Aug 05, 2011
Technology giant to support South Africa’s radio telescope programmeBack
© Reuse this
The SKA is a €1.5-billion international radio telescope project, and South Africa and Australia are the two countries short- listed to host it. MeerKAT is intended as a precursor to the SKA and, should South Africa be selected as the site for the SKA, would be incor- porated into the international instrument; if Australia is chosen, MeerKAT will operate in addition to the SKA.
The MoU covers the period 2011 to 2015 (when MeerKAT will be commissioned), but progress will be reviewed every six months. “We are offering hardware and performance tools, such as compilers – software, which will help their [SKA] software,” explains Intel corporate VP and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) GM Christian Morales. “This is a leading-edge project – a world leading project. It’s always great to be in a project where there are problems to solve.
“The SKA needs one hundred times the level of performance that exists today in high performance computing,” he highlights. “SKA South Africa also wants an evolutionary architecture, better connectivity in a high-performance environment, better storage, more storage capacity and better security. “But most important is smart performance. “They want to process the data as fast as possible. That will accelerate research and allow astronomers to develop more rapid simulations.”
The specialised processing and analysis software that the MeerKAT and SKA will require will be developed by SKA South Africa and its international SKA partner agencies. Intel’s software will optimise the functioning of this specialist SKA software. The hardware that Intel will develop for SKA South Africa will be based on the company’s three-dimensional transistor technology.
“The MoU also covers marketing – that is, marketing the SKA to the youth to get them inter- ested in this iconic project,” he adds. “The idea is to demystify maths and science, to promote maths and science and to get students to chose maths and science careers.”
SKA South Africa will be supported by a virtual team of Intel engineers and researchers scattered around the world. Because a lot of Intel’s support will be in kind – with engineering teams of varying sizes working on different issues over differing time periods – it is not really possible to put a monetary value on it.
The SKA and MeerKat programmes are also stimulating the country’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector. “The Internet and knowledge-based economy is becoming a big focus in South Africa,” cites Morales. “I think we see a vibrant digital economy taking shape in this country as we speak. “The contribution of the Inter- net and digital economy to South Africa is still below 5% but we see it growing to between 5% and 10% in the foreseeable future. It’s very encouraging to see what is going on here. We are very hopeful we’ll see companies popping up here that will make breakthroughs.”
A lot of development has taken place in recent years regarding Africa’s ICT infrastructure, including the landing of new inter- (and intra-) continental cables and the rolling out of second- and third-generation wireless telephony and data systems. “This is very promising,” he affirms, “but there is a lot of infrastructure that still has to be deployed.”
Worldwide, about 1.5-billion people can access the Internet, with another two-billion waiting to do so, many of whom are in Africa. “A lot of technology evolution and innovation are still taking place. As a corporation, we keep on investing – including investing in this [EMEA] region,” he assures. “Europe, the Middle East and Africa is the biggest region for Intel. “Half of all innovation is taking place in this region, including innovation in Africa, where we have three legal entities – in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – and more than 50 offices.”
The fact that Intel’s EMEA region supports SKA South Africa does not rule out Intel’s Asia region giving support to Australia’s SKA programmes.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
International consulting engineering company Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) has appointed Salani Sithole as South African MD, effective March 1. Sithole has been with the company for six years and, prior to joining RHDHV, held various positions in engineering consulting,...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
This Week's Magazine
National flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) is in an advanced stage of renegotiating its deal with European airliner manufacturer Airbus to acquire A320 single-aisle (or narrow body) aircraft. The aim is to replace ten of the aircraft still on order with five...
Worldwide, the main thrust in the ports industry over the past decade or more has been to increase efficiency. Traditionally, ports have been run by engineers and mariners and, in the past, increasing a port’s capacity was achieved by expanding the harbour. “That has...
What do you do when an elephant has a toothache? You call Dr Gerhard Steenkamp from the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s) faculty of veterinary science, Onderstepoort, one of only two elephant ‘dentists’ in the world.
The 2015 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) competition was launched earlier this month in Johannesburg, with the main focus on creating and inspiring entrepreneurs to create jobs and boost the economy.
In a recent letter to the editor that I sent to Engineering News (Concerns regarding South African portion of Square Kilometre Array) and in a follow-up article elaborating further (We must start preparations to build our own synchrotron light source), I stated my...