Join the cloud and make your computer part of a supercomputer

Thursday, 15 September, 2011

The SkyNet project is sponsored by the WA Department of Commerce and developed by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy (ICRAR), in conjunction with UK-based computing company, eMedia Track.

SkyNet will allow participants to help reveal the secrets of the universe.

ICRAR Director, Professor Peter Quinn, said the SkyNet provided a community-based cloud computing resource to raise awareness of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and complement the primary data processing work of supercomputing facilities such as the Pawsey Centre.

“Radio astronomy is a data intensive activity and as we design, develop and switch on the next generation of radio telescopes, the supercomputing resources processing this deluge of data will be in increasingly high demand,” said Professor Quinn.

“The SkyNet aims to complement the work already being done by creating a citizen science computing resource that radio astronomers can tap into and process data in ways and for purposes that otherwise might not be possible.”

Curtin University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Graeme Wright said the SkyNet would generate real outcomes for scientific research by encouraging the online community to participate in the processing of radio astronomy data.

“Radio astronomy is a clear focal point in Curtin’s commitment to research in ICT and emerging technologies and it’s great to see people from across the university, in collaboration with our partners at the Department of Commerce, The University of Western Australia and ICRAR, bringing this project to life,” Professor Wright said.

ICRAR Outreach Manager Pete Wheeler said, “By creating a distributed network containing thousands of computers, we can simulate a single powerful machine capable of doing real scientific research."

“The key to the SkyNet is having lots of computers connected, with each contributing only a little, but the sum of those computers achieving a lot.”

eMedia Track’s Nereus software uses the spare capacity of computing resources on the ‘edge’ of the internet. These resources generally use only a small fraction of their capacity, even when busy, and are available for marginal operating cost and environmental impact and allow users and developers to combine and coordinate them.

The software is implemented in Java and works across all major computing platforms, including Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

For further information and to sign up, please visit the SkyNet website.

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