In a talk with cryptocurrency news outfit Coindesk published July 24, Josh Peek from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) revealed plans to create a blockchain network to help them process data.
Peek said that space telescopes, like Hubble, require hours of computing power to process massive amounts of data, and this can become expensive.
Computing Power Needed
In the past, researchers could only use a small amount of computing power, resulting in basic results and possibly introducing errors that would impact other research. Today, advances in computer technology have put and more computing capability at the researchers’ fingertips, and a lot more data, too.
The use of a decentralized network may provide a more efficient use of resources, allowing users to log into a network far larger than what is available from traditional server farms.
The researcher explains that:
“Tens of millions of CPU hours can really run up a bill. NASA and [STScI] use computing centers and that’s a way we can go … but there’s a long latency period where you go through a grant process … and so the idea came up that we could use a distributed network to do this really efficiently, it’s 10 times cheaper than standard cloud computing.”
Working With Blockchain
Peek is currently working with AIKON and Hadron, two blockchain startups, to process data. AIKON provides the interface where data can be entered, after which it is processed and rendered by Hadron’s blockchain.
He compared the network to the [email protected] program, which helps Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researchers crowdsource computing power. Peek is essentially doing the same thing, only with a blockchain network.
“The idea is, we work through AIKON, [which] works as an intermediary and they provide a simple interface for companies to use, or for research groups like mine,” the researcher explains.
AIKON’s chief product officer Marc Blinder says Haron is a very useful proof-of-work blockchain, that processes the data provided by researchers. Computing time is paid for via the use of AIKON’s “CPU” token.
To reduce the volatility of the token, it is pegged to the average cost of computing power charged by cloud hosting services, Blinder says.
The network is currently in tests now, with the plan to ultimately have research groups and other clients buying CPU tokens to rent computing power via the blockchain.
Hadron and AIKON’s new system harnesses the power of a distributed network for researchers and looks to be the future of distributed computing.