In an Amazon Web Services (AWS) blogpost dated Thursday, August 1st, the subsidiary of Amazon, introduced the VDF|FPGA Design Competition in which AWS along with other parties will offer a $100,000 prize to the Forever Change Blockchain challenge to anyone who solves a 1024-bit input x.
Here is the problem:
One must compute the verifiable delay function of h=x^(2^t) mod N as fast as possible. The allotted timeframe is between Aug 1st and December 30, 2019.
The competition appears to be operated in rounds. In the first round, participants will be given $3000/ns for every reduction in speed of the FPGA baseline, which will be set at 50ns/modular squaring from the get-go. The second round will commence late October and the final, which will be revealed later, constitutes the coming together of competitors simply sharing their results.
Ethereum Foundation’s Researcher, Justin Drake argued that this endeavor has never been tried before, adding that he’s hopeful that the competition will “not only push forward a culture of collaboration between all kinds of blockchain projects, but open up the hardware design industry as well.”
He added that the winning teams will require members
“who are really good at hardware design, but also people with algorithmic skills,”
adding that, he anticipates winners to carry both skills.
The combined $100,000 is from a number of parties including AWS, Ethereum Foundation, Interchain Foundation, Protocol Labs, Supranational, Synopsys and Xilinx.
Many of these entities are hopeful of the benefits VDFs can bring, which are deemed low-level building block in cryptography. Drake shared that the V stands for Verifiable, which is a facet that makes VDFs “unique”. Then, the “D” stands for difficulty in delayed results, which is associated with the computational aspects. Moreover, said approach could potentially help those wanting to stay far from Proof-of-Work to a Proof-of-Stake.
Ultimately, the winning teams will have contributed to possibly making massive energy savings, while helping the blockchain technology overcome current issues including scalability and privacy. Most importantly, said goals need to be attained in a computationally practical way.
To learn more about the competition and what this means for the parties involved, click here.