Does the latest emergence in technology pave a new future for computing, and drag cryptocurrencies with it?
Decentralization is increasingly becoming a more prominent power in the business and technology worlds, particularly with the rise of the blockchain and with it the cryptocurrency marketplace.
Before anything in this article can easily be understood, the meaning of decentralization and supercomputers should be explained:
Decentralization means having the power or control (of organizations for example) moved from a single place to multiple places where no single place has more authority than another one.
The idea of decentralization has expanded beyond general technology in the last decade. When it was released, Bitcoin was the first decentralized cryptocurrency. In this sense, decentralized means it is not monitored or controlled by a single authority; rather, each cryptocurrency is responsible for its own management.
Bitcoin led the way for over a thousand other cryptocurrencies to emerge. To the point where a number of people applied the idea of decentralization to the development of some awesome machines.
Machines called supercomputers. What are they? Well, you guessed it! They are computers with a high level of performance compared to the general-purpose one. They are used for intensive tasks in fields such as quantum mechanics, climate research and so on, is essential in the field of cryptanalysis.
In this article, we will discuss decentralized supercomputer networks and how they have already risen to affect the cryptocurrency world. By looking at pre-existing projects, such as Golem, SONM, and iExec, we will take a look at their individual differences and similarities. We will also dive into the success stories, and how these machines measure up against centralized networks.
A BRIEF HISTORY – WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The idea of a supercomputer is not a new one. It has existed since as early as 1964, where scientists decided to install new parts and capabilities onto a pre-existing machine that was already running, leading to the first SC called CDC 6600.
However, a successful, decentralized machine, working alongside cryptocurrency, is a very recent development.
It truly all began with a project based in Warsaw, Poland called Golem. This network made its home on the Ethereum blockchain – a public record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency in chronological order – where its users give the fuel for its supercomputing power. The power to turn processing hours into minutes. That power can be rented globally, using Golem’s own cryptocurrency, GNT, as payment.
Having raised an astounding $8.6 million within the space of half an hour during the ICO, Golem is one of a fair few success stories. Other companies in the crypto sphere were quick to take this project as an example of the supercomputing power. Some have thrived in the same or similar ways as Golem. Others have failed or been exposed as scams or frauds.
WHAT IS A SUPERCOMPUTER USED FOR?
Did you know? The most powerful supercomputer in the world is enabled with enough power to perform literally quadrillions of calculations and processes per second. If you had one to put your latest YouTube video together, you wouldn’t have to sit around for hours waiting for the finished product to render, etc. It would be done before you could even blink.
These days, we seem to value our comfort more and more, and some observant people across the world have taken advantage of that. In doing so, they have exploited cryptocurrency’s popularity and value at the same time.
In simple terms, users can rent out the surplus power from their electronic devices in exchange for a cryptocurrency. This power is then used by those who rented it to speed along their projects. For example, it has been purchased by animators to lower their rendering time.
Moreover, common people can use their computers to rent processing power by sharing the resource with others safely and reliably. Anyone can meet the requirements: have a home computer and a stable internet connection.
There are numerous software options anyone can employ to do the job. The computer is left turned on while other people use programs on it no worries, personal data is protected. Let’s take Slicify as a good example. When one uses this software, their computers are listed in a pool where buyers can see the details of it and choose whether or not it is good enough for them.
For this example, Slicify pays its users by the hour and depending on the power and the capacity of the PC, the earnings can range from $0.02 to $4.60 per hour.
Other paid distributed computing projects include: Gomez Peer; Digital/Coin Generation; MQL 5- Distributed Cloud Network.
CENTRALIZATION VS. DECENTRALIZATION – PROS AND CONS
It is important to observe how the decentralized supercomputer deals with its centralized counterpart. What do they provide that the centralized computer cannot?
One of the main things in having a centralized system can be to ensure flexibility. With all resources stored in one convenient place, it makes it easy for the system administrator to maintain and back up while upgrades and other such tasks can be performed at the same time.
On the other hand, decentralized devices need to be updated and maintained individually. If there are a number of machines all using power from the same decentralized supercomputer, they will still be required individual attention to keep them operational.
Another thing that a centralized device has over its decentralized relatives is the security capabilities. The server through which centralized devices work can only be accessed by authorized people, i.e., the administrators. As such, any unauthorized users attempting to hack into these systems would set off certain alarms and get caught (and we will look into a couple of those cases later in the article).
By contrast, due to their independent, individual nature, decentralized machines and systems have no such natural protection. Like with each and every decentralized cryptocurrency, respective users of the supercomputers are responsible for the device’s own security and maintenance. They, therefore, have to personally invest in further, external modes of securing their information and data.
However, while a decentralized system does present its list of difficulties, it has its advantages over centralization as well. For instance, if the decentralized device experiences system breaks, its separate nature prevents all other devices from going down too.
This sets them apart from centralized devices, which are based on a single server. If a server is hacked or infected by a virus, it affects all machines and users connected to the system. Centralized systems are used by many large businesses and corporations to handle and manage multi-client issues. As such, a single point of failure like a server crash can affect both employees and customers. That in turn, can have a negative effect on these companies’ reputation and income.
Further to this point, a decentralized supercomputer will have the computing power to handle and fix problems that only affect a single machine. The server connecting centralized machines have a much larger amount to deal with in the event of an incident. Ideally, these should be equipped accordingly to stop these multi-user issues efficiently.