NZ startup Nyriad scores key role in SKA global radio telescope

New Zealand startup Nyriad has scored a key role developing technology to process the enormous volumes of data that will be generated by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project.

The International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) the body responsible for the development of the data layer of the SKA, based in Perth, Australia, is working with Nyriad to adopt Nyriad’s technology to store, process and analyse the 160Tbps of data that will be generated by the SKA’s 130,000 antennas every day.

Nyriad describes itself as a New Zealand-based exascale computing company specialising in advanced data storage solutions for big data and high performance computing that was born out of consulting work on the SKA project.

“The company was forced to rethink the relationship between storage, processing and bandwidth to achieve a breakthrough in system stability and performance capable of processing and storing over 160Tbps of radio antennae data in real-time, within a power budget impossible with any modern IT solutions,” it says.

Nyriad claims that its technology has been developed in partnership with international heavyweights in the computing sector and “has revolutionary and disruptive implications for the entire IT industry.”

The company was formed in 2014 by Kiwi serial-inventor Matthew Simmons and American graphical processing pioneer Alex St John, who co-incidentally were both living in Cambridge New Zealand.

Nyriad started with a few students learning extremely parallel computer programming in St John’s garage and has since has grown to a team of over 50 engineers.

Andreas Wicenec, who leads ICRAR’s Data Intensive Astronomy program, said: “With Nyriad’s storage architecture we can carry out very high performance computing while keeping data secured and checked at all times. This can be achieved with a lot less overhead, redundant storage hardware, and thus costs, than using traditional high performance computing storage and access technologies,”

Simmons said, “The SKA forced us to look 10 years into the future for a cost-effective and power-efficient approach to processing data at the scale and I/O speed not possible in current big data analytics or high performance computing.”

Simmons is the inventor of dozens of signal processing technologies used by Dolby, DTS, Sony, Microsoft, Samsung, Pixar, Singtel, Park Road Post, NHK and Disney. He has also been CEO of the New Zealand Clean Energy Centre where he invented a high-temperature solid-state heat-transfer system for molten salt reactors and nuclear waste. When his business was decimated by the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 he resettled his family in Cambridge.

St John was formerly general manager of the Microsoft technology evangelism team, and pioneered GPU computing. “Creator of the Microsoft DirectX OS used by the DirectXbox, St John also led development of the Windows 95 and Windows NT print, video, audio, 2D & 3D graphics, colour management, font system, multiplayer and input architectures,” Nyriad says.

He was also the inventor of the streaming mapping technology used for Google Maps. He holds more than 20 patents in compression, digital rights management, machine learning, streaming media, e-commerce, virtual currencies and online advertising.

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Tags StartupSquare Kilometre Array (SKA)International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)Nyriad

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