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BPSR: A High Resolution Multibeam Digital Filterbank

The Berkeley Parkes Swinburne Recorder (BPSR) is a high resolution digital filterbank data acquitision and processing system for the Parkes Multibeam receiver, developed in collaboration between Swinburne University of Technology and The University of California at Berkeley.


The BPSR hardware consists of:

  • 13 Interconnect Break-out Board (IBOB) developed by the CASPER group at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • a Beowulf-style cluster of 20 Dell 1950 server-class machines, each with dual quad-core Intel Clovertown processors, 16 GB of RAM, and 1.5 TB of disk. A third switch connects to the Dell Remote Access Controller (DRAC) ports on each node to provide remote system administration capability.

The IBOB boards perform analog-to-digital conversion of two dual-polarization signals, each with a bandwidth of 400 MHz. These signals are sub-divided into 1024 frequency channels using a polyphase filter bank programmed into the IBOB Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) logic blocks. The signals are then detected, integrated, decimated to 8 bits, and streamed to 13 server-class nodes, each directly connected to an IBOB via 10 GbE CX4.


Once in workstation RAM, the data are

  • routed, managed, and monitored using psrdada; and
  • summed, normalized, decimated to 2 bits per sample, and written to disk in real-time using dspsr.

These two Open Source software projects are developed at Swinburne in collaboration with pulsar research groups around the world.


Compared to the previous analog filterbank system at Parkes, the major technical innovations of BPSR include:

  • orders of magnitude increases in time resolution (32 vs 125 microseconds), frequency resolution (1024 vs 96 channels), and dynamic range (2 bit vs 1 bit).
  • remote administration capability in preparation for future remote operation of ATNF observatories; and
  • professionally engineered acquisition and analysis software, developed under an Open Source license as part of our continuing dedication to foster international collaboration.

BPSR is an integral part of the High Time Resolution Universe Survey currently underway at Parkes.

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