With an increased number of blockchain users, there is a need for the blockchain to be scalable. Here is a little history into Bitcoin. A few years ago (2008 precisely), an anonymous individual or group of persons named Satoshi Nakomoto released a whitepaper on Bitcoin. The following. Bitcoin was created and over the years has become one of the biggest currencies of our times. As of today, Bitcoin is worth over $11000. However, Bitcoin is labeled as the biggest bubble of this age built on the genesis technology of our times. Many people are gradually becoming interested in blockchain because it has many use cases and the potential to improve processes in different industries. Digital currencies are just a part of the blockchain and not the full picture.
One of the features that distinguish the blockchain from traditional databases is transparency which establishes the integrity of the blockchain. Anyone can verify any transaction on the blockchain. The blockchain advantage is decentralization — it is not controlled by a single person. Therefore, there is no single point of failure. The network is between decentralized nodes and not a central authority. Let’s look at the blockchain as a link list with a hash pointer and a genesis block. This genesis block connects to the next block with pieces of data. Each of the blocks on the link list recognizes the next block with data and the hash pointer confirms that the data in the succeeding blocks are not corrupt.
The blockchain validates transactions. Validating transactions on a decentralized platform is more complex and this brings in consensus mechanisms. Consensus simply means to reach an agreement about value within the nodes on the network.
Blockchain versus the mainstream
In the case of bitcoin, it involves getting all the nodes to solve complex computation mathematics. This type of consensus is termed proof of work consensus mechanism (or mining). when a miner successfully solves the puzzle, he can write to the blockchain. Bitcoin is simply an example of how the proof of work consensus mechanism works. All systems need a kind of consensus mechanism to resolve conflicts.
Two factors contribute to the timing needed to write on the blockchain; the block size and the block interval. A block contains several transactions. The size of this block is capped at 1mb. The inter-block interval is set to about 10 minutes which is dependent on how fast the miners can solve the puzzle. This inter-block interval enables the block to distribute its arrival on the blockchain before a new block arrives to be authenticated. Due to the block size and the inter-block interval, confirmation of transactions is capped at about 7 transactions per second. Also, blocks become permanent and irreversible when a new block is added to the blockchain.
Summarily, this is very slow compared to the mainstream payment systems like Mastercard and Visa which can process over 20,000 transactions per second with a latency of a few seconds. The best that Bitcoin can do is 24 transactions per second and latency of about 12 seconds.
Cartesi as a solution to this scalability issue
In typical scalable technology, more nodes should mean more verified transactions. However, with the blockchain, the reverse is the case because of the consensus needed to confirm a transaction. Sharding of data is used by traditional systems to achieve scalability. Sharding means splitting data into multiple groups within the network and these small committees become in charge of managing transactions. This reduces the pressure on each node to handle every transaction.
Improving scalability in the blockchain is an area open to research and Cartesi proffers solution to this major challenge of the blockchain. With Cartesi it is possible to run intensive computation off-chain while retaining the security of the blockchain. The core of Cartesi will provide components that will specify and verify computations 0ff-chain. One of the challenges Dapp developers encounter is the usability of these applications in real-life scenarios. Applications are almost not scalable because of the rigid and inconvenient environment of the blockchain. Cartesi will resolve the data storage challenge by keeping on-chain Merkle tree hashes of off-chain data.
What do you think about “sharding” as a way of scaling the Blockchain? The blockchain is here to stay but it still has a long way to go from where we are right now to outshine the traditional databases
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