EDF, the fifth largest electrical utility company with a $33 billion market cap, has launched its visual simulator software GPUSPH on iExec, a decentralized application that operates on ethereum mainnet. With this, EDF can test how the program operates on a blockchain rather than a more normal computing environment.
Specifically, the simulator explores a field called “smoothed particle hydrodynamics” for modeling fluids. It’s technical in nature, but the general idea is that the GPUSPH application is useful for studying all sorts of things, like water dams, for example, or even lava cooling. EDF is trying to determine whether ethereum adds any benefits to the simulator, which typically runs on a GPU.
As EDF blockchain engineer Gilles Deleuze told CoinDesk:
“In a wider perspective, […] development of distributed computing is a credible scenario for the future, and blockchain may be a nice lever in this scenario. So, let’s explore it.”
Originally an extension of a decade-old research project, iExec is one of the longer-running ethereum apps, launched in 2016 to explore the concept of cloud computing on the blockchain. While the world of cloud computing is currently dominated by large companies, like Amazon, they’re trying to decentralize the form of computing on ethereum.
iExec head of innovation and adoption Jean-Charles Cabelguen argued to CoinDesk that the advantages of using iExec for GPUSPH are many, including clear monitoring of the state and computational power of the app and increased “resilience” of the app, as it’s running on a decentralize network.
But perhaps one of the most pressing problems ethereum faces is that it doesn’t scale well, at least not yet. But iExec argues they’ve come around with their own scaling solution to at least ensure their dapp is scalable.
“The heavy computing is done off-chain and does not overwhelm ethereum. Afterward, blockchain is used to reach a consensus on the validity of computation’s results. A hash of this result is stored on the blockchain,” Cabelguen said.
That said, EDF thinks the technology is worth exploring. Deleuze even added that EDF plans to launch other experiments on iExec in the future, stating:
“The plan is to continue with other open scientific codes requiring possibly other types of workerpools.”