What Is Golem?
Golem is a blockchain platform that uses the distributed cloud to make massive computing power available to the masses. The Golem Network aims to become the first ‘world supercomputer’. It allows GNT token holders to ‘rent out’ their spare computing power. This is then added to cluster computing networks to deliver processing power where it’s needed, for intensive tasks such as video rendering.
Introduction To Golem Network
The Golem Network could prove to be one of the most impressive dApps on the Ethereum blockchain. The platform (which launched as a beta, dubbed Brass, on April 2018 after 14 software implementations) lets people rent out their spare computing power to join cluster computing networks.
Anyone familiar with a DDoS attack understands how powerful these computer clusters can be. Back in 2010, PayPal was hit with one of the first publicized DDoS attacks for refusing to process payments to Wikileaks. In March 2018, GitHub was hit by a DDoS attack at 1.35 terabits per second, marking the biggest DDoS attack to date. Experts estimate 33 percent of all downtime incidents on the Internet are caused by DDoS.
These attacks prove that groups of personal computers can overtake large enterprise servers. Mining pools like Antpool are leveraging the concept to mine cryptocurrencies, and the Golem Network is hoping to use cluster computing to create a sort of Airbnb for supercomputers with blockchain technology.
Before exploring the viability of the Golem Network itself, let’s review the performance of the Golem Network Token (GNT), the proprietary ERC-20 token it uses. Just how solid is the Golem cryptocurrency in terms of its market cap?
Breakdown of GNT
Golem has a total supply of 1,000,000,000. The ICO token sale took place in November 2016 and 820,000,000 were distributed. It raised 820,000 ETH within 20 minutes of issuing the Initial Coin Offering.
Another 120,000,000 GNT (12 percent of the total supply) were held by the GOLEM Project and 60,000,000 (6 percent of the total supply) were distributed to early contributors and team members.
GNT is tradeable on Huobi, Bithumb, Upbit, Binance, and Bittrex. Approximately $2 million worth of GNT is traded on a daily basis, and trading pairs include BTC, ETH, USDT, and fiat currencies like KRW. The peak trading price so far was $1.16 on January 2, 2018.
GNT can’t be mined, although it’s earned by donating computing power to solve complicated algorithms. From the miner’s perspective, this works like any mineable cryptocurrency, except the end product isn’t a processed blockchain, but rather a wide range of computing services.
In fact, Golem could be used to mine other cryptocurrencies and tokens. In this scenario, you would essentially pay GNT to harness other people’s CPUs or GPUs (functionality pending) to mine your crypto of choice with blockchain technology. Whether Golem’s pricing is competitive with other cloud-mining services or building a mining rig has yet to be determined.
How Golem Works
Golem was created by Golem Factory, a Switzerland-based organization co-founded by CEO Julian Zawistowski, CTO Piotr Janiuk, and COO Andrzej Regulski. Like Uber and Airbnb, it’s a two-sided marketplace, requiring Golem Factory to market to both requestors and providers of computing power. It’s actually a three-sided marketplace, but we’ll get into that in a minute.
There are two systems in place to protect the integrity and security of processes and transactions on the Golem Network – concents and Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX).
A concent is a third-party that verifies the data output and financial transactions. These concents are trusted proprietary software developers who have the knowledge to verify positive results. They can force the transaction through whatever step it’s stuck on in the event of a protocol dispute or network disconnect. The use of a concent is optional and will require an additional fee.
SGX is an Intel-developed technology that creates a protected execution area in memory. This protects the code and data being processed from being compromised by either the computer provider or malicious parties taking over their computer. This provides end-to-end encryption, even in a distributed cloud computing model.
Using this secure P2P framework, tasks are split into multiple subtasks, where multiple computational backends can render them based on operating system and hardware configuration. Subtasks are then stitched back together to form the completed task.
In addition, these tasks won’t involve the Internet to protect providers from being used in botnet attacks.
As a provider completes tasks quickly and with high accuracy, its trust rises. To complete a task, the provider needs software capable of processing the required data. This requires developers, and drawing these developers to the platform now creates a three-sided marketplace, adding another obstacle to Golem’s success. Software developers will need to program Golem compatibility into their apps for it to be useable.
It’s not impossible – just difficult to build such a market, and Golem does have several use cases.
The Power of Cluster Computing
Supercomputing is one of the most important technologies of the modern age. New technologies like machine learning/artificial intelligence, 8k computer-generated graphics rendering, and scientific simulations are very hardware intensive. Even though today’s multi-threaded CPUs dwarf what was available a decade ago, they still need help computing these tasks fast enough.
The first use case of Brass Golem focuses on CGI rendering using Blender and LuxCoreRender. Both are free, open-source software programs, and they can actually work in conjunction with each other. Models would be created in Blender and rendered in LuxCoreRender.
Blender is a complete toolset capable of 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, raster graphics editing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, sculpting, animating, motion graphics, video editing, and more. It even has an integrated game engine.
The computer hardware needed to use these platforms is a bit unaffordable to the average person, however. A brief scroll through Quora finds people using 750 CPU cores and 40 GPU processors to still struggle produce 8K cinematic quality on Blender.
With the Golem network, anyone from a hobbyist or student to commercial projects could use these programs. However, it’s important to know Hollywood studios (who rely heavily on CGI for most movies) are unlikely to ever use such a crowdsourced solution. This is because of the risk of leaks. In fact, even scripts are typically faxed rather than emailed for fear of leaks.
Many Hollywood studios like Pixar use proprietary software platforms built in-house. This creates an extra layer of security as even if files are somehow leaked, nobody would have the program needed to open them. Convincing these studios to make the switch could be challenging.
Corporate Hollywood isn’t the only customer, though. Video game developers, indie movie makers, scientists, schools, and artists could benefit from this technology. Golem opens possibilities that were previously unobtainable to the average person. It could democratize supercomputing and make it as commonplace as logging on to social media.
Whether it’s used enough to sustain the business (and whether the Ethereum blockchain can scale to handle wider usage) is the question.
Golem is an ambitious project that uses distributed cloud computing to make supercomputing power available to the masses. It so far only works for CPU CGI rendering, but the team is working hard to develop more use cases. The success of Golem depends on these factors.
- Golem is a three-sided marketplace that lets providers rent out computing power to requestors to perform calculations using compatible software.
- Instead of mining, GNT is earned by providing adding your computer to the cluster. Tasks are divided into subtasks and completed based on available power.
- Intel SGX isolate Golem processes from the rest of your computer to ensure end-to-end security of data and files being processed.
- Golem Factory is actively seeking developer and requestors to ensure a sustainable market for providers. Machine learning and other use cases are in the works.
With these pieces in place, Golem is well-positioned for future success. Whether graphic designers, scientific research teams, video game developers, or movie producers, access to supercomputing power can achieve things once only accessible to super-wealthy and corporate conglomerates.
Golem is flipping that paradigm on its head. It’ll be interesting to see if they can convince professionals at conferences like the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) or the Game Developer Conference (GDC) to accept their solution.
Keep watching the cryptocurrency news and the Golem price and market cap for the answer.