The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an international collaborative project to construct a low frequency radio telescope as a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a global mega-science project to build the world’s largest radio telescope. The MWA after eight years of construction was finally launched last Friday in West Australia where Cisco announced that it had teamed up with the MWA to provide technology from our next generation data centre portfolio.
With all the buzz around “big data” there’s nothing that reflects this more than the future rollout of the SKA and the current MWA project. At the MWA, Cisco gear will be tasked with managing the immense levels of data that will be created by the instrument -- which covers an area of 2000 square metres. Given its scale the MWA has an extremely high performance requirement due to the large volumes of raw radio signals being received. The high performance and scalability of Cisco’s data centre portfolio suite is the perfect fit for such an important and massive project. For an overview of the project check out this video taken from the launch.
Specifically, Cisco UCS and Cisco Nexus Switches will form part of the MWA correlator and will be responsible for aggregating and processing the radio signals for analysis by astronomy experts.
Cisco has long been involved with the SKA project and so partnering with the MWA was a natural fit, as we are excited to show how commercially available, off-the-shelf technology can support the aggregation and processing of this data for analysis by radio astronomy experts, who are going to learn how the very first stars and galaxies formed.
The West Australia based project is led by Curtin University as part of a consortium of 13 research and academic institutions across Australia, India, New Zealand and the United States. Photos of the project can be viewed here.