IOTA: The hardware part

IOTA: The hardware part

Many people have invested in IOTA because it is a great software solution being adopted by big companies already due to its advantages in speed, scalability and feelessness.

However, many people do not know about the hardware aspect which will be the actual reason for IOTA to succeed. So I decided to summarize what we know so far and stumbled on some interesting aspects which I did not expect!

1. A long tech story short

IOTA is the software protocol which was developed as a result of the development of JINN, the working-title for a new kind of micro processor based on trinary calculation methods. Basically this means that this processor does not deal with the states of I or 0 (as do all the processors out on the market) but it can deal with the states +1, 0 and -1. For the tech-savy among us, here is a link that will help you to understand this in more detail and here is an introduction video on the idea behind it.

Picture of an alleged ternary processor (JINN?)

At the moment, every computer which wants to send a transaction on IOTA’s tangle must calculate and thus confirm two other transactions before (=Proof of Work).

With JINN, this can be done on any device without having a computer turned on! With this, every car, mobile phone, fridge or whatever device is enabled to send transactions over the tangle because it can now do the Proof of Work needed!

In a nutshell, it’s something between Intel’s CPU and NVidia’s GPU. (CfB, September 2014)

The more recent explanation can be viewed here:

The technology also affects quantum computing: click.

2. A long development story short

JINN was firstly announced in September 2014 on the NXT forum. What does NXT (another cryptocurrency) have to do with it?

Firstly, NXT was one of the first cryptocurrencies to open a decentralised Asset Exchange. On this exchange, you could (and can) buy assets of various types among which was also the JINN token (some months ago you could also buy IOTA tokens there from other persons). So NXT Asset Exchange was the place to get some money for financing the JINN idea. To be honest, I am not a 100% sure, but I suppose that the money earned from giving out these tokens was used for R&D of JINN and giving the people a share in the later sales of the JINN processors.

Secondly, NXT was invented by a developer called Sergey Ivancheglo aka Come-from-Beyond. He is today one of the key figures in the technical development and realisation of IOTA. It makes sense of course that he went on focussing on JINN/IOTA and has been an asset to the whole project ever since.

I tracked the development so that you can read it in short here:

CfB had a project running in 2012 called “Qubic”, the core of which was described here:

If you read the bottom part it sounds like a description of IOTA. Especially because CfB later described Qubic as

For those who don’t know what Qubic is, it’s something like Bitcoin but without a blockchain. (link) Jinn-powered Internet-of-Everything devices will be shipped with tech implementing another type of decentralized ledgers. The details are classified because this tech doesn’t have such disadvantages of blockchain tech as necessity to store state transitions and to transmit big volumes of data.(link)

In September 2014, the matter was closed for the time being:


However, right after the announcement of JINN, he posted this:


The roughly four years would be (kind of) over now. So you need JINN (the microprocessor) to produce qubics.

Jinn will provide technical base for Qubic in a way that requires almost nothing to do to get Qubic completed. IoT can be created on top of Jinn in a similar manner — just write a little code and you will get it. I stole architecture of Jinn from the nature, it mimics how macro- and microcosm functions. A side effect of this “piracy” is the ability to implement a lot of things much easier than it would be done on top of classical processors. (CfB, September 2014)

The first hardware “announcement” came in early 2015:

We are beginning the next stage — prototyping in hardware. This will require design of basic ternary elements with transistors. Then we are planning to manufacture them in Belarus. And then I’ll compose the circuit at home. In the end we should get a device that will do the work of a single Jinn core.(CfB, January 2015)

The next step was this:

We have also sent the first hardware components to the world leading experimental integrated circuit foundry for manufacturing
Now we have to wait another ~3 months until we can test the hardware components. This is a big deal as this is not theory or simulation, but the actual real hardware that we have developed! Extremely excited for the results of this testing. (July 2015)

Then finally in October 21, 2015, IOTA was revealed. By the way: If you are one of those impatient traders of IOTA please go and read that Bitcointalk thread starting late 2014 and see how long those people had to wait for “announcements” ;).

3. Who’s behind it?

So the bottom line seems to be this: there is an entirely new kind of microprocessor being developed for IOTA and CfB is a key figure in this regard. Of course, if IOTA is meant to become a base layer for all Internet of Things (IoT)-related transactions, there must be some big company behind JINN in order to produce that many processors (again, EVERY device would need such a processor then).

The obvious, yet unsatisfactory answer is: we do not have any clue since the whole JINN project has been in stealth mode since the very beginning due to NDA.

How many man-hours has been put? I spent years on that, Jinn is sprung from the very dream that made me to study a big bunch of programming languages and technologies.(CfB, September 2014)

With IOTA reaching a stage where it enters the big companies like BOSCH on a pre-production level, it is more than likely that also JINN has reached a corresponding level to put the pieces together which might also account for the rise in JINN tokens:

With BOSCH investing in IOTA, the rumor quickly arose that a new $1.1bn chip factory of Bosch could be the place where JINN chips will be manufactured — but, of course, this is pure speculation although the purpose of these chips would perfectly fit JINN/IOTA…

Bosch chip factory in Reutlingen, Germany

4. Conclusion

IOTA is awesome! Not only because it revolutionizes public ledgers, but also because of its impact on hardware: I really advise you to read that whole thread to see that the team was close to brink because of financing and still held through. Their actions have always been overt until today — both IOTA and JINN are great projects involving great tech involving a great team.

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