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Paper: Pulsar Timing Instrumentation for the SKA
Volume: 512, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXV
Page: 441
Authors: Barr, E. D.; Jameson, A.; Morrison, I.; van Straten, W.
Abstract: The improved sensitivity, flexibility and survey speed of the next generation of radio telescope arrays (MeerKAT, ASKAP, SKA) comes at the cost of a vast increase in the amount of data that must be captured and analysed. This is particularly true for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), where in Phase 1 the mid-frequency antennas will produce up to 28 Tb/s of data. Such data rates make storage and off-line processing infeasibly expensive, thus necessitating the development of real-time processing hardware and software that can reliably identify and preserve data of scientific interest. For the SKA, the Central Signal Processor (CSP) will handle real-time processing of observations. This large hybrid FPGA-GPU supercomputer will perform intensive tasks such as RFI rejection, polarisation calibration, correlation, beamforming, pulsar searching and pulsar timing. At Swinburne University of Technology we are designing a pulsar timing instrument capable of enabling high priority science objectives with the SKA, namely the direct detection of nanohertz gravitational waves and strong-field tests of gravity using pulsars and black holes. This instrument will capture and process 1.5 Tb/s of beamformed data, performing interference removal, mitigation of interstellar medium propagation effects, channelization, detection and phase folding. To do this we use high-end commodity server-class computers fitted with commercial off-the-shelf graphics co-processor cards and high-speed network interfaces to produce a new pulsar timing instrument an order of magnitude more powerful than the current generation.
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