What is Theta Network

Theta Network is the leading blockchain-powered decentralized cloud for AI, media and entertainment. It can be viewed as a "dual network" consisting of two complementary subsystems, the Theta Edge Network and the Theta Blockchain. The edge network provides vast amounts of GPU compute power for AI, video, rendering and other tasks, while the Theta blockchain provides payment, reward, and smart contract capabilities. Below we provide more details for the two components.

Theta Edge Network

Theta Edge Network is a decentralized network consisting of over 10,000 active global nodes with 80 PetaFLOPS of always available distributed GPU compute power, equivalent to 250 Nvidia A100s. Theta Edge Network powers the Theta EdgeCloud, a leading hybrid cloud-edge AI computing platform launched on May 1, 2024. Leveraging Theta's recently approved patent on ‘Edge Computing Platform supported by Smart Contract Enabled Blockchain Network’ and the upcoming release of Elite+ Booster edge nodes, all Theta community members will be able to participate and share in the rewards from EdgeCloud AI, video, 3D rendering and gaming compute jobs. While chatbots like ChatGPT and others utilize GPUs, new generative AI models such as text-to-video, text-to-3D and sketch-to-3D will require 10-100x the amount of computational power. The combined GPU compute power of Theta's decentralized edge network and its preferred cloud partners is 20-30x more than other comparable networks in the industry today, holding the keys to global GPU compute, arguably the most valuable and most disruptive asset in history.

Theta Blockchain

Theta blockchain is an EVM compatible multi-blockchain network which supports Turing complete smart contracts. This EVM support enables a wide range of interesting Web3 applications to be built on the Theta Network. Examples include non-fungible tokens (NFT), decentralized exchanges (DEX/DeFi), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO), which could become indispensable building blocks of the next generation AI, media and entertainment platforms. Theta’s enterprise validator and governance council is led by Google, Samsung, Sony, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Binance, Blockchain Ventures, DHVC, gumi and other global leaders. Theta has partnered with leading entertainment brands including Lionsgate, MGM, Katy Perry, American Idol, The Price is Right, Taste of Home, and more. Popular platforms utilizing Theta’s Web3 infrastructure include MetaCannes Film3 Festival, FuseTV, CONtv Anime, WPT, PetCollective, FailArmy, and other OTT streaming services. Strategic corporate investors include Samsung NEXT, Sony Innovation Fund, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), CAA and Silicon Valley VCs including DCM and Sierra Ventures.

What Theta Network is NOT

Theta Network is NOT a decentralized Youtube or a decentralized Twitch. Rather, Theta is the underlying blockchain and decentralized cloud infrastructure for AI, media and entertainment.

Theta Edge Network

In addition to the Validator and Guardian Nodes, the Theta community members also host the Theta Edge Nodes, which form the Theta Edge Network, a fully decentralized network for AI edge computing, data storage, and delivery. As of February 2024, this edge network has grown over 10,000 nodes, covering all the corners of the world.

Theta Edge Compute for AI Tasks

The Edge Node turns your computer into an edge computing node which can execute various types of jobs including AI/deep learning model training and inference, as well as video transcoding and relaying. By running the edge node, you can contribute unused computational and bandwidth resources and earn token rewards.

With the integration of the FedML client and Lavita client, Theta Edge Node now supports deep learning AI tasks for media entertainment and medical platforms. To learn more, please checkout here and here. The applications of this technology are enormous for any AI-powered platform, beginning with the Theta community. For example, any media company can use the power of decentralized AI to better serve their users the videos they want, increasing watch times and user engagement. The applications extend well beyond video recommendation. Examples include listing news stories that are more relevant to you, or a streaming platform recommending the movies which may be most helpful and relevant to you - saving you from a painful hour of scrolling through & viewing hundreds of options. New Generative AI may also support the video experience with automated summaries or generative video content to help suggest gaming strategy.

Theta Video API

Decentralized video-on-demand: In November 2021, Theta announced the Theta Video API, a new product powered by the Theta Edge Network for developers. It allows the users to add decentralized video to any website or application without any central servers, content delivery or video hosting software. The ease of use means now anyone will be able to roll out decentralized video to handle delivery, and playback of their videos. Users that watch will then be able to relay video over the Theta Network on a peer-to-peer basis, fully leveraging Theta’s decentralized infrastructure. This isn’t simply embedding an existing video stream — any user can use Theta Video API to upload any video to their website with just a few clicks in a permissionless process.

NFT-based Digital Rights Management (DRM): Theta Labs has received patent application approval for USPTO Application №17/218,245, a technology developed for implementing decentralized digital rights management (DRM) via NFTs in a decentralized network. This technology has massive applications for managing rights across a number of domains including, for example, live performances, concerts, and other ticketed events that require authentication, which can now be managed via an NFT that provides true digital ownership by the user which cannot be taken from them. Theta released an implementation of this patented DRM technology in late 2022 and featured interoperability with existing ingest software including Wowza and FFMPEG, and popular HLS live streaming standard. It can easily be integrated by platform partners and independent streamers.

Theta EdgeStore

Decentralized data storage: Theta released the Alpha Preview version of the Theta EdgeStore software in February 2022. Theta EdgeStore is aiming to be an append-only, content-addressing, decentralized key/value storage network for the permanent web. It also acts as a decentralized content delivery network (dCDN) for any type of files. In subsequent releases, EdgeStore is expected to be shipped along with the Edge Node software and becomes an integral part of the Theta Edge Network.

Theta Blockchain

Unique Consensus Mechanism, Fast and Green

The Theta Blockchain is a purposely-built blockchain designed from the ground up targeting the media and entertainment industry. Theta’s unique multi-level BFT consensus design combines a committee of 20–30 Enterprise Validator Nodes with a second layer of 1000s of community-run Guardian Nodes. Validator Nodes propose and finalize new blocks in the chain, while Guardian Nodes seal blocks and act as a check on malicious or otherwise non-functional Validator Nodes. While the validators alone already provide security on par with most other POS chains (e.g. BSC, Solana, Polygon, etc), the guardians in the thousands offer another layer of security guarantee. A similar strategy is adopted by the Gasper consensus protocol governing the ETH2.0 beacon chain. As of February 2024, Enterprise Validator Nodes on Theta are run by Google, Blockchain Ventures, Samsung, Sony Europe, Binance, gumi Cryptos, Creative Artists Agency, and Theta Labs, with more major enterprises in the process of joining. After the Theta 2.0 launch in May 2020, Guardian Node counts quickly ramped up. Currently, there are nearly 3,000 Guardian nodes run by the Theta community members. With this uniquely designed consensus mechanism, the Theta Blockchain is highly decentralized, while being able to process 1,000 transactions per second, with virtually zero carbon footprint.

Smart Contract Support and EVM Compatibility

The Theta blockchain mainnet provides full support for Turing-complete smart contracts. Smart contracts open up a whole new set of user experiences and new attribution models for DApps built on the Theta network. For example, leveraging smart contracts on the Theta network could enable fully digitized item ownership, innovative payment-consumption models, transparent royalty distributions, trustless crowdfunding mechanisms, and much more. This provides an additional layer of social and economic interactivity that supplements the core functionality of video and data delivery, and significantly increases the engagement and retention of platform users.

The Theta Virtual Machine is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM Constantinople fork plus a couple key Istanbul features, including the chainid opcode, and alt_bn128 gas cost reduction). Thus, porting over existing Ethereum-based contracts is simple and thousands of smart contract developers can easily jump to building on Theta.

Theta's July 2021 v3.1.0 release, along with the Theta/Ethereum RPC adaptor project, provides support for the Ethereum RPC API similar to Binance Smart Chain and Polygon. The Theta/Ethereum RPC adapter software translates the Theta RPC endpoints into the Ethereum RPC APIs. With it, Theta now supports the entire Etherum DApp dev stack including Metamask, Hardhat, Remix, Ethers.js, Web3.js, and Truffle Suite. Ethereum DApps that are ported over to Theta can use the same API calls to interact with Theta blockchain. This means Ethereum DApps can be deployed to Theta with no or minor modifications and tap into the growing Theta user and capital base.

Theta Metachain

In April 2022, Theta Labs announced the Theta Metachain concept. Targeted to be launched on Dec 1, 2022, the Theta Metachain is an interconnected network of blockchains, a “chain of chains”. The goal is to allow permissionless horizontal scaling of the Theta blockchain network in order to achieve potentially unlimited transactional throughput, and 1-2 seconds, or even subsecond block finalization time.

The Theta Metachain consists of one “main chain” and an unlimited number of “subchains”. Just as “meta-” as a prefix refers to something that transcends or is more comprehensive than the subject, ex. metaphysics describing what exists beyond physics, Theta Metachain refers to an overarching “main chain” above many purpose-specific “subchains”. The “main chain” in this case refers to the existing Theta mainnet. Theta will offer an easy-to-use SDK that developers can quickly use to launch a subchain and plug it into the main chain. Since each subchain can execute transactions independently, this provides a viable path to infinitely scale the processing capacity of the Metachain. The subchain SDK will implement a built-in interchain messaging channel which connects the subchains and the main chain, and thus allows crypto assets like TNT20/721 tokens to flow freely across the chains. The process of creating a subchain is permissionless, meaning that anyone can register and launch a subchain. No approval from Theta Labs is required.

Initially implemented as a multi-chain solution, the Theta Metachain can be extended into a zk-rollup by adding a few gadgets. Such an extension can achieve a higher level of security guarantees. To learn more about Theta Metachain, please check out the Theta Mainnet 4.0 whitepaper, and the Metachain Developer Guide.

Dual Token Design

Theta Network features a dual token design. The Theta Token (THETA) is the governance token of the Theta protocol. THETA is used to stake as a Validator or Guardian node, contributing to block production and the protocol governance of the Theta Network. By staking and running a node, users will earn a proportional amount of the new TFUEL generated. The supply of THETA is fixed at 1 billion and will never increase. Theta Fuel (TFUEL) is the operational token of the Theta protocol. TFUEL is used for on-chain operations like payments to Edge Nodes for AI computation, video encoding/transcoding, 3D rendering and for deploying and interacting with smart contracts. You can think of Theta Fuel as the “gas token” of the protocol. There were 5 billion TFUEL at genesis of Theta blockchain, and the supply increases annually at a fixed percentage set at the protocol level. In December 2020, Theta Labs announced Theta 3.0, which introduces a new crypto-economics design for TFUEL, in particular, the concept of TFUEL staking to Elite edge nodes. This will greatly expand the capacity and use cases of the network and maximize the utility value of TFUEL.

Deep Dive

For a deeper dive into the Theta technology stack, please read our whitepapers and research papers provided in the next section. If you want to start developing on Theta, please checkout our guides on smart contract and DApp development, EdgeCloud AI Services, and EdgeCloud Video Services.