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Understanding IPFS and Filecoin: Key Differences and How to Build Infrastructure for Them

August 1, 2022

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) and Filecoin are two separate protocols that are complementary in nature. Both platforms were developed by Protocol Labs, and each may play a role in the new Web3. Each protocol centers on a peer-to-peer network and both present intriguing possibilities for use cases such as crypto mining, blockchain developments, NFT ownership, and many more.

But before you can enjoy the advantages of IPFS and Filecoin, it’s imperative to understand how they work, their differences, and how to build a hardware infrastructure to support them.

Content-Addressed Storage with IPFS

The InterPlanetary File System is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that uses content-addressed storage, a method for storing content where each data file is assigned a unique cryptographic hash that acts as a fingerprint for the file. This unique content identifier is known as a CID.

All data sources in IPFS are accessed based on their unique CIDs, rather than on their location on specific devices. Content within the IPFS protocol is not stored in a single location but in several locations in a shared network using a distributed hash table.

Users request content based on the data source’s CID, and it is then delivered through the most efficient means possible within the shared network. In this way, IPFS creates a very efficient means of accessing content.

And because each CID is unique and immutable, IPFS increases security, decreases the amount of storage space needed because it eliminates duplication, and makes authentication much easier.

IPFS Implementation Advantages

An IPFS implementation can provide many benefits for your organization. From blockchain development projects and crypto mining, to media and content delivery workloads, to NFT storage, IPFS use cases are growing daily.
  • Improves data resilience, security, integrity, and performance
  • Enables clustered persistence for data security and safety
  • Saves bandwidth by retrieving data from multiple peers at once, saving up to 60% bandwidth for video, for instance
  • Ideal for large, distributed datasets with low-latency and decentralized data locality between nodes
  • Content addressing structure lets you store large files separately and use permanent links where needed
  • Peer-to-peer nature of IPFS means users can access data independent of their connectivity or latency issues

What is Filecoin vs IPFS

Filecoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer storage network. Filecoin uses its own native cryptocurrency and digital payment system to ensure files are stored reliably over time.

Users of the Filecoin protocol pay to store their files on storage providers’ systems. A storage provider can be anyone who wants to store files on their computers and are willing to prove they have correctly stored the files over time. Filecoin uses a blockchain and its own native cryptocurrency to incentivize storage providers.

While Filecoin and IPFS are complementary protocols, they are separate and be implemented independently of one another. IPFS allows peers to transfer data files between each other, and Filecoin is provides a system of persistent data storage.

Advantages of Filecoin

Filecoin offers several advantages for both users and storage providers. It allows users to store their files at competitive prices that are not dictated by any one corporate entity. Users select the storage provider whose offer is best suited for their needs and can then verify their files are being stored correctly at any time by seeing proof on Filecoin’s blockchain.

Filecoin’s blockchain in turn rewards storage providers for providing storage space for users. Once a storage provider implements the Filecoin protocol, they can provide services to any Filecoin users. There is no need to design their own storage API. By removing these barriers, Filecoin enables a simpler, decentralized system of independent storage providers and users who can create their own peer-to-peer network.

Data Storage Considerations for IPFS and Filecoin

An IPFS implementation and/or Filecoin deployment will generally require more focus on storage speed and density. Because IPFS and Filecoin transfer data across peer-to-peer networks to provide that data at high speed (instead of relying on a single device), HDD storage can provide adequate read/write speeds to make up an efficient high-volume storage layer for archival or ‘cold’ storage.

Two JBODs that provide efficient, scalable storage solutions for IPFS and Filecoin deployments are:

Seagate Exos E 4U106

  • Stores up to 1.9PB of data
  • Holds up to 106 high-capacity hard drives in a single enclosure
  • Overall maximum bandwidth of 36GB/s
  • Management Interface: 2 x 1GbE
  • Up to 4 total EBOD chassis
  • Host I/O Interface (defined by controller): Four x4 12Gb/s mini-SAS HD connectors (SFF-8644) per I/O module

Seagate Exos E 5U84

  • Stores up to 1.1PB of data
  • Provides up to 12Gb/s speed
  • Maximum throughput of 14.4GB/s in a single I/O module or 28.8GB/s in a dual controller configuration
  • Expansion capability up to 336 hard drives or solid state drives
  • Management Interface: 2 × 1GbE ports
  • Up to 4 total EBOD chassis
  • Host I/O Interface (defined by controller): Three ×4 12Gb/s mini-SAS HD connectors (SFF-8644) per I/O module

Ideal Cluster for IPFS and Filecoin

The Silicon Mechanics Oberon Decentralized Data Storage Cluster is the ideal backbone for your IPFS and Filecoin deployments. It’s custom-designed to handle IPFS and Filecoin workloads, balancing all aspects of cluster design, including CPU and GPU compute, memory, networking bandwidth, and storage device performance.

The Oberon cluster is the result of hours of engineering, testing, and optimization. It can save you time and focus because its design is customized to meet your specific IPFS and Filecoin workload needs.


About Silicon Mechanics

Silicon Mechanics, Inc. is one of the world’s largest private providers of high-performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI), and enterprise storage solutions. Since 2001, Silicon Mechanics’ clients have relied on its custom-tailored open-source systems and professional services expertise to overcome the world’s most complex computing challenges. With thousands of clients across the aerospace and defense, education/research, financial services, government, life sciences/healthcare, and oil and gas sectors, Silicon Mechanics solutions always come with “Expert Included” SM.

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