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Unleashing the Power of Distributed CPU/GPU Architectures: Massive Astronomical Data Analysis and Visualization case study

Amr H. Hassan, C. J. Fluke, D. G. Barnes
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, POBox 218, Hawthorn, Australia, 3122
arXiv:1111.6661v1 [astro-ph.IM] (29 Nov 2011)

@article{2011arXiv1111.6661H,

   author={Hassan}, A.~H. and {Fluke}, C.~J. and {Barnes}, D.~G.},

   title={"{Unleashing the Power of Distributed CPU/GPU Architectures: Massive Astronomical Data Analysis and Visualization case study}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},

   archivePrefix={"arXiv"},

   eprint={1111.6661},

   primaryClass={"astro-ph.IM"},

   keywords={Astrophysics – Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics, Computer Science – Distributed, Parallel, and Cluster Computing},

   year={2011},

   month={nov},

   adsurl={http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011arXiv1111.6661H},

   adsnote={Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}

}

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Upcoming and future astronomy research facilities will systematically generate terabyte-sized data sets moving astronomy into the Petascale data era. While such facilities will provide astronomers with unprecedented levels of accuracy and coverage, the increases in dataset size and dimensionality will pose serious computational challenges for many current astronomy data analysis and visualization tools. With such data sizes, even simple data analysis tasks (e.g. calculating a histogram or computing data minimum/maximum) may not be achievable without access to a supercomputing facility. To effectively handle such dataset sizes, which exceed today’s single machine memory and processing limits, we present a framework that exploits the distributed power of GPUs and many-core CPUs, with a goal of providing data analysis and visualizing tasks as a service for astronomers. By mixing shared and distributed memory architectures, our framework effectively utilizes the underlying hardware infrastructure handling both batched and real-time data analysis and visualization tasks. Offering such functionality as a service in a "software as a service" manner will reduce the total cost of ownership, provide an easy to use tool to the wider astronomical community, and enable a more optimized utilization of the underlying hardware infrastructure.
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