One of the world’s largest electrical companies Électricité de France (EDF), laying claim to at least $33 billion in market share is looking to jump ship onto the blockchain. Partnering with Ethereum-based decentralized application (dApp) iExec, the company is launching a test program dubbed GPUSPH that will help simulate some of its operations on the blockchain. The aim being that EDF seeks to find out whether the blockchain is as good as the hype it has generated so far.
GPUSPH is a visual simulation software that will be running atop iExec’s cloud computing infrastructure in which it will explore the field of “smoothed particle hydrodynamics” for modeling fluids. GPUSPH is capable of exploring complex topics that EDF deals in including, for example, water dams and lava cooling but for the test program, EDF will focus on one area. The end results from the experiment will be compared with their currently normal computing environments and see whether or not blockchain will have an impact on the company’s bottom-line.
Speaking to Coindesk, Gilles Deleuze a blockchain engineer at EDF said that:
“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.”
The size of EDF may limit its nimbleness when it comes to adopting new technology but EDF thinks that blockchain may be worth the shot. Once they conclude this experiment, the company will be engaging in more experiments with iExec to further discover ways to improve its processes on the blockchain. Deleuze said that:
“The plan is to continue with other open scientific codes requiring possibly other types of workerpools.”
One limitation with Ethereum that makes it less appealing to potential users such as EDF is the matter of scalability or rather lack thereof. In its current iteration, Ethereum blockchain is rather slow compared to several other blockchains but it is more decentralized than most. iExec’s head of innovation and adoption Jean-Charles Cabelguen revealed that their dApp has a way of circumventing that limitation.
“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,” he said. The concept relates more to using side-chains or second layer chains to ease the traffic on the main Ethereum chain.