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Streaming Readout V
RIKEN BNL Research Center Workshop

Streaming Readout V

General Workshop Registration (Deadline: September 30, 2019)
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The field of nuclear physics is currently in a paradigm shift how data acquisition systems are built: Classic systems are triggered, i.e. rely on a hardware decision to define the occurrence of an event, to start the actual data acquisition, that is, the analog to digital conversion. Modern electronics however allow to continuously convert the analog detector signals. This is already exploited in more modern, but still triggered, readout systems which replace analog delays required to accommodate the time taken for the trigger decision with ring-buffer in the digital domain.

The next logical step is to eliminate the hardware trigger altogether, and replace the trigger decision with a data selection realized in software, with the following advantages:

  • Since all data is already in the digital domain, latency constraints on the selection algorithm are seriously loosened compared to a hardware trigger.
  • The software algorithm can access all detector information, allowing to better suppress noise and be more efficient.
  • A streaming readout is, in principle, less complex. Many problems are moved from hardware to software, where more expert knowledge is available.
  • The architecture furthers the convergence of online and offline analysis, leading to better data quality control during data taking and shorter analysis cycles.
  • Streaming readout allows the efficient readout of detectors operating on longer timescales like TPCs at high event rates without incurring excessive dead-time.
  • For bandwidth-to-disk-limited experiments (e.g. Run 3 of LHC), a streaming readout combined with online analysis allow to drastically reduce the amount of data stored for each event by pre-processing the raw data to extract features like clusters, or even fully analyze the raw data and store only analysis level data structures. This maximizes the amount of physics that can be extracted from the experiment.

Driven by the high luminosity of Run 3 of the LHC, the LHC experiments are already transitioning to this new paradigm. However, typical collaboration sizes in nuclear physics are too small to develop all the required hardware and software components on their own. Therefore, the major players in the field are collaborating to establish a common standard and shared ecosystem to bring down development cost and make streaming readout available for everyone.

At many national labs, pilot projects to develop streaming readout have been started. sPHENIX will be the first major nuclear physics experiment to run partially with modern streaming readout. Since sPHENIX is using a TPC, a classic triggered readout would produce unacceptable dead-time, which can be completely avoided by using streaming readout. Due to budget constraints, existing readout hardware will be used for the sPHENIX calorimeters, which operate in a triggered mode.

For EIC, the adoption of streaming readout has significant advantages: Most EIC detector designs include a TPC, and the same arguments as for sPHENIX apply. Others, like TOPSiDE, have millions of channels and require online processing to reduce noise and data size to acceptable levels. Current rate predictions indicate that, contrary to LHC Run 3, all raw data can be saved to disk after a first-level zero-suppression, maximizing the physics impact of EIC by allowing for data mining in a completely un-biased data set.

The community has formed the EIC streaming readout consortium, called eRD23 of the EIC detector R&D program. To facilitate the development of a common standard for EIC and beyond, the community meets bi-annually. Two meetings were held at MIT, one at Christopher Newport University, and the most recent one in Camogli, Italy, hosted by INFN. The next workshop in this series, Streaming Readout V, would ideally take place at or close to BNL.

The topics of the planned sessions are: front end electronics; timing and synchronization; software; and streaming readout validation.

The goal of the workshop series is to develop a common, community-wide standard for streaming readout, as an integrated readout solution for all detectors at a future EIC and beyond. We want to inform the detector development community about the requirements for and opportunities associated with streaming readout, with the aim to maximize physics output of future experiments.

Workshop Organizers

  • M. Battaglieri (IFFN Geneva)
  • J.C. Bernauer (SBU/RBRC)
  • Y. Furletova (JLab)
  • J. Huang (BNL)
  • M.L. Purschke (BNL)


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Last Modified: July 01, 2019