Microsoft Launches Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) at Devcon, Boosts Ethereum

Bitcoin Magazine
Microsoft Launches Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) at Devcon, Boosts Ethereum

Recently Bitcoin Magazine reported that Microsoft has partnered with Consensys, a blockchain startup focused on Ethereum technology. Through the partnership, customers of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise computing service, will be able to easily build cloud-based blockchain applications, from securities trading to cross-border payments to corporate accounting, and offer them to their own customers.

As anticipated, more details of the partnership and Microsoft’s plans for cloud-based blockchain services were unveiled at Ethereum’s Developer Conference, DEVCON on November 10 in London.

Reuters reports that the platform will be available to banks and insurance companies that are already using Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure platform. Microsoft said four large global financial institutions had already signed up to the service.

“Working with our customers that wanted to start playing around with blockchain technology, the major pain point that we kept hearing from them was that it was just too hard to get started, and too expensive,” said Microsoft’s Marley Gray, director of tech strategy for financial services.

Gray added that the technology would allow companies to create their own private blockchains, or so-called “smart contracts” that automatically execute the terms of an agreement, in 20 minutes, even with no prior experience. Gray also confirmed the ongoing shift of Microsoft’s strategy to the cloud.

“We bet the entire farm on the cloud, pretty much,” he said. Azure, first announced in 2008 and launched in 2010 as Windows Azure, is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform and infrastructure for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of data centers managed by Microsoft and partner companies.

Engadget notes that the move is well-timed, as banks are starting to get seriously interested in bItcoin-style currency.

Microsoft’s post to the Azure website announces that Microsoft and ConsenSys are partnering to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure. Now, Azure Enterprise clients and developers have a single-click cloud-based blockchain developer environment.

The initial offering contains two tools – Ether.Camp and BlockApps – that allow for rapid development of smart contracts. Microsoft has already made available an Azure quickstart template that deploys a Go Ethereum client along with a genesis block on Ubuntu virtual machines.

Gray told International Business Times that Microsoft’s Azure customers began asking about blockchain during the summer, and the partnership with ConsenSys followed from that.

“We found the ecosystem for Ethereum specifically was very daunting to get started,” Gray said. “The tools were rough, it’s not enterprise grade. It was hard to attract people and to scale, to be able to work with it.

“So we set out upon making it easier for our enterprise customers to do development testing on blockchain-based applications very rapidly without costing a fortune,” he added, “so they could do innovative work without risking anything.”

Another post in the general Microsoft news area notes that Microsoft believes that Ethereum provides the flexibility and extensibility many of its customers were looking for.

“Ethereum is open, flexible, can be customized to meet our customer’s needs, allowing them to innovate and provide new services and distributed applications or Đapps,” states Microsoft. “Ethereum enables SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (ĐApps) to be built, potentially cutting out the middleman in many industry scenarios streamlining processes like settlement. But that is just scratching the surface of what can be done when you mix the cryptographic security and reliability of the Blockchain with a Turing complete programming language included in Ethereum, we can’t really image what our customers and partners will build.”

The importance of Microsoft’s official endorsement for the emerging Ethereum ecosystem can’t be underestimated. Now Ethereum has a solid presence in one of the hottest high-growth sectors of information technology – large enterprise cloud computing – through a partnership with one of the main players in the field.

The post Microsoft Launches Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) at Devcon, Boosts Ethereum appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Avalon Releases New ASIC Miner & Begins Shipping Worldwide through BlockC Partnership
blockquote { background: #f9f9f9; border-left: 10px solid #ccc; margin: 1.5em 10px; padding: 0.5em 10px; quotes: “\201C””\201D””\2018″”\2019”; } blockquote:before { color: #ccc; content: open-quote; font-size: 4em; line-height: 0.1em; margin-right: 0.25em; vertical-align: -0.4em; } blockquote p { display: inline; }

Avalon, the first company to manufacture ASIC mining chips and sell them to consumers, has returned to the marketplace with a new chip after an absence of several years. Avalon has announced a new A3218 mining chip that will be released in the Avalon6 miner.

According to Avalon, each server can process 3.65 TH/s at a power efficiency of 0.29 W/GH. Each server is composed of 80 of the Avalon A3218 chips. The system requires, at minimum, a 12VC DC, 1,100 watts PSU output. Unlike the other companies that have been developing 14nm chips, Avalon decided to stick with its 28nm ASIC chip.

“What I can tell you is that Avalon was offered the 14nm Samsung chip many months ago, and they declined,” explained Sean Walsh, Founder of BlockC, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine . “The 14nm process node is very new, very slow to design/produce, very difficult, very expensive and doesn’t currently yield efficiency gains that even come close to compensating for all this. Avalon will produce at smaller process nodes, but only once it actually makes financial sense to do so.”

Canaan-Creative, the parent company of Avalon, and BlockC have recently announced a partnership that results in BlockC becoming the global distributor (except in China) of all Avalon products and services in the bitcoin space.

According to Walsh, 1 petahash of processing power would cost approximately $350,000 to $360,000.

This is quite a bit cheaper than the only other seller on the market, Bitmain, for two reasons,” Walsh said. “First, Bitmain is currently advertising prices of about $380,000 per petahash. Second, Bitmain is not shipping any miners until mid-December, which is a full month later than BlockC.co ship dates. One Petahash currently earns about $90,000 per month in gross profit (after paying electric bills). Running the numbers, BlockC/Avalon is about 7 percent lower on sales price, plus the 25 percent you gain by emerging your PH a month sooner. That’s an effective savings of over 30 percent.”

BlockC expects the first batch of Avalon6 miners to arrive in their California datacenters by November 12, 2015. It is currently selling the servers in batches of 10, providing 36.5 TH/s for $14,950.

Who is Avalon?

Avalon is one of the oldest bitcoin mining hardware companies in the ecosystem. Canaan Creative, the parent company of Avalon, was founded in 2012 by NG Zhang, Jiaxuan Li, who goes by the name Lee, and Xiangfu Liu. The first miner they released was the Icarus, which was a programmable Xylinx FPGA chip released in the beginning of 2012. Soon after, they released the Lancelot, which was also based on the Xylinx FPGA.

However, Avalon is best know for releasing the first Bitcoin ASIC miner. In October 2012, NG and Lee began working on Avalon 1, which was a 110nm ASIC chip. Less than a year later, the miner was released, ushering in an era of high-powered, specialty bitcoin miners.

They faced some backlash during 2013 due to some production delays, coupled with some probably overly optimistic claims that Yifu [Guo] had made to the public,” Walsh explained. Yifu Guo agreed to do sales and marketing for NG and left in 2013. “However, they resolved the issues, and refunded many tens of thousands of bitcoins to customers. I believe all customers were compensated generously.”

Throughout its history, Avalon has released five generations of Bitcoin ASIC chips: 110nm, 55nm, 40nm, and now two 28nm designs. The A3218 is its latest generation.

While Avalon has kept a low profile for the past few years, Walsh explained that the company is planning to expand beyond just mining. They recently closed a large series A of venture capital financing, which the company will use for acquisitions and organic growth initiatives.

Avalon was (and still is to a large extent) 100 percent devoted to open source software and hardware, as well as the global mainstream adoption of Bitcoin,” Walsh said.

With so many other firms taking their bitcoin miners in-house and not selling to the general public, an additional competitor in the public-mining space could bring about continuous development in new, more advanced chips.

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief .

The post Avalon Releases New ASIC Miner & Begins Shipping Worldwide through BlockC Partnership appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

DOJ Holds Digital Currency Summit with Government Agencies and Bitcoin Organizations
blockquote { background: #f9f9f9; border-left: 10px solid #ccc; margin: 1.5em 10px; padding: 0.5em 10px; quotes: “\201C””\201D””\2018″”\2019”; } blockquote:before { color: #ccc; content: open-quote; font-size: 4em; line-height: 0.1em; margin-right: 0.25em; vertical-align: -0.4em; } blockquote p { display: inline; }

In an effort to create more dialogue between regulators, law enforcement, and digital currency companies and organizations, the U.S. Department of Justice convened a seminar at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco.

According to a statement released by the DOJ, the summit included “approximately 175 government and industry participants, including representatives of federal and state law enforcement and regulatory agencies, digital currency and blockchain companies and organizations, and other technology companies and financial institutions.”

The event was organized by Kathryn Haun, who has been put in charge of the Digital Currency Task Force, a multi-agency task force of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and local agencies based in San Francisco.

“Generally, the point of the summit is to share information about common concerns. Regulators, industry leaders and law enforcement all have a common interest in responsibly developing these new technologies and keeping them free from those who would use them for illicit purposes,” said Abraham Simmons, assistant U.S. Attorney at the Department of Justice in San Francisco, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Along with the government agencies, there were leading bitcoin and blockchain companies in attendance as well. Some of the panel speakers in attendance were Wences Casares, CEO of Xapo; Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase; Adam Ludwin, CEO of Chain; and David Rutter, CEO of R3CEV.

Jerry Brito, the executive director of Coin Center, moderated a panel about regulation, with Jennifer Shasky Calvery, director of FinCEN, Jan Lynn Owen, commissioner of California DBO, and Erin Schneider of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Mood is Changing

Bitcoin has come a long way from a regulatory standpoint since it first came out. Whereas only a couple years ago, senators were decrying it for its use in purchasing drugs, now there are defined rules and regulations from FinCEN, the CFTC, the a much clearer understanding for law enforcement. More importantly, the mood has changed.

There was a similar gathering in February at the Treasury Department, and that was a little more formal, very stiff,” Brito said. “This one was interesting just to see so many of the same people eight months later. There’s a much more relaxed attitude and people understand this is not going away. They understand the industry is serious and wants to comply with regulation and wants greater clarity on regulation.”

Brito offered his hope for gatherings of this nature:

What’s important to me is that the day something bad happens we don’t want that to be the day we start exchanging information. We’ve already established friendships and relationships.”

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

The post DOJ Holds Digital Currency Summit with Government Agencies and Bitcoin Organizations appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.