SKA and EVLA Computing Costs for Wide Field Imaging
I investigate the problem of high dynamic range continuum synthesis imaging in the presence of confusing sources, using scaling arguments and simulations. I derive a quantified cost equation for the computer hardware needed to support such observations for the EVLA and the SKA. This cost has two main components — from the data volume, scaling as D−6 (where D is the antenna diameter), and from the non-coplanar baselines effect, scaling as D−2, for a total scaling of D−8. A factor of two in antenna diameter thus corresponds to 12 years of Moore’s law (18 month doubling time) cost reduction in computing hardware. For a SKA built with 12.5 m antennas observing with 1 arcsecond at 1.4 GHz, I find the computing load to be about 150 Petaflops (costing about $500 million in 2015). For 25 m antennas, the load is about 256 times lower, costing $2 million in 2015. This new cost equation differs from that of Perley and Clark (2003), which has scaling as D−6. This is because I find that the excellent Fourier plane coverage of the small antenna design does not significantly change the convergence rate of the Clean algorithm, which is already satisfactory in this regime.
Keywordsinterferometry radio astronomy Square Kilometre Array wide field imaging
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