UniBoard VLBI Correlator produces first fringes

DWINGELOO, The Netherlands (3 July 2012) - The Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) is pleased to announce the first fringes produced by the first prototype of its UniBoard VLBI correlator last month, a significant milestone in the development of a new operational correlator for the European VLBI Network (EVN).

JIVE staff produced amplitude and phase plots of cross correlations of 0.25 seconds of data on a baseline between Jodrell Bank, UK, and Effelsberg, Germany. For comparison, the same data were processed through the SFXC, the EVN software correlator at JIVE.

Above: The top row shows amplitude (left) and phase plots (right) of cross correlations of 0.25 seconds of data processed with the UniBoard correlator. The bottom row shows plots of the same data processed with the current SFXC software correlator. Click on the image for a full-size version.

The UniBoard correlator is being developed on the UniBoard platform, a generic digital board for radio-astronomical applications containing eight state-of-the-art FPGAs, yielding up to 4 Tera-operations per second.

Although considerable more work is needed before the UniBoard correlator is operational, this achievement marks an important milestone in its development. The UniBoard correlator will eventually serve as a building block for the next generation EVN correlator, which will be capable of correlating 10Gbps data streams from up to 32 VLBI stations.

About JIVE
JIVE is a scientific foundation with a mandate to support the operations of the European VLBI Network. For this purpose it maintains, operates and develops the MkIV and SFXC EVN Data Processors, powerful supercomputers that can combine the signals from radio telescopes located across the planet. Through this technique called VLBI, astronomers can make detailed images of cosmic radio sources, providing astronomers with the clearest, highest resolution view of some of the most distant and energetic objects in the Universe.

About the UniBoard
The UniBoard is a generic digital board which combines as much computing power and Input/Output capacity as will fit on a reasonably sized PCB. It is a multi-purpose instrument, re-programmable for a wide variety of radio-astronomical applications, as well as a building block for larger systems. Development of the UniBoard was a Joint Research Activity of RadioNet3, funded under the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) under grant agreement No 283393 (RadioNet3).

Contact
Arpad Szomoru, Head of Technical Operations and R&D
Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe
+31 (0)521 596509
szomoru [at] jive [dot] nl

Kristine Yun, Public Outreach Officer
Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe
+31 (0)521 596543
kyun [at] jive [dot] nl

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