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Xennet wants YOUR machines for tradable supercomputer cloud

SETI@home, Bitcoin the inspirations

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A group called Xennet wants to create a blockchain-managed market in which users rent out their spare processor cycles for a closed-shop crypto-currency.

The idea is a combination of two streams of thought: SETI@home and Bitcoin.

From SETI@home and other similar setups that have followed in its footsteps, Xennet wants to create a virtual supercomputer made out of the spare bits of processing on members' Internet-connected machines.

And from Bitcoin, Xennet wants to borrow the idea of a blockchain algorithm. XenCoins will be the medium by which Publishers (users who want to run computations) pay Providers (who provide the computation power) – and the blockchain will also be the medium of communication between Publishers and Providers.

Xennet itself will run the market platform that handles the trades, letting Publishers hire computers from the Xennet network and handling the payment (along with transaction fees for XenCoin miners).

The step-by-step provided by Xennet explains how someone would get the computation they need:

  • Publisher Alice puts her announcement into the blockchain, that she's seeking a defined hardware capacity.
  • Provider Bob polls the blockchain looking for announcements within his capacity. Seeing Alice's announcement, Bob connects to Alice's IP address.
  • Alice and Bob challenge each others' keys – the key pair of their blockchain addresses – to verify each others' identity.
  • Bob tells Alice what hardware he has available, the two negotiate a price, and after payment is made Bob creates a virtual machine that Alice accesses over SSH.

A micropayments protocol in Xennet measures usage and transfers the coins that Bob and Alice have agreed on.

Xennet process

The open-source-based system uses the lightweight Docker virtualisation tool, the Xennet-os Linux distribution, Xennet's own code to manage the containers, client daemons (xennetd and xennet-qt), the blockchain software (xencoind and xencoin-qt). The Phoronix benchmarking suite is used for benchmarking.

While Xennet doesn't envisage its XenCoin existing as a standalone crypto-currency, the organisation does say users could monetise XenCoin by using it to buy time to mine Bitcoins. ®

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