Real-time, fast radio transient searches with GPU de-dispersion

Alessio Magro, Aris Karastergiou, Stefano Salvini, Benjamin Mort, Fred Dulwich, Kristian Zarb Adami
Department of Physics, University of Malta, Msida MSD 2080, Malta
arXiv:1107.2516v1 [astro-ph.IM] (13 Jul 2011)


   author={Magro}, A. and {Karastergiou}, A. and {Salvini}, S. and {Mort}, B. and {Dulwich}, F. and {Zarb Adami}, K.},

   title={"{Real-time, fast radio transient searches with GPU de-dispersion}"},

   journal={ArXiv e-prints},




   keywords={Astrophysics – Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics},




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


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The identification, and subsequent discovery, of fast radio transients through blind-search surveys requires a large amount of processing power, in worst cases scaling as $mathcal{O}(N^3)$. For this reason, survey data are generally processed offline, using high-performance computing architectures or hardware-based designs. In recent years, graphics processing units have been extensively used for numerical analysis and scientific simulations, especially after the introduction of new high-level application programming interfaces. Here we show how GPUs can be used for fast transient discovery in real-time. We present a solution to the problem of de-dispersion, providing performance comparisons with a typical computing machine and traditional pulsar processing software. We describe the architecture of a real-time, GPU-based transient search machine. In terms of performance, our GPU solution provides a speed-up factor of between 50 and 200, depending on the parameters of the search.
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