Published: 06 July 2022

State-of-the-art WEKA Data Platform to support AI research

Surrey has invested in WEKA – a new high performance data platform that enables quicker and more energy efficient computing experiments – to provide a cutting-edge testbed for the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

Surrey is one of the first universities in the UK to deploy the WEKA® Data Platform and has done so as part of its multi-million pound investment in a machine learning cluster for AI research. The facility will support the work of researchers in the Surrey Institute for People-Centred Artificial Intelligence, set up in 2021.

Representing a step change in research and discovery, the WEKA Data Platform’s advanced software architecture provides high-data-throughput to all the machines in a cluster, enabling huge real-world data sets to be accessed and processed significantly faster than existing technologies. Initial tests show that experiments can be run eight times faster with WEKA compared to local storage. Crucially, as these AI experiments are power intensive, the WEKA Data Platform can also reduce the energy requirements per experiment, thereby helping to lower their environmental impact.

The University is building on this state-of-the-art research capability with further investment in the latest high-end graphical processing units which will reduce the time, power usage and cost of developing cutting-edge AI even further.

Professor Adrian Hilton, Founding Director of the Surrey Institute for People-Centred AI, says:

“This investment in state-of-the-art AI research infrastructure at Surrey provides a world-class environment for our researchers and demonstrates the University’s commitment to leading People-Centred AI research and training.”

Eli James, Director of Strategy and Operations, adds: “The Institute for People-Centred AI brings together leading AI and domain expertise to establish a unique collaborative environment to lead research and training putting people at the heart of AI. This strategic investment in the AI@Surrey compute infrastructure provides the facilities to lead research combining AI and domain expertise.”

The University’s investment in deploying the WEKA Data Platform supports Surrey’s ‘Forward thinking. And doing’ strategy, one of the aims of which is to enhance and extend critical areas of research and innovation, such as people-centred AI, for the good of society. This will build on the University’s excellent REF (Research Excellence Framework) 2021 results which saw 41 per cent of our research rated as ‘world-leading’.

“The WEKA Data Platform was specifically architected from the ground up to meet the performance, scale and efficiency requirements of next generation workloads, where traditional data infrastructure approaches simply aren’t fit for purpose,” said Ryan Taylor, head of EMEA at WEKA. “We are honoured that the University of Surrey has chosen WEKA to underpin its machine learning cluster, and we look forward to partnering with them to support the great work of the Surrey Institute for People-Centred Artificial Intelligence.”

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