China’s Ant Group announced that its proprietary AntChain enterprise blockchain now supports confidential computing, its FAIR offering, and it has also developed its own blockchain powered computer chip, the T1.
AntChain now integrates confidential computing solutions, including Multi Party Computation (MPC), enabling multiple companies to extract analysis across their data without sharing the source data. For example, it could be used to calculate industry averages.
In that instance, individual company data would be encrypted and sent to a ringfenced chipset where the calculations are made in an environment similar to a black box.
This ringfenced area is referred to as a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) because other software running on the machine can’t snoop. The T1 chip provides such as TEE.
“Data privacy protection is becoming an underlying requirement in the industry. AntChain believes that privacy-preserving computation (PPC) should be a native capability for blockchain networks,” said Yan Ying, technical director of AntChain. “The FAIR platform deeply integrates blockchain and PPC to further expand the capability of blockchain networks, allowing each node in a blockchain network to act as a node for privacy-preserving computing.”
Another enterprise blockchain firm R3 also launched a confidential computing solution Conclave. In that case, it uses Intel’s SGX chips.
Ant says FAIR replaces “PPC + blockchain” and tight integration between the two offers advantages. It claims that “leveraging hardware innovations and close integration of hardware and software, the FAIR framework is 100 times more efficient than traditional solutions.”
In addition to Multi Party Computation, Ant’s FAIR solution also supports federated learning.
In 2019, Visa outlined its confidential computing solution LucidiTEE. In contrast to MPC, which requires all parties to be online, LucidiTEE allows parties to be offline since policies are enforced by checking against the immutable ledger.
Elsewhere, Hyperledger Avalon is an implementation of Trusted Computing specifications published by the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance in 2019.
And 2020 saw the launch of another Linux Foundation project, the Confidential Computing Consortium, where Ant Group and R3 are members.
One of the higher-profile applications of AntChain outside of China is Trusple, its international trade finance application.