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Software and Computing

Operational effectiveness of current-day telescope installations and astronomical instruments is strongly influenced by software and the computing hardware infrastructure. Therefore software development at the ING and modernization of the underlying hardware is a continuing task. The software development team at the ING uses state of the art technology to provide a software infrastructure and hosts a wide range of programming skills using the most effective development technologies. Software development is mostly concerned with controlling systems such as mechanisms and motors, but also encompasses improving the overall system efficiency and effectiveness.

The ING Computing Group continues to look for cost-effective ways to improve reliability of the systems that they provide as well as reducing time for recovery for equipment that has failed.

Conversion of the UltraDAS camera servers to Linux

Over the past year we have been porting the UltraDAS camera servers to a Linux-based x86 platform. There are many advantages to doing this including improved efficiency, improved maintenance and extended possibilities. The new camera servers are significantly faster than the previous generation and in timing tests, have proved to be nearly 400% faster in postprocessing an image after it has been read out from a detector. This extra speed has allowed us to resolve performance issues with the autoguiders and will allow us to explore new areas that require fast processing of images. By the use of mainstream computing hardware technology, we can also now keep step with the rapid advances in x86 based hardware and take full advantage of it.

All of the camera servers that are controlling the science detectors at the WHT are now done so by the new system. We are currently in the process of porting the INT camera servers to this new platform and hope that the improved reliability that they offer will result in reduced downtime.

Craige Bevil (05/11/2010)

Conversion of the WHT ICS to Linux

The computing group has embarked upon a project to port the WHT ICS from Solaris to Linux. Once again, there are a number of advantages in doing this. From the Observer's perspective, the new system will be much faster in operation and to start-up. From a maintenance perspective, we will be using a cost-free operating system and also using mainstream computing hardware which is not only cost-effective, but also significantly more powerful and cheaper than the current  hardware. This project is currently ongoing and the initial results are promising. Many of the critical software components have now been tested on the new platform and are working as expected. We forecast that the new system should be available for on sky testing approximately midway through 2011.

Coupled with the conversion of the UltraDAS camera servers to Linux and the introduction of a standard development environment, this homogeneity will facilitate ease of maintenance of the software systems at the WHT in the future.

Craige Bevil (05/11/2010)

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Last modified: 21 December 2010