A High Performance Data Acquisition System for Structural Biology

M. Westbrook, T. Coleman, R. Daly
Argonne National Laboratory, Electronics and Computing Technologies

Research in structural biology conducted at synchrotron sources using large area electronic detectors represents a significant challenge for beamline control and data acquisition systems. An An overwhelming quantity of data and rapid data rates must be successfully accomodated in order to achieve data acquisition in near-realtime. These control and data acquisition systems are also interfaced with data analysis applications, which further complicates the task. An EPICS-based data acquisition system developed for the Structural Biology Center, APS Sector 19, will be presented. The SBC-CAT data acquisition system has been designed for speed, using both specialized hardware and EPICS-features to conduct data acquisition tasks in parallel. Each 18 MB image can be acquired and written to disk in less than 3 seconds. This data acquisition system has also been interfaced to d*TREK, a single-crystal macromolecular x-ray diffraction analysis package, written by Jim Pflugrath, Molecular Structure Corporation. This represents an integrated approach to data acquisition and analysis. Currently for the SBC, data analysis is the rate limit. This presentation will highlight the use of the distributed nature of EPICS to increase data acquisition system performance and will discuss the EPICS interface to the d*TREK dtcollect application implemented in c++ by Jim Pflugrath, Molecular Structure Corporation.

(posted 15-Oct-97 jw)