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      ICE-based Custom Full-Mesh Network for the CHIME High Bandwidth Radio Astronomy Correlator

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          Abstract

          New generation radio interferometers encode signals from thousands of antenna feeds across large bandwidth. Channelizing and correlating this data requires networking capabilities that can handle unprecedented data rates with reasonable cost. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) correlator processes 8-bits from N=2048 digitizer inputs across 400~MHz of bandwidth. Measured in \(N^2~\times \) bandwidth, it is the largest radio correlator that has been built. Its digital back-end must exchange and reorganize the 6.6~terabit/s produced by its 128 digitizing and channelizing nodes, and feed it to the 256-node spatial correlator in a way that each node obtains data from all digitizer inputs but across a small fraction of the bandwidth (i.e. `corner-turn'). In order to maximize performance and reliability of the corner-turn system while minimizing cost, a custom networking solution has been implemented. The system makes use of Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) transceivers to implement direct, passive, full-mesh, high speed serial connections between sixteen circuit boards in a crate, to exchange data between crates, and to offload the data to a cluster of 256 graphics processing unit (GPU) nodes using standard 10~Gbit/s Ethernet links. The GPU nodes complete the corner-turn by combining data from all crates and then computing visibilities. Eye diagrams and frame error counters confirm error-free operation of the corner-turn network in both the currently operating CHIME Pathfinder telescope (a prototype for the full CHIME telescope) and a representative fraction of the full CHIME hardware providing an end-to-end system validation. An analysis of an equivalent corner-turn system built with Ethernet switches instead of custom passive data links is provided.

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          What Next-Generation 21 cm Power Spectrum Measurements Can Teach Us About the Epoch of Reionization

          A number of experiments are currently working towards a measurement of the 21 cm signal from the Epoch of Reionization. Whether or not these experiments deliver a detection of cosmological emission, their limited sensitivity will prevent them from providing detailed information about the astrophysics of reionization. In this work, we consider what types of measurements will be enabled by a next-generation of larger 21 cm EoR telescopes. To calculate the type of constraints that will be possible with such arrays, we use simple models for the instrument, foreground emission, and the reionization history. We focus primarily on an instrument modeled after the \(\sim 0.1~\rm{km}^2\) collecting area Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) concept design, and parameterize the uncertainties with regard to foreground emission by considering different limits to the recently described "wedge" footprint in k-space. Uncertainties in the reionization history are accounted for using a series of simulations which vary the ionizing efficiency and minimum virial temperature of the galaxies responsible for reionization, as well as the mean free path of ionizing photons through the IGM. Given various combinations of models, we consider the significance of the possible power spectrum detections, the ability to trace the power spectrum evolution versus redshift, the detectability of salient power spectrum features, and the achievable level of quantitative constraints on astrophysical parameters. Ultimately, we find that \(0.1~\rm{km}^2\) of collecting area is enough to ensure a very high significance (\(\gtrsim30\sigma\)) detection of the reionization power spectrum in even the most pessimistic scenarios. This sensitivity should allow for meaningful constraints on the reionization history and astrophysical parameters, especially if foreground subtraction techniques can be improved and successfully implemented.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            2016-08-15
            Article
            1608.04347

            http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

            Custom metadata
            astro-ph.IM

            Instrumentation & Methods for astrophysics

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