Kiwi startup unleashes new technology

12 April 2017

Cambridge-based startup Nyriad has developed a new technology for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in Australia.

Billed as the world's largest IT project, the SKA radio telescope is being developed at the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research in Perth.

The problem Nyriad is helping solve is how to store, process and analyse astronomical streaming bits of data collected throughout the multi-decade project.

Nyriad was formed in 2014 by American expatriate Alex St John, one of the creators of Microsoft's DirectX operating system that formed the basis of the X-Box, and Kiwi serial entrepreneur Matthew Simmons. It has attracted investment from a number of local angel groups along with government innovation grants.

They started with a few students learning mutli-core or parallel programming in St John's garage in Cambridge working on a disruptive technology to make it easier and faster to process big data using artificial intelligence. It has now grown to a team of more than 50 engineers and is working with several global IT companies to commercialise its technology.
ICRAR is working with Nyriad to quantify the performance and efficiency of its storage processing, which reduces unnecessary data movement by performing both data processing and storage together on Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).

St John has previously said in a presentation to the Multicore World conference that the GPUs used compression algorithms that compress and decompress data in real time, making storage and processing virtually the same thing.
Nyriad chief executive Matthew Simmons says the SKA project forced it to look 10 years into the future for a cost-effective and power-efficient way to process data at scale and high speeds.

Andreas Wicenec, who leads ICRAR's data-intensive astronomy programme, says Nyriad's storage architecture allows it to carry out very high performance computing while keeping data secured and checked at all times, providing significant cost-savings.

The full impact of Nyriad's breakthrough technology will only really become evident once the entire system is running on its next project with the company, Mr Wicenec says.


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