Golem: Global Decentralized Open Source Supercomputer

Golem describes itself as “a global, open sourced, decentralized supercomputer that anyone can access”. It is capable of computing a wide range of tasks, from machine learning to CGI rendering to scientific computing. Golem can be seen as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

Investor Chris Abshire writing on Medium says “Golem reveals its true potential by adding dedicated software integrations to the equation”. Anyone can create and utilize software on the Golem network by publishing it freely to the Application Registry. Developers can extend and customize the payment mechanism, leading to potentially unique mechanisms for monetizing software.

Golem’s users (dubbed providers by Golem) transfer part of their computer’s power to the global system, allowing other users (dubbed requestors) to purchase and deploy it. Anyone can participate and make money ‘renting’ out their computing power, whether a single device owner or a large data center; or by developing and selling software via the service.

What are its key Features?

The Application Registry and Transaction Framework are two of the most important features of the network. They offer developers flexible and efficient tools (such as high-level programming languages) to create, distribute and monetize new software.

One of the key initial markets offered on the network will be CGI. According to the company, “For computer graphics, Golem can distribute the task of rendering CGI, doing in minutes what would take days, for cheaper than anything else.” According to MarketsandMarkets.com, CGI rendering is currently a $1B market and expected to grow to a $3B market by 2022. CGI rendering is mainly being used by Golem as a Proof of Concept (PoC).

Other markets include:

  • Decentralized crypto-mining with the potential to be integrated into Proof of Stake
  • High Performance Computing (HPC) used in a wider range of applications, from stock market predictions to big data analysis
  • Architecture/Design
  • Video Rendering
  • Decentralized microservices and dapps

All computations take place in virtual machines and are isolated from the host’s system for security purposes. A reputation and ranking system of individual nodes is also aimed to promote security and trust on the network.

Who is Behind It?

All Golem’s 14 team members are Polish. Its CEO and founder, Julian Zawistowski, is also the CEO of imapp, a Polish consulting firm, and comes from an economics background, including working in government, private industry and for Poland’s national bank.

What is the Timeline?

Development on The Golem project started in 2014, and two years later was incorporated under Swiss law in Zurich, Switzerland.

There are four stages to the company’s roadmap: Brass, Clay, Stone and Iron. The basic version of Golem, Brass Golem, was developed in the first half of 2017. They are currently focused on Clay Golem, which introduces the task API and the Application Registry, which will help Golem reach its goal of becoming a multipurpose, generalized distributed supercomputer. At this stage, they are inviting developers to integrate with Golem, and warn “this version should be considered an experiment for early adopters and tech enthusiasts to prototype their new ideas and solutions on Clay”.

Iron Golem, the final version, will be developed within three years.

What is the GNT?

The Golem Network Token (GNT) is used by all requesters for payment, and received as remuneration by providers. GNT will also be used for all other interactions on the service, including submitting deposits by providers and software developers.

However, the Golem network (like many others) uses an Ethereum smart contract to trade GNT. Transactions are recorded onto the Ethereum blockchain, which updates the account balances of each computer that took part in helping make the transaction happen. The first miner to solve the computationally intense math problem wins the block reward and adds a new block of transactions to the ledger.

How will Golem Affect the Computing Landscape?

Investor Chris Abshire says, “Golem is set to become a key building block for future Internet service providers and software development”. By significantly lowering the price of compute-intensive tasks like CGI rendering, machine learning and scientific calculation, these applications become more accessible to the “common user”, the company’s target market. Whether or not, they can achieve their ambitious goal of being a “global open-sourced supercomputer that everyone can access” will depend on the number of users who join the network as it grows, and the amount of successful applications built upon it.

Fortune describes the Golem network as “an Airbnb for computing-processing power [which] enables machines around the world to transact with each other”. Following its ICO in November, its tokens have already appreciated 4,425% showing a great deal of enthusiasm in the market for its premise.

 Further Reading:

Golem website

Overview on ICO Bench

Overview on Medium by Cryptomover

Overview and Analysis on Medium by investor Chris Abshire

Analysis on Fortune

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