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Intel is Testing a Blockchain it Built With a Fantasy Sports Game

(@mpmcsweeney) | Published on February 26, 2016 at 17:00 GMT
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IT giant Intel is running an internal blockchain trial centered on a fantasy sports market.

The proof of concept works by enabling the exchange of digitized assets that represent shares of different sports teams. Each contestant is given a set of shares, as well as a quantity of in-game currency called "mikels".

Participants can then sell or trade the shares with the league or other players, with buyback offers for shares tied to the number of points scored by teams during games they win. At the end of the trial, the user with the most currency is declared the winner.

The concept was presented earlier this month by Intel during a closed-door meeting for the Hyperledger Project, the Linux Foundation-led open-source blockchain initiative that includes 30 members from major tech institutions, international banks and industry startups.

An Intel representative said during that meeting that the game is currently open to anyone at the Santa Clara-based company for participation, remarking that the company sees the trial as a way to test the strength of its internal blockchain technology.

The representative explained:

"We’re actually taking that marketplace out and we’re running an internal trial … which is a football exchange, but it will be an NCAA basketball pool kind of game where you exchange shares of teams. Our expectation is that it’s going to give us expectations of real workloads running in the wild in consumer applications."

Notably, the representative said it’s blockchain is not yet "production quality" and that it is currently being optimized for performance.

Intel Slide

Though the company has been quiet about its work, Intel’s involvement with bitcoin and blockchain tech is not new, and can be traced back to its work with 21 Inc, the bitcoin startup for which it developed mining chips.

As reported by CoinDesk, staff within Intel had expressed interest in developing mining chips – computer components used to verify bitcoin transactions – for deployment in consumer products, though the status of such efforts is unknown.

When reached for comment, Intel said it is not seeking to provide more details on the trial at this time, stating:

"Intel explores the potential of new technologies on a regular basis."

'Complete ledger'

Now, Intel has what it called a "complete ledger", though the representative indicated that the current design is subject to change and final approval.

The initiative is said to have grown out of the firm's in-house research efforts, during which time was spent experimenting with consensus algorithms, including bitcoin’s.

During the meeting, Intel's representative offered details on some of the approaches the company has taken in its research and development work, with the rep explaining that its consensus protocol "looks an awful lot like what’s in use in bitcoin’s blockchain".

However in Intel’s design, bitcoin’s proof-of-work verification, which finds a decentralized network of computers securing the blockchain with computing power, is replaced a system Intel has dubbed "proof-of-processor".

Decentralized markets

Intel is also interested in the various types of blockchain technologies so far developed, with the rep noting that the company sees value in ledgers that do not restrict access to participants as permissioned ledgers do.

"We at Intel are concerned about usages where, not necessarily cryptocurrency kinds of things, but open market and consumer applications," said the rep.

Intel said it experimented with a number of consensus algorithms and variations on features within these designs, and that the company’s researchers have focused on scripting languages, transaction rule-making and APIs.

As for the status of Intel’s blockchain tech, the current implementation is said to be written in Python, a choice made due to the firm’s desire to focus on extensibility and modularity.

Pete Rizzo contributed reporting.

Image Credit: NorGal / Shutterstock.com

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