Is the Computing Sector Surfing the AI Surge?

AccessTimeIconAug 1, 2023 at 6:58 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 29, 2023 at 11:34 a.m. UTC

The crypto market has seen a volatile yet cautiously encouraging year, with the CoinDesk Market Index (CMI) up 63% so far in 2023. However, in this particular market, a significant amount of this gain can be attributed to Bitcoin, which is up 76% year-to-date. Only 10% of the CMI constituents have outperformed Bitcoin during this period.

One side effect of Bitcoin’s marked increase in value is that it can overshadow other noteworthy trends, such as the standout performance of several computing-related assets. The CoinDesk Computing Index (CPU), the benchmark index for the computing sector, includes computing protocols as defined by CoinDesk’s Digital Asset Classification Standard (DACS). DACS seeks to classify the top 500 digital assets by market capitalization into seven sectors: Currency, Smart Contract Platforms, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), Culture & Entertainment, Computing, Digitization, and Stablecoin.

So far in 2023, we have seen several assets within the CPU index outperform amid the recent focus on Artificial Intelligence and distributed computing. As shown below, we’ve broken down the percentage of assets that have increased in value across all six CMI sector benchmark indices (the Stablecoin sector is not included in CMI).


Computing stands out against the other sectors due to the number of the index’s members that have not only outperformed but also beaten BTC’s impressive gain. In other words, this chart illustrates that an investment in a random member of the CPU index at the beginning of 2023 would have had a 70% chance of experiencing a gain and a 1 in 5 chance of outperforming Bitcoin’s 76% year-to-date return.


CPU contains projects that aim to decentralize the sharing, storing, and transmission of data. Some of the leading assets within the index this year include Render Token (RNDR), a distributed GPU rendering network, up more than 300%; Fetch.Ai (FET), a decentralized machine learning network, up 137%; data marketplace Ocean Protocol (OCEAN), up 127%; and The Graph (GRT), a data indexing protocol, up 111%. All four protocols relate to big data and increasing computational power, two necessities for large language models, which require vast computational resources ​​to learn complicated patterns.


The outperformance of these specific assets comes at a time of skyrocketing public interest in large language models, which heavily depend on computing power and data. This correlation becomes evident when we compare CPU with Google Trends for "Chat GPT," one of the most widely used applications of large language models. As interest in the Google search term surged early in the year, so did CPU returns, with the index peaking in February 2023, just before interest in “Chat GPT" peaked in March. As interest began to wane later in the year, so did CPU’s performance. The emphasis on enhancing computational resources among protocols represented in CPU, such as Render and Ocean, suggests a fundamental link between CPU performance and sentiment surrounding AI technology.

In summary, the increased interest in AI and distributed computing this year has coincided with a marked appreciation in several CPU-related assets, particularly those associated with AI technology.

For more information about the CMI and our broad market benchmarks and investible sectors, including the CoinDesk Computing Select Index (CPUS), visit us at, and for more inquiries, contact us at


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Tracy Stephens

Tracy Stephens is a Senior Index Manager at CoinDesk Indices.