Is Decentralized Computing a Killer Crypto App Opportunity?

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are undoubtedly one of the most valued hardware resources in computing. Shareholders propelled GPU maker NVIDIA into the trillion-dollar club when the company announced increased demand for its products and quarterly revenue forecast of $11 billion at a recent investor briefing. And the value of GPUs is opening up new ways to use these high-performance chips, which include decentralized computing with rewards engineered thanks to a killer crypto app opportunity.

To understand how it all fits together, it’s worth highlighting some of the top GPU applications. NVIDIA, which designs the majority of graphics cards manufactured globally, was founded in the early 1990s to address the shortcomings of general-purpose computer chips. Ordinary CPUs, while incredibly flexible programming tools, aren’t ideal for processing complex graphics.

NVIDIA realized it could accelerate 3D and multimedia tasks by having chips with a smaller but graphics-specific instruction set and many more cores that allow for higher parallel processing. Taking NVIDIA’s latest GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card as an example, the GPU has 16384 NVIDIA CUDA cores, while a high-end Intel i9 CPU has 24.

Being able to split tasks at scale due to high core count allows GPUs to master various use cases. The success of NVIDIA’s trillion-dollar club has been driven by demand for data centers and cloud computing. More and more developers are integrating generative AI capabilities into their business applications as awareness of the capabilities of large language models (LLMs) grows.

And GPUs have proven to be ideal for LLM training and tuning, which has greatly buoyed the market for NVIDIA products. The Metas AI Research SuperCluster featured 6,080 GPUs (hosted in 760 NVIDIA DGX A100 systems) in its phase one configuration, and the number of GPUs has been increased to a whopping 22,000 to add even more computing power. Increasing the number of available GPUs from 6,080 to 22,000 boosts AI training performance by more than 2.5x, according to the Metas engineering team.

The rendering and why decentralized computing could be a killer crypto app opportunity

But the explosion of interest in generative AI shouldn’t distract from one of the main uses of GPUs. As the name suggests, graphics cards remain an integral part of computer-generated imagery, which in 2023 means not just video games, but various forms of entertainment and industrial applications.

Rendering, the process of creating 2D images from a 3D model, is used to create increasingly realistic computer graphics that can provide special effects in film and television, and digital mock-ups of products and buildings to name just a couple of examples. . Video game visuals have come a long way with advances in GPU-enabled rendering and graphics engines like Unreal Engine, Unity, Cry Engine, and others being used to create big-budget triple-A titles.

And that brings us to Render Token and other blockchain-based solutions to democratize access to digital assets like Golem, which recently unveiled a GPU Computing proof of concept. Render Token puts idle GPUs to work by monetizing peer-to-peer processing of computer-generated images using OTOY’s Octane Render. As a background, Octane Render has become an invaluable software tool for creating digital cinema and other visual assets for clients.

Most developer GPUs sit idle when they’re not rendering their work, leaving a large amount of potential horsepower waiting to be tapped, writes the team behind Render Network’s distributed GPU rendering on the blockchain. Once they have registered their idle GPUs on the rendering network, these GPU owners become node operators and can earn RNDR tokens.

Full details can be found in a white paper explaining how RNDR, a killer crypto app opportunity, allows GPU owners to get paid for rendering jobs on their machines for other users. Users post their render jobs on the community portal and receive a quote based on the task’s processing requests and the supply of GPUs available on the decentralized computing network.

Small computer, big project? The Render Network is your friend, commented one of the RNDR users in a video on Twitter.

To perform the work, payment is made (in RNDR) and a smart contract is created between the user and the owner of the GPU. In addition to recording the transaction, the blockchain entry can also be used for digital rights management as the ledger provides a record of the work.

Full details on supported GPUs for hardware owners considering offering rendering services and instructions on how to get started can be found in the Render Network Knowledge Base.

Airbnb data center model

Cryptocurrencies are not everyone’s cup of tea. And if the hype train on utility tokens like RNDR leaves you uneasy, there are still other ways to take advantage of underutilized GPUs. For example, FluidStack, founded by Oxford University students who noticed that machine learning researchers were paying high prices for cloud computing, while the relatively powerful gaming platforms owned by their friends sat idle 75% of the time is now applying Airbnb for GPUs at the data center level.

FluidStack, which today offers access to more than 47,000 GPU servers on six continents, enables data center operators to monetize excess capacity. And customers benefit from cheaper prices. According to FluidStack, users pay on-demand rates of just US$11.92 per hour compared to US$30.40 for equivalent services provided by leading cloud service providers.

In terms of requirements, FluidStack lists a sample configuration of 4 RTX A6000 GPUs and data center vendors need to host multiple NVIDIA GPU servers in a secure environment. Additionally, Airbnb’s GPU vendor has a preference for Tier 2+ data centers based on customer needs.

The growing application value of GPUs is leading to new models for accessing compute for rendering and other tasks. And these initiatives are giving hardware owners an incentive to boost GPU productivity rather than let expensive silicon sit idle.


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