DOME: IBM and ASTRON’s Exascale Computer for SKA Radio Telescope

ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and IBM today announced an initial 32.9 million EURO, five-year collaboration to research extremely fast, but low-power exascale computer systems targeted for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA is an international consortium to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Scientists estimate that the processing power required to operate the telescope will be equal to 100 million of today’s fastest desktop computers.

ASTRON is one of the leading scientific partners in the international consortium that is developing the SKA. Upon completion in 2024, the telescope will be used to explore evolving galaxies, dark matter and even the very origins of the universe – dating back more than 13 billion years.

An interesting thing to consider is DOME’s processing power versus that of a human brain – roughly around 10^18 vs 10^16 respectively. If those numbers are accurate, then, DOME will be – at least as far as hardware is concerned – a couple of orders of magnitude more powerful. What does this mean?! Well, it could mean everything or nothing depending on whether we can get the software end of things right by then. If we do, then, DOME could turn out to be among the first smarter-than-human AI. If we don’t, then, it will be just the most powerful super-computer.

The Square Kilometre Array science animation video:

The SKA Official Animation:

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