In January 2015, Open Parallel participated at the largest Linux / Open Source conference in Australasia.

Linux Conference Australia (LCA2015) was held in Auckland, New Zealand.

Presentation at the Astronomy miniconf: “The SKA: Hacking the Big Bang”


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an eleven countries mega-project -including New Zealand, to build a next generation radio telescope from 2018 till 2024 between Australia and South Africa. On an unprecedented scale, the SKA will revolutionise our understanding of the universe and the laws of fundamental physics; give insight into the formation of the first stars after the Big Bang; and, address one of humankind’s ultimate questions: are we alone?

This fantastic facility will consist of thousands of telescopes distributed in several countries however the SKA will actually be the largest and most powerful high performance computer in the planet by far -with a radio telescope “attached” to it. The exascale computational requirements for the SKA are beyond the capabilities of existent technologies: they are needed to enable the SKA to scan the skies thousands of times faster than ever before, producing vast amounts of valuable data, at rates in to Tb/s (100x the global internet traffic).

The SKA’s power will come from it being a software-controlled and software-dependent telescope. This will allow the SKA’s designers to continuously take advantage of advances in computer power, algorithm design and data transport capability, always keeping SKA up to date. Around 500 engineers, scientists and researchers worldwide are contributing to the SKA’s design and development. Open Parallel (based in Oamaru, somewhere in the South Island of New Zealand) is leading the design of the Software Development Environment for the Central Signal Processor -the “brain” of the SKA.

In this talk, Nicolás will present the SKA and its incredible computing challenges; and share some thoughts on designing a software stack for massively distributed systems; and c) some questions -to share with the audience, about (other) possible applications of the SKA…

Watch the video here (48′)