Render Token and the Future of Media
There’s so much more to RNDR than a solution for the rendering market’s unmet GPU demand.
The rendering market context
We’re currently experiencing an exponential growth in the rendering market and it’s safe to say that it’s just the beginning. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this technology, let us break it down for you quite simply: rendering is the automatic process by which computer programs generate photorealistic or non-photorealistic images from a 2D or 3D model.
Our globalized culture is indisputably visual: images of all kinds are everywhere, and in increasingly complex formats. With each technological advance, the world of possibilities to work with visual elements continues to expand and diversify along with its applications. So, long story short, rendering becomes more and more necessary with each day. Numerous industries require these services: from architects and industrial engineers who plan, visualize and test their work to scientists who simulate environments from the past; from video games, TV and movies and their visual content for entertainment purposes to medicine, where these technologies enable advances like simulators for practicing or even helping in the process of performing surgeries. VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) are growing at amazing speed, and their applications extend to all of the industries mentioned above and far beyond, as we gave just a couple of examples. Truth be told, most any industry can benefit from these technologies.
The most efficient rendering hardware currently in existence is the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), originally designed for gaming and now widely used for mining cryptocurrencies, due to its massively parallel processing capability. Before the GPU breakthrough, rendering was done with CPUs (central processing unit), which only process instructions in a serial fashion.
Ten years ago, Jules Urbach realized that CPU processing speed was advancing far too slowly for what his ultimate vision of rendering entailed. In 2009, he founded OTOY and started to offer rendering services that are 40 times faster than the ones processed by CPU’s through its main software, OctaneRender.
The next step was cloud rendering through the Octane Render Cloud (ORC) which allowed users to access remote GPU power. Over its first decade OTOY has become a one of the worldwide leaders in the rendering market.
Over the past half-decade, there has been an exponential increase in the demand for rendering processes. With a stagnated supply, this has led to a pressing issue in the context in which centralized data centers aren’t able to scale fast enough. How can the rendering supply meet the current and the foreseeable demand in both short and long term? Let’s take a deep dive into the main causes of the market’s situation.
GPU Demand Growth: Powering Frontier Technologies
- Competing market segments and intensification of GPU usage
An increasingly large number of market segments (like the examples we listed above) are competing for limited GPU resources.
But in addition, the usage of rendering services not only expands to more and more industries, it also intensifies in each one of them. For instance around VR and AR developments. With the need to provide higher frame rates, higher resolution, more complex objects and more realistic images to further the leap of immersion, the usage of GPUs is getting more and more intense.
- New Formats Require Exponential Rendering Demand
Next generation holographic rendering with light fields has already arrived. All major video technology platforms at Google and Facebook are racing to offer light field publishing solutions. The current rendering infrastructure needs to expand as soon as possible to meet the demand of light field videos. At current cloud costs, 1hr of light field video costs $3.6m to render. Creating light fields at YouTube’s scale and rate today (300 hours of video uploaded every minute) would take: 347x more GPUs than exist in the world at $47 trillion every month (10x the GDP of Japan).
GPU Supply: Constrained for the last 5 years with soaring prices
- Constrained GPU supply
Over the last 5 years, market leaders have limited the supply of these components. This has led to soaring prices as the demand grew and resulted in very long waiting lists to receive the product once it’s been ordered. Even though you can increase the amount of cores for each GPU, the processing power of each core grows at a certain speed that basically doubles every two years according to Moore’s Law. This is why abrupt leaps in processing power for each unit can’t be expected.
- GPU Cloud Gap
Centralized data centers have been unable to expand fast enough to meet the demand nor offer competitive prices because they are barred from using consumer GPUs. Instead, centralized data centers use enterprise-grade GPUs hardware, designed for intense workloads, (eg. GP100–7,963 USD/ 197 OB) are 600% more expensive than consumer GPUs (eg. TitanX — 1,225 USD/ 230 OB) with a performance increase of only 17%.
Consumer GPUs come with every standard cell phone and computer fabricated and sold all over the globe. The number of circulating GPUs is estimated to be around 265 million, but fewer than 50,000 GPUs are currently available through centralized data centers such as AWS (Amazon Web Services).
Ok. So the question is: given the GPU Cloud Gap, could all the millions of GPUs in the world be connected and work on distributed tasks for complex rendering? The answer is yes.
This is precisely OTOY’s goal with Render Token by putting idle GPUs out there to work in a distributed and secure network that functions on the Ethereum blockchain. With just 1% of the idle GPUs in the RNDR network, we’d be adding the equivalent of $21bn GPU infrastructure with $0 capital expenditure. That’s a 5300% increase in rendering capacity vs. the public cloud today.
Mining cryptocurrencies is a lottery. Miners compete to solve cryptographic puzzles in order to validate transaction blocks. During this process each miner contributes computing power that translates in energy consumption. But only the ones who solve the puzzle are rewarded in the currency they are mining. This turns out to be extremely wasteful because they use up scarce resources without adding social value and without gaining any profit at all for the percentage of GPU processing power that didn’t solve the puzzle. The Render Token constitutes the means of maximizing GPU compute value in the mining community. Rather than just hashing random numbers, processing rendering jobs in the Render Token network results in a social benefit by providing necessary services while guaranteeing a reward in RNDR for each Watt of energy spent processing rendering jobs.
Blockchain’s promise to content creators
Up to now we’ve discussed our short term goals and benefits… but Render Token is going to be more than a decentralized exchange of rendering power across the blockchain. We’re thinking even bigger and want to share our vision for the future with you.
In the next couple of years we will definitely see the changes the revolution of decentralized internet protocols will bring to our relations with cultural goods in general: how we create, produce, share and consume them.
The Render Token network runs on the Ethereum blockchain. So, going back to where we started: what’s blockchain’s promise to content creators?
We could sum it up in three aspects: rights protection, monetization and bringing power back to individuals. Since the blockchain functions as a public database it’s an excellent means of protecting the property of digital assets and objects. Content can be time-stamped and stored with a unique ID. Once it’s stored, it’s virtually unchangeable, unlike what happens today once you download the material.
When it comes to monetization, Blockchain transactions work with smart contracts, code-based contracts that are activated by a given procedure and validated by all the computers on the network. Content owners will be able to program a set of these contracts to fit different usage policies for their work. Once the user selects the type of contract, the payment is instantly made with a near zero cost.
This would result in empowering creatives, one of the Render Token’s team’s greatest ambitions. By creating a network where consumers interact directly with creators, the network grants instant access to the content removing intermediaries that are currently part of the distribution and rights management process. This technology would guarantee lower costs for consumers and simultaneously more direct profit for the creatives themselves.
We envision Render Token as a foundation for monetizing authorship in a marketplace where virtual creations and ideas are exchanged based on creative value added on top of a base manufacturing cost (rendering expenses, among others). A decentralized and open global rendering system is foundational for disruptive services and platforms to evolve. Developing the necessary infrastructure is the goal of Phases I to III of our roadmap.
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