So this question has been bugging for me for a while and I can't seem to find the answer to it.


I have been a web developer for many years.

When I access a website, any frontend code is run in my browser, using the computing power on my computer. Any backend code is run on a different server. Any data is stored in someone else's centralised database. Some data is stored in cookies or local storage in my browser.

When I run a video game on my computer, the program is fully executed on my laptop (with the exception of some data probably being pulled from a database, e.g. if I use Steam).

Alternatively, platforms such as 'gaming as a service' would move most processing power onto a server.


Ethereum is described as a 'World Computer' but how does this relate to traditional architectures:

Is the blockchain element like for example a Wordpress database, with smart contracts being like my server side code? If this is the case, is that code only executed when I make a call to it (like with Lambda functions on AWS)?

Is Ethereum therefore just a distributed serverless architecture?

If a platform was to be built like 'gaming as a service', I'm guessing that I would be drawing processing power from millions of computers in the network? (I'm also assuming that this is part of the current debate about scaling).

In 10 years, if Ethereum is where we hope it will be, would it theoretically be able to support much more processor intensive use cases such as gaming as a service, or is that never the best use case for it?


3 Answers 3


The striking thing about Ethereum/blockchain is persistent logic and storage by consensus. If you think of it as a replacement for any of the technologies you mentioned, it will never make sense.

It's about establishing shared sets of facts without reliance on traditional sources of trust. You use it to do things that are impossible by any other known technique.

This might help. I came across it today. http://ethdevs.com/the-what-and-why-of-ethereum/

Hope it helps.

  • I like this: "The term ‘smart contracts’ is a little misleading – they’re not really contracts, and they’re definitely not smart. They are simply automated rules that execute when triggered by an input. In fact, they are more like vending machines". In fact, I tried to buy something from a vending machine today and it was broken (not a problem for smart contracts). So in a sense they are a bit like lambda functions in that they wait to receive an input before being executed.. Or maybe like a lambda function and database record combined? (Didn't realise a smart contract is like an account too)
    – timhc22
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 14:37
  • Or would it be better to just describe ethereum as like a database of value. I think Cryptokitties is a good example, is ethereum simply managing the who owns what part of this system, or is the code for interacting with this value layer (ie code providing the UI and visuals) all living on the ethereum network too?
    – timhc22
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 14:43
  • I think this answers the question I was trying to ask blockchainhub.net/decentralized-applications-dapps; I think I should really have been asking 'How do dApps work': "dApps are similar to a conventional web application. The front end uses the exact same technology to render the page. The one critical difference is that instead of an API connecting to a Database, you have a Smart Contract connecting to a blockchain. dApp enabled website: Front End → Smart Contract → Blockchain"
    – timhc22
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 14:50

The major innovation is that the state is signed by a majority consensus. This was originally by one-cpu-one-vote, then one-coin-one-vote has been experimented with, and one-person-one-vote is also trivial to use. Comparing this to traditional majority consensus over a state, a nation-state democracy, the major difference is that the agreement in Nakamoto consensus is on a mathematical proof, whereas the agreement in a nation-state democracy is for a government, political party, president or equivalent, a human being. The reason to agree on a mathematical proof instead of a person is because computers are able to do that, and benefit from that.


Late to the party, when you deploy a smart contract, it runs on all validators redundantly, which is why it's so expensive.

In a way, EVM is like a backend, except it's extremely inefficient. I think the ethereum.org website marks it as 1,000,000 more expensive to run code on the EVM than on a regular server, which is why it should be tight and optimal.

The throughput of the network is limited, however there is work to scale it.

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