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Dolphin SCI Interconnect Helps Probe the Secrets of the Universe

High bandwidth and low latency key to handling massive amounts of data in real time

Clinton, MA and Oslo, Norway, Jan 6, 2004—Located in a remote canyon in Southern Arizona, an extraterrestrial-looking array of seven optical reflectors resembling large satellite dishes will soon be scanning the outer atmosphere diligently looking for extremely faint flashes of light lasting mere billionths of a second.  This seemingly esoteric pursuit will produce massive amounts of information, that, when analyzed will further scientists’ understanding of the universe.  A key link in capturing and processing all this data in real time is the Dolphin Interconnect Solutions SCI (Scalable Coherent Interface) IEEE standard high-speed interconnect installed in the front-line servers handling the data.

“We needed a fast, reliable way to move enormous amounts of data as it streams off the reflector array,” said Scott Wakely, of the University of Chicago and one of the research scientists masterminding the project dubbed VERITAS, which stands for Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System.  “The Dolphin SCI hardware gives us a very reliable high-bandwidth, low-latency technology for transferring data with minimal CPU overhead.”

The Dolphin SCI WulfKit cards are installed in a 500 MSPS flash analog-to-digital converter (ADC) system and handle transferring the digitized information to the first-level data integration system.  SCI provides excellent latency performance for short messages and enables processor-to-processor communication with a minimum of protocol overhead.  Typical SCI latencies for PCI bus architectures are 1.4 microseconds for an 8-byte store.  SCI also has excellent bandwidth capabilities in RMA (remote memory access) mode or DMA (direct memory access) mode.

“This unique utilization of our high-performance SCI technology demonstrates that when an application requires lower latencies, SCI is an unbeatable price/performance solution,” said Keith Murphy, Dolphin’s Vice President Sales.

The VERITAS project will search for very high-energy gamma rays from many different classes of objects including black holes at the centers of active galaxies, pulsars, gamma-ray bursts, supernova remnants, globular clusters and galaxies including our own Milky Way Galaxy.  Almost all of the information to be gained about the universe beyond planet Earth comes from the study of electromagnetic radiation.  Gamma radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes the familiar visible light and radio waves.

Because gamma rays are very difficult to produce, the objects that emit them are very interesting to astrophysicists.  In particular, high-energy gamma rays provide information about exploding stars (supernovae), pulsars, quasars and black holes, rather than ordinary stars or galaxies.  As they strike Earth’s atmosphere, high-energy gamma rays generate secondary radiation that can be detected by ground-based instrumentation, making it possible to study them with telescopes such as VERITAS.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, VERITAS is collaboration of several universities and research institutions including University of Chicago, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Purdue University, Iowa State University, Washington University, University of Utah, University of California Los Angeles, McGill University (Canada), National University of Ireland (Dublin), and University of Leeds (UK).

About Dolphin Interconnect Solutions

Dolphin Interconnect Solutions of Clinton, Massachusetts (USA) and Oslo, Norway provides high-speed, high-bandwidth interconnect products based on the scalable coherent interface (SCI).  Dolphin products and technologies enable customers to build cost-effective, highly scalable, enterprise-class clustering solutions with standards-based hardware and software.  For additional information, please visit www.dolphinics.com.

Note: Dolphin Interconnect Solutions is a trademark of Dolphin Interconnect Solutions AS in the United States and other countries. Other product names are for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective companies.