforming.

The COBALT 2.0 hardware consists of a single head node and 13 production nodes, each of which is equipped with two Intel Xeon 6140 CPUs, two NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs and 196GB of RAM. The nodes are interconnected via a 100Gb/s network to distribute data, and a 10Gb/s network to connect to the LOFAR network at the CIT.

COBALT 2.0 is a about a factor 5 more powerful than COBALT, and this performance boost is required to allow parallel observing with LBA and HBA stations for DUPLLO and enable the LOFAR Mega Mode. With the LOFAR Mega Mode, COBALT 2.0 will simultaneously create half a dozen data products in real-time from the same station data, thus greatly increasing the efficiency of LOFAR. The Mega Mode software, which
builds on the current COBALT software, will be developed in the near future.
Copyright: Rene Kaptijn & Cees Bassa
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