DiFX-2: A more flexible, efficient, robust, and powerful software correlator

A. T. Deller, W. F. Brisken, C. J. Phillips, J. Morgan, W. Alef, R. Cappallo, E. Middelberg, J. Romney, H. Rottmann, S. J. Tingay, R. Wayth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

345 Scopus citations


Software correlation, where a correlation algorithm written in a high-level language such as C++ is run on commodity computer hardware, has become increasingly attractive for small- to medium-sized and/or bandwidth-constrained radio interferometers. In particular, many long-baseline arrays (which typically have fewer than 20 elements and are restricted in observing bandwidth by costly recording hardware and media) have utilized software correlators for rapid, cost-effective, correlator upgrades to allow compatibility with new, wider-bandwidth, recording systems and to improve correlator flexibility. The DiFX correlator, made publicly available in 2007, has been a popular choice in such upgrades and is now used for production correlation by a number of observatories and research groups worldwide. Here, we describe the evolution in the capabilities of the DiFX correlator over the past three years, including a number of new capabilities, substantial performance improvements, and a large amount of supporting infrastructure to ease use of the code. New capabilities include the ability to correlate a large number of phase centers in a single correlation pass, the extraction of phase-calibration tones, correlation of disparate but overlapping sub-bands, the production of rapidly sampled filter-bank and kurtosis data at minimal cost, and many more. The latest version of the code is at least 15% faster than the original (and in certain situations, many times this value). Finally, we also present detailed test results validating the correctness of the new code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-287
Number of pages13
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number901
StatePublished - Mar 2011


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