EDF (Électricité de France), the fifth largest electrical utility company in the world, has launched its visual simulator software on iExec, a decentralized application that uses Ethereum behind the scenes. The EDF simulator explores “smoothed particle hydrodynamics” for modeling fluids and studying all sorts of things, such as water dams or lava cooling.
Normally the simulator would run on GPUs managed by EDF. But now they are experimenting with running them on iExec, a computing platform tightly integrated with Ethereum. iExec is a decentralized computing platform, allowing anyone with a computer to profit from allowing others to use their GPU/CPU cycles for anything from CGI rendering to training neural nets.
Resources that once would have sat idle can now be monetized on the decentralized computing network. These frameworks allow personal computers to do what was generally done by servers in computing farms.
Not only does iExec allow anyone to lease their computer power to crunch through protein folding algorithms or perform 3D rendering, but they also allow individuals to lease valuable data sets. For instance, if someone has machine-learning data that can differentiate a "car" from "a billboard with a picture of a car", or a dataset to distinguish an NSFW picture from a SFW one, they can offer that service on the network. Instead of trying to sell the dataset to a large operator, as you would have had to do in the past, you can now still retain your ownership and charge people per use of the data. iExec provides the platform for people to offer and bid on such services--it is live now. Ethereum is used to facilitate all the payments throughout the system.
There are other distributed computing platforms that use Ethereum as well. Golem has a transaction system matching providers and requestors, taking into account prices, reputations and their machines' performance. Tasks, i.e. files, needed for computation are sent to the provider's machine. After the computation is completed, the provider's app sends back the results to the requestor's app. If the result passes the verification process, the provider is paid for his work.
Another "fog computing" company SONM, uses Ethereum smart contracts to organize the logic of the SONM system: the market is embedded in a smart contract, which can be accessed by anyone to extract data on the availability of computing resources on the marketplace. In SONM, every user has a rating based on the history and results of deals they have made to sell or purchase computing power on the marketplace. SONM is a member of Cloud28+, Hewlett-Packard's cloud computing group, and partnered with many others in the blockchain and cloud computing space.
About the author
Dr. Lederer has over 15 years of technical experience in computer system design and programming. He has been teaching about blockchain and Ethereum for 3 years and recently co-authored Blockchain: A Practical Guide to Developing Business, Law, and Technology Solutions. Prior to working on blockchain technology, he worked at The Wall Street Journal, Morgan Stanley and BAE Systems, where he held a DoD TS (top secret) clearance to develop a novel mobile ad-hoc network for the US Air Force.