Altcoin Explorer: Golem, the Decentralized Supercomputer – Part 2
In part 1, we analyzed the operation of the Golem Network through the Application Registry and the Transaction Framework together with the use of the GNT token. In this second piece, we examine the progress achieved by the project and try to understand the opportunities and difficulties it might encounter during future development.
The Cloud Computing Market
Golem’s goal is to become a one-stop solution to compute specific tasks, allowing anyone around the world to run both small and large applications faster and more affordable than ever.
Golem, therefore, wants to take a slice of the cloud computing market which has seen massive growth over the past years, skyrocketing to more than $140 billion dollars from a value of less than six billion a decade ago.
Cloud computing is a technology that allows users to take advantage of computing services, storage space, and processing power through the internet, without the need for their own hardware and software.
This process should speed up applications and data, as well as build and remove core business systems whilst being an operational cost-savings technology. The problem is that at the moment, these promises seem a far cry away from being a reality.
Cloud computing is becoming more expensive and less secure making it a less attractive solution for IT companies. In addition, chances are if you’re spending money on cloud, some of that money is being wasted in part to complex and dynamic pricing packages, a user’s variable cloud spend, and higher regional costs.
Golems solution should theoretically overcome these problems as it will aggregate, and cross buyers and sellers of idle computing power in order to form a cloud market in which knowledge about other participants or players is available to everyone.
Thanks to Golem, users will no longer incur in waste money as computational tasks will be broken into pieces (subtasks) and distributed to providers on the Golem network, allowing for faster and more affordable computation. Plus, security won’t be an issue anymore as computations take place across several users on a decentralized P2P network with no single point of failure. To ensure that the work is carried out correctly, Golem has established a system of economic incentives and reputation which will guarantee that tasks are successfully executed.
Render Farm Experiment
Although Golem has been 3 years away from ICO, it still remains an embryonic project and the road to compete with current cloud computing services is still long and difficult. However, Magdalena Stasiewicz, a tester for Golem, reproduced an experiment that compares the cost of using Golem vs. other rendering farms for a Blender rendering task. The experiment was quite accurate as Magdalena installed an electric energy consumption meter, in order to measure energy intake, and thus cost, of running the tasks on a PC.
She decided to run Cornerstone Centre, 100 frames of animation by Todd McIntosh, and the Gooseberry Project. Although Magdalena had run the tasks in Golem on only one PC, results were promising and showed that the cost of computing with Golem is significantly lower than render farms’ fees for the same task.
[Image Source: Golem Medium]
Golem Roadmap: Brass release
During the ICO, Golem managed to raise 820,000 ETH in less than 20 minutes, which at the time amounted to 8 million dollars. However, the promises made were not kept as the team behind the project failed to deliver a product quickly. This is quite common for software projects and in particular, those related to blockchain as the team underestimated the complexity of what had to be done in order to execute their vision.
The first Brass beta release was launched in April 2018 after being in development for about two years. The first use case of Brass Golem focuses on Computer-generated imagery (CGI) rendering using the aforementioned open-source software programs titled Blender and LuxCoreRender. The computer hardware needed to use these platforms is a touch unaffordable for the average person, but with Golem users that desire to render a Blender or LuxRender scene can use the Brass Beta to distribute the CGI processing across many CPUs and GPUs, making these programs affordable even for students.
Which market is this solution addressed to? For example, companies that rely on CGI are Hollywood movie houses that use this technology to produce 8K cinematic quality using an enormous amount of hardware. Golem could be an alternative for this type of company but because of the risk of leaks, it may not be the case. For security reasons, Hollywood studios use proprietary software platforms that complicate the reproduction of the file in case of leaks.
However, film studios are not the only attractive customer. Golem makes computation accessible to any person regardless of the hardware they have. Something that at the moment seems to be unimaginable.
Brass is only the foundation stone of the project. The next updates have been called Clay Golem, Stone Golem, and Iron Golem. In the whitepaper are specific technical details for each “Golem” as well as a go-to-market strategy that highlights objectives and value propositions.
[Image Source: Golem]
The Golem Foundation
As explained, the development of Golem, given its complexity, is very slow. To speed things up, the founders of Golem announced the launch of the Golem Foundation in June 2019, an organization that will strive for new – perhaps innovative and experimental, and at the same time risk – approach to the value proposition for Golem and for the Golem Network Token (GNT).
The foundation currently holds more than 137,000 Ethers that had been received by the Golem Factory during the year. Although it was launched almost 6 months ago, the foundation has not yet specified which research areas it will explore and their website is still almost empty with only one post in their blog where they introduce the launch of the foundation.
Golem is certainly an ambitious project with a very long-term vision. For now, it is still in the experimental phase and taking into consideration the past three years it could remain so for a long time before being able to deliver a usable product.