The Rise of io.net: Decentralizing AI Compute

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on April 11, 2024

In the 19th century, the California Gold Rush completely reshaped the United States as prospectors flocked to the region in search of riches. Today, a new kind of gold rush is underway: the rush for computing power to fuel the AI revolution. At the heart of this whirlwind stands NVIDIA, whose stock price surged 239% in 2023 as demand for its GPUs (graphics processing units) skyrocketed.

On the other hand, centralized cloud giants Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, whose combined $6 Trillion market cap has benefited greatly from the high demand for cloud services, are struggling to keep up with the insatiable demand for AI compute (computational power), leading to high prices, long wait times, and limited options for AI startups and innovators.

Enter io.net, a decentralized cloud compute provider which has achieved a $1 billion private market valuation and raised $40 million from various venture capital firms, showcasing significant market confidence in both its vision and the scalability of its network since its launch in November 2023.

Here, we discuss the decentralization and accessibility of the AI compute market by io.net, its technological and economic innovations, and plans for market expansion.

Market Disruption

io.net is on a mission to disrupt the AI compute market through decentralization. The centerpiece is the IO Cloud, a permissionless, distributed network of GPUs and CPUs (central processing units) that anyone can tap into on-demand without long-term contracts or KYC.

Developers can quickly deploy ML clusters, while hardware providers earn rewards for contributing compute to the network. The result is a more accessible, flexible, and cost-effective alternative to big-box centralized cloud behemoths. 

The Birth of Digital Oil and $IO, the Currency of Compute

io.net was born out of necessity. In 2020, founder Ahmad Shadid was building quantitative trading systems and ran into the common roadblock of high GPU costs from existing providers. So, he built his own distributed GPU network to cut expenses.

After the ChatGPT launch, Shadid realized the opportunity to bring this network architecture to the broader market. A few months and a Solana hackathon victory later, io.net officially launched.

The IO Cloud already boasts an impressive 300,000 GPUs and 40,000 CPUs distributed globally. Crypto partners, like Filecoin, Render, and Gaimin, have surfaced their own GPU networks to the IO Cloud to take advantage of io.net’s self-service cluster virtualization and AI-ready orchestration layer.

How It Works

Accessing compute is simple through the intuitive dashboard at cloud.io.net. Here, developers can view stats, manage clusters, and track network performance. Hardware providers can also monitor their machines and earnings.

Under the hood, the io.net stack is powered by the IO-SDK and a specialized fork of Ray, the same open-source network architecture used by OpenAI and Uber. The modular architecture is designed for reliability and flexibility while scaling up parallel processing capabilities to handle AI/ML workloads. APIs enable connectivity while the infrastructure layer handles core functions like GPU provisioning, monitoring, and ML ops. This layered approach prevents single points of failure and allows the swapping of components as needed.

“Compute power is the new oil for the AI era,” said Ahmad Shadid, CEO and co-founder of io.net. “By leveraging GPU power as a decentralized resource, io.net will continue to play a crucial role in the future of technology and economy, with compute power backing the value of $IO.”

Launch of the Ignition Program

However, io.net’s biggest advantage may be its crypto-economic model. By building on Solana, the network gains a trustless settlement layer without legacy inefficiencies. Plus, the $IO token — set to launch in April following io.net’s Ignition Program — has the ambition to become the currency of compute, attracting users and incentivizing infrastructure buildout in a continuous growth cycle.

The Ignition program aims to incentivize and reward IO Network suppliers and community members for their contributions to the network. Participants can earn rewards by supplying GPUs to the network, with factors such as job hours completed, node bandwidth, GPU model, and uptime taken into consideration by the rewards algorithm.

“We are thrilled to launch the Ignition program as the first step in our mission to decentralize the IO Network and transition governance to the community,” said Garrison Yang, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at io.net. “By incentivizing and rewarding our suppliers and community members, we aim to expand access to underutilized GPU resources and make the power of AI accessible to anyone in the world.”

Compute Power: The Lifeforce of AI 

With its strong unit economics and token incentives, io.net is poised to grow exponentially, grabbing market share from the cloud giants. The timing could not be better, as the world is waking up to the transformative potential of AI. By making AI/ML compute more accessible, io.net is democratizing access to this critical resource.

While centralized providers struggle with capacity, io.net offers an elegant solution through decentralization: It provides the tools and infrastructure for anyone to participate in the AI revolution. As more developers and suppliers plugin, network effects should drive rapid expansion and adoption.

The California Gold Rush completely reshaped the Western United States in the 1800s. Now, io.net is in pursuit of reshaping computing for the AI age. If successful, it could become an essential backbone for the next generation of AI innovation. The IO Cloud may very well enable the next OpenAIs and Anthropics but in a more open and permissionless way. Keep an eye on this project as the decentralized AI compute wars heat up.

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily Group, encompassing Financial Tech Times, Smartech Daily, Transit Tomorrow, BlockTelegraph, Meditech Today, High Net Worth magazine, Luxury Miami magazine, CEO Official magazine, Luxury LA magazine, and flagship outlet, Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he was on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 50+ early stage startups with 10+ exits through 2023.

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