The TALON-DX signal processing board, designed by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) will be a major part of the “processing heart” of the SKA, which will process as many bits every 15 seconds as all the bits that are flowing through the global internet today. Such needs cut across multiple sectors, from telecommunications and industrial, to automotive, to consumer electronics, to aerospace & defence, to data processing & storage and others like medical imaging. The global market is estimated to be US$18 billion by 2025. Image credit: NRC.
Canada’s involvement in the SKA is creating new opportunities for Canadian companies across a range of industrial sectors. Canadian SKA design activities included the development of system and sub-system designs, verification instruments, implementation plans, and other documentation needed for SKA construction. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) actively engaged industry through design phase sub-contracts, project and data management services as well as material and equipment design and construction of the telescope dish, computer hardware and software systems. Canadian companies involved in this technology design work since 2015 include MDA, Intel, Nanowave, Canadian Circuits, Rackforce (now TeraGo), and SED Systems (now Calian, Advanced Technologies).
The SKA will be built with cutting-edge technology and innovations developed during the design phase that offer a unique opportunity for Canadian industry to secure construction contracts, including the Canadian-designed multi-million dollar SKA1-Mid correlator. Under the current agreement among the project partners, up to 70% of a partner’s contribution to construction costs will be spent domestically. Canadian industries will therefore benefit directly from investment in the SKA from SKA construction tender and procurement, which will start in 2021.
The digital economy relies on processing and transmitting vast amounts of data both quickly and cheaply, and Canada’s major technological contributions to the SKA address these challenges. These innovations are at very high technology readiness levels (TRLs), suitable for early commercialization by Canadian companies:
Digital Signal Processing
The NRC-developed TALON-DX digital processing board harnesses advances in reprogrammable chips and optical interconnects to provide an unmatched combination of data rates and processing power at very low power consumption. More than thirty Canadian companies are positioned to exploit this technology across multiple sectors, from telecommunications and industrial, to automotive, to consumer electronics, to aerospace & defence, to data processing & storage and others like medical imaging, and its global market value will reach US$18 billion by 2025.
The low-noise amplifiers designed for the SKA are the best in the world at transmitting data, allowing amplification of very weak signals without corrupting the signals they carry through a balancing act of component choice and circuit design. Three established applications of this technology, wireless, satellite communication and defence have worldwide hardware requirements currently worth at least US$160 billion, and should grow to US$310 billion by 2026.
Canadian companies interested in contributing to SKA construction or exploiting SKA technologies should contact:
Client Relationship Leader
National Research Council Canada (NRC)