Zilliqa is the very first high-throughput blockchain platform of a public nature that was designed to be able to scale up to thousands of transactions every second. The unique protocol of Zilliqa is based on the theory of sharding, increasing the transaction rate the more that the network grows. Additionally, this platform is geared toward allowing for secure and data-driven dApps, while meeting the scaling requirements for financial algorithms and machine learning.
Who Is Behind Zilliqa?
The Zilliqa platform has already been going on for two years, during which time the team has made significant advances. The team is made up of a diverse group with expertise in fields like networking and distributed systems, high-quality engineering, cybersecurity, and crypto. While nearly all the team has already worked together for two years, some team members have been working together for over six.
Why Is This Scalability a Big Deal?
While there are numerous public blockchain platforms available, Zilliqa’s scalability makes it a very important contribution. This comes largely from its ability to process more transactions each section when more mining nodes get added to the network. While this seems reasonable to those unfamiliar with blockchain tech, it is very technically challenging and has never been possible. That difficulty makes Zilliqa’s unique consensus protocol that solves this problem even more impressive.
Because of the scalability, Zilliqa can support dApps that require higher transaction rates than those currently available, expanding the options for developers. The team behind Zilliqa can see the platform being used to run dApps like high-volume parallel auctions, payment networks, and transparent digital advertising supply chains.
How Does Zilliqa Benefit Miners and dApps?
The main benefit for dApps is Zilliqa’s ability to scale up to thousands of transactions each second in throughput. In addition to this, dApp users will get quantifiable security along varying budgets, allowing for secure computation. The smart contracts are in the dataflow style and secure, and leveraging Proof-of-Work for just establishing identity improves the energy utilization. Miners will appreciate the more stable payout and its lower variance, along with the low cost to join via compatibility with Ethash.
What Consensus Protocol Does Zilliqa Use?
One of the most common consensus protocols is PoW, but as mentioned earlier, Zilliqa just uses this to establish a mining identity. Instead of every miner on each block performing PoW, it is only performed at larger intervals, reducing the energy footprint. The team chose to keep using PoW in this way due to the reliable research and field testing done on it.
The protocol that Zilliqa uses instead is called Elliptic Curve Based Schnorr Signature Algorithm (known as EC-Schnorr) with signature aggregation or multi-signing. It has an overarching layer with a directory committee, as well as refined PBFT protocol for each shard. This allows for the signature size to stay small even in cases when many miners sign the same block. Additionally, this method of consensus reduces the complexity of communication.
To make more sense of the Zilliqa consensus protocol, refresh your memory on sharding. This concept has been in distributed database for ages, but not on open and permissionless blockchains at scale, something that Zilliqa corrects. With sharding, the large network made up of the machines that process transactions is automatically split into “shards,” or parallel sub-committees. Each of these shards will process its given micro-block, and then all micro-blocks merge to create the final one.
Are There Other Proposals for Scalability in the Works?
The team at Zilliqa chose to use sharding to help with scalability, but there are actually numerous other proposals, as well. These include things like re-parameterizing block sizes or moving transactions off-chain. Zilliqa selected its method because the proposal is orthogonal, targeting the underlying blockchain scalability directly. The team recognizes that without the core blockchain consensus protocol supporting the high transaction rates on the chain, something like reengineering data structures or moving the transactions off-chain will not be effective.
Zilliqa also points out that while PoS is an alternative to PoW protocols, there are issues related to transaction finality. Zilliqa resolves this with the pBFT-style consensus.
How Does Zilliqa Mining Work?
The Zilliqa mining process is not based directly on PoW. All nodes begin with PoW at the beginning of their DS epoch. After this, the nodes participate in pBFT consensus protocols. The consensus protocol requires a majority vote for the block to be valid and committed onto the blockchain. Following a node’s PoW, it can vote for a specific quantity of blocks, with each committed block delivering a reward. This method contrasts with Bitcoin mining, where nodes must do PoW for each new block. That lower frequency of PoW in Zilliqa leads to a smaller energy footprint.
How Does Zilliqa Improve Upon Smart Contracts?
As you explore the smart contracts used in Zilliqa, you will notice that it is working to develop a new language for them. The team wants to work toward language that can prove safety properties surrounding a contract. They feel that by doing so, they can avoid common problems, such as the Parity and DAO Hacks, that are unavoidable without formal proofs about contracts.
Instead of a Turing complete language, they will base the computational model on the communication I/O automata, along with CPS-style value returns, with front-end language similar to Solidity. The decision to skip Turing complete languages comes from the fact that not all apps require it and these languages are prone to bugs because they can be challenging to reason about. Non-Turing-complete languages, by contrast, are simple enough to make them easy to use formal verification that method-based.
How to Buy Zilliqa ZIL
Zilliqa only recently completed their ICO and went live on some exchanges, at the moment you can purchase Zilliqa on the following sites :
Despite the large number of public blockchain platforms available, Zilliqa manages to take an innovative approach and offer something new to those interested in developing decentralized apps. The unique protocol and use of sharding seem to make sense, but they will have to be tested by dApps that require the high transaction rates touted by the platform.