Max Plank Institute For Radio Astronomy Case Study

Case Study

Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy leverages Netberg Aurora 720 100G switches to transport large amounts of realtime astronomical data from PAF (phased array feeds) beamformers to compute nodes.


MPIFR_LogoThe institute was founded in 1966 by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft as the “Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie” (MPIfR).

The foundation of the institute was closely linked to plans in the German astronomical community to construct a competitive large radio telescope in (then) West Germany. In 1964, Professors Friedrich Becker, Wolfgang Priester and Otto Hachenberg of the Astronomische Institute der Universität Bonn submitted a proposal to the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk for the construction of a large fully steerable radio telescope.


Existing beamformers, based on ROACH-1 and ROACH-2 boards, were sinking data into GPU nodes using 10G and 40G switches. A new PAF beamformer delivers nearly 1Tbps of data, thus requiring a re-thinking of the network architecture to accommodate all devices.

The current project had 96x10Gb inputs running close to the line rate from the PAF beamformer, delivered to the network on 24 MPO connectors. Then this went to 12 GPU nodes, each with 2x40G NiC. 4x100G ports were utilized by the existing data generation devices, and 240Gb/s inter-switch exchange was expected.

A 2×32-port 100G configuration met the bandwidth and port count challenge, also having enough ports for switch-to-switch connections.



High performance Netberg Aurora 720 switches with ONIE delivered both the connectivity capacity and choice of NOS. ICOS fitted the network with it’s easy to use, industry standard CLI interface, rich Linux management and automation capabilities, and a hardened set of protocols. Flexible cabling approach helped to connect legacy infrastructure and equipment.


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