New Zealand is pumping another $380,000 into a big data project that could support the world's largest radio telescope.

It comes after the Government has already invested more than $2 million in work related to the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, the largest scientific venture ever undertaken, but which could also boost New Zealand's burgeoning big data industry.

The new funding goes toward a collaboration between New Zealand's Nyriad Ltd and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Western Australia (ICRAR).

It was made in response to a fresh request from the Australian Government to support a project to develop and test an operating system for managing enormous amounts of science data in real time.


Although it missed out on hosting part of the SKA infrastructure, New Zealand is one of 10 nations with a key role in building the vast radio telescope network in the deserts of Australia and South Africa.

Once it becomes operational in the 2020s, the SKA telescope will help to create data images allowing scientists to see back to the early stages of the universe.

New Zealand is also contributing a large team of university researchers and industry partners, with a primary aim of designing the Science Data Processor that will combine the processing power of 100 million computers.

The SKA's dishes will produce 10 times the amount of today's global internet traffic, spitting out enough data that just one day's worth would take nearly two million years to play back on an iPod.

The collaboration is working on cutting-edge computer nodes, algorithms and software to ensure the supercomputer will keep up with the unprecedented data rates.

"There is no supercomputer system yet in existence that can handle the data that the SKA will generate," Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith said.

"This project is looking to solve the high performance computing challenges of the future, and places Nyriad at the forefront of this potentially game-changing technology."

Nyriad is a Cambridge-based company specialising in advanced data storage solutions for big data and high performance computing.


It has developed pioneering technology for performing data processing and storage together on Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).

ICRAR is a joint venture between the University of Western Australia and Curtin University, with funding from the Western Australian state government.

The project will use the hardware and data from the Murchison Widefield Array, a precursor telescope to the SKA in Western Australia, to test Nyriad's technology.

The funding will come from the Catalyst Fund managed by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

"Australia is a major science and innovation partner for New Zealand, and this new collaboration is another sign that our relationship continues to grow and thrive following the signing of the Cooperation Agreement earlier this year," Goldsmith said.

The SKA project is also being backed by Kiwi data companies, with one Otago-based firm saying development work here could pave the way for New Zealand to become a world leader in the space.

The SKA telescope

• Will be the world's largest, most sensitive radio telescope, costing more than $2 billion and involving 350 scientists and engineers.
• Stationed in Australia and Africa, the telescope will consist of dishes and millions of dipole radio receptors.
• With an effective collecting area of 1sq km, will be 100 times as sensitive as the biggest present-day telescopes and have image resolution quality 50 times the Hubble telescope's.