The next major deadline within the LOFAR4SW project is the Mid Term Review (MTR), scheduled for 22 September 2019, Brussels. The MTR will focus on the first Periodic Report, both from a technical content as a financial point of view.
Welcome to this edition of the LOFAR2.0 Newsletter. A special welcome to the people from INAF who joined the team to work on the Receiver Unit (RCU). The last months, the activity on LOFAR2.0 steadily increased and there are many LOFAR2.0 highlights to report. To mention a few: The COBALT2.0 hardware has been installed and is being commissioned, LOFAR4SW has passed its Preliminary Design Review (PDR), the LOFAR2.0 room has been inaugurated, the LOCAL project delivered its final report, the RCU-INAF project kicked-off and the documentation of the System Review has been delivered to the Review Panel (and Teamcenter!). Well done to all!!
The last two months, the Program team spent a lot of effort on the preparation of the System Review. An independent Review Panel is currently scrutinising the documents. The deliverables are very impressive, in particular because of the limited time available, and because this is the first time that we invested so much on systems engineering at the beginning of a project. After the System Review, the work on the system level documents will continue at a reduced level. In parallel, preliminary design at level 2 (i.e. the design of the Station, the Timing Distributor and the LBA-HBA calibration pipeline) will ramp up to prepare for the Station and Clock PDR by the end of June.
I hope you enjoy reading this Newsletter!
Wim van Cappellen.
From early February, the Reading Room at ASTRON is now the central hub of the LOFAR2.0 development. The room greatly helps to strengthen the LOFAR2.0 vibe, to shorten communications lines, to cross department boundaries, to focus our work and to discuss ideas. Twice per week the team discusses accomplishments, upcoming activities and blocking issues in the stand-up meetings.
Given the lessons-learned from past projects, LOFAR2.0 is adopting a more rigorous systems engineering approach. Given the success factors of the LOFAR2.0 program, it is of highest importance to complete the Stage 1 upgrade within time and budget. The LOFAR2.0 activities are therefore governed by a robust systems engineering process. In the LOFAR2.0 context, level 0 (L0) refers to the science level, level 1 (L1) to the system level, and level 2 (L2) to the sub-system or element level. The Stage 1 upgrade mostly concerns the upgrade of the LOFAR stations, which are at L2 in the system hierarchy. Before activities at L2 can commence, the use-cases and the driving L0 and L1 requirements need to be established. Complicating factor is that there is no up-to-date and complete technical baseline of LOFAR1. Some LOFAR 1 requirement specifications and an architectural description exist, but have not been maintained. Other documents, like use-case descriptions and operational concepts and solutions, were absent. Given the complexity of LOFAR, considerable effort is needed to fix this. The work on L0 and L1 needs to be balanced with the work on L2. To meet the delivery schedule of Stage 1, the work on L2 activities, in particular the activities on the Station and the Timing Distributor, must start now to deliver on schedule.
The objective of the System Review is to evaluate the status of the L0 (science) and L1 (system) documentation, and the risks associated with starting L2 (station) preliminary design activities. The outcome of the review will indicate whether the driving requirements have been established and whether the risks associated with the proposed way forward are understood.
The LOFAR2.0 System Review will be on April 23-24. The Review Panel consists of: Carla Baldovin, (chair, ASTRON), Daniel Hayden, (SKAO), Maaike Mevius (ASTRON), Adriaan Peens-Hough (SARAO), Arno Schoenmakers (ASTRON) and Reinout van Weeren (Leiden University).
The COBALT2.0 GPU cluster has been delivered and installed by Bossers & Cnossen in the beginning of January. After some minor flaws (some too long and some incorrect cables delivered by the supplier) It has been formally accepted on 11 February.
The system administrators have installed and tuned the operating system. Currently the SDOS team installs and tunes the COBALT software. By mid-March AG and SOS will start commissioning the new cluster in parallel with the old COBALT1.0 cluster. When both accept the COBALT2.0 GPU cluster as a replacement for the old cluster then the old COBALT1.0 cluster will be decommissioned and disconnected. Then the new COBALT2.0 GPU cluster will be completely connected to the network and from then on replace the old COBALT1.0.
The development of LOFAR 2.0 is an international project, making used of experts in various countries. The Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) is deeply involved in designing the receivers for the Low Frequency Aperture Array (LFAA) for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). INAF has now teamed up with ASTRON to develop the new Receiver Units (RCUs) for LOFAR 2.0.
Currently, each receiver unit in LOFAR can only receive (i.e. amplify, filter and digitise) one of its three inputs at a given time. For LOFAR 2.0, we need new RCUs that can receive all three signals simultaneously. The challenge, however, is that the new RCUs should not take more space, power or money! And if that is not enough, we also need to improve the linearity of the RCUs, to be able to handle higher levels of radio frequency interferers (RFI). The goal is therefore to have three times and better performance, than the current RCU, but at similar cost and power consumption!
The team are on the field, the goal post is in sight and kicked off just took place on 11 April. Time and money are our strongest opponents, but we have expert players on the team who know how to score!
The LOFAR4SW project successfully passed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). During 5 6 February 2019, the PDR of LOFAR4SW took place at Cardiff. The panel "is impressed with the quantity and quality of the work accomplished to date on what is a very interesting, challenging, but potentially transformative new suite of LOFAR capabilities."
We have had very nice and lively discussions and received constructive feedback on our documents. We've provided all required PDR deliverables towards the EC, as well as the final PDR-panel report.
The PDR panel was chaired by Tim Bastian (NRAO, USA), accompanied by: Mark Bentum (ASTRON), David Jackson (UK Met Office), Hans van der Marel (ASTRON), Mauro Messerotti (INAF IT).