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Canada’s Biggest Radio Telescope to use CoolIT Systems Liquid Cooling

Canada’s newest and largest radio telescope, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) formally launched today at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, BC. With support from CoolIT Systems with a custom Direct Liquid Cooling solution, the CHIME telescope will map out the entire northern sky each day, aiming to constrain the properties and evolution of Dark Energy over a broad swath of cosmic history.

We chose to work with CoolIT Systems because their solutions are modular and robust, and as a result the most flexible and efficient for our situation,” says Dr. Keith Vanderlinde, University of Toronto. “With the custom liquid cooling solution, we can drastically reduce CHIME’s energy consumption and squeeze additional processing out of the GPUs.”

The Honorable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, accompanied by CHIME representatives today installed the final piece (the last receiver to complete construction) of this radio telescope, which will bring to light some mysteries from the universe. A tour of the installation followed the announcement.

CHIME is the first research telescope to be built in Canada in more than 30 years and is the product of a collaboration that includes the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The CHIME collaboration realized early in its planning process that cooling the custom GPU-intensive servers with traditional air conditioning would be difficult and costly, and began exploring liquid-cooled solutions.

CHIME ‘sees’ in a fundamentally different way from other telescopes. A massive supercomputer is used to process incoming radio light and digitally piece together an image of the radio sky,” comments Vanderlinde. “All that computing power also lets us do things that were previously impossible: we can look in many directions at once, run several experiments in parallel, and leverage the power of this new instrument in unprecedented ways.”

To complete its primary cosmological mission, mapping out the largest volume of space ever attempted in a survey, CHIME requires a powerful signal processing backend, capable of sustaining real-time correlation of high-cadence radio data. Given the scale of the telescope, with 400MHz of bandwidth and 2,048 receiving elements, this requires ~8×1015 integer operations per second (~8 Pop/s) operating 24/7 on a 6.4 Tb/s input stream. All nodes must be able to operate in high ambient temperatures: up to 45˚C for extended periods of time.

CoolIT Systems’ custom Rack DCLC implementation provides a net cooling effect on room temperature. The liquid cooled system consists of 256 rack-mounted General Technics GT0180 custom 4u servers housed in 26 racks managed by CoolIT Systems Rack DCLC CHx40 Heat Exchange Modules. The custom direct contact cooling loops manage 100% of heat generated by the single Intel Xeon E5 2620v3 CPUs and the Dual AMD FirePro S9300x2 GPUs, while simultaneously pulling heat from the ambient air into the liquid coolant loops.

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