Zilliqa, a Blockchain platform developed by National University of Singapore researchers, recently reached a breakthrough for scalability on its platform by increasing the throughput threshold to 2,488 transactions per second on an internal testnet thanks to their “sharding” technology.
What is often seen as a thorn in the side of Blockchain technology is the issue of how to properly scale the transaction load to meet market-ready standards. Currently both the Ethereum and Bitcoin are vastly inferior at handling large scale transaction loads; on average both Blockchains process between 7-10 TX/sec.
In a live interview with “The Rundown” on CNBC International in Singapore, Dr. Xinshu Dong, CEO of Zilliqa, explained that the concept of sharding has the potential to solve the scalability problem with existing Blockchains using their technology of sharding. He also stated that goal of Zilliqa would be to “at least hit the average throughput of VISA and MasterCard,” which is around 8,000 TX/s.
The breakthrough was made thanks to the Ziliqa team’s coordinated effort that leveraged all available Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 instances in Singapore which met required criteria. A total of 3,600 AWS EC2 instances operated as single nodes and performed tests on the infrastructure of the Blockchain system, providing verifiable results. Testing rounds from a month prior yielded a result of 1,400 TX/s on 2,800 similarly deployed AWS EC2 nodes.
The Ziliqa team estimates that if it had as many nodes as are active in Ethereum, the platform would be able to manage over 15,000 TX/s, nearly twice as many as the VISA network’s average throughput, the largest global electronic payment system in the world.
Dr. Dong leads a the team of researchers and engineers at Zilliqa who are developing the Ziliqa Blockchain platform and achieved the breakthrough. This marks the first time such a “sharding” protocol, introduced in 2015 by Prof. Prateek Saxena’s team, has met with a scalable deployment on a permission-less system. The sharding technique partitions transaction block verification to machines in a network by running parallel subcommittees (shards) that process and then collate the verified data into a final block.
A particular challenge with sharding comes with accounting for bias. Meeting the challenge of secure sharding in an unbiased manner, the Ziliqa team has developed a mechanism that dynamically elects and manages updates to special committees of machines.
In addition Ziliqa is creating a smart contract language that, although non-Turing complete, is instead scalability driven. This language will be perfect for applications like automated auctions, digital advertising, or in shared economies. The language follows a dataflow-like programming style wherein it can be visualized as a directed graph. Nodes on the graph are represented by computations, whereas arcs represent input and output.
Ziliqa’s successful implementation of sharding protocols put it on par with other high frequency transaction projects set to be deployed to Blockchains, such as the Ethereum complementary Raiden Network, an off-chain payment processing platform compatible with ERC-20 tokens, or the Lightning Network, a bitcoin Blockchain-based instant payment system, and Plasma protocol, authored by developer Joseph Poon and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.
In December 2017 the Ziliqa team will release the source code for its platform and open a public testnet. The public and developed alike are invited to engage in testing the system’s functionality, robustness and join in the design of the next iteration of dApps that can be integrated with the platform.
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