When will the TPS race end? Could there be a new challenger, Penta?

Which blockchain platform will be the first to reach 1 Million TPS? Ethereum? EOS? Or could it be a new challenger, Penta?

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, recently attended the June 3rd Ethereum Technology Conference in Beijing, China. He shared the latest news regarding developments in Casper and Ethereum’s sharding technology. It was a strategic decision to host the Ethereum conference at this moment, as EOS is in the process of deploying its mainnet (as of this writing the EOS mainnet has not yet deployed).

One of the main issues facing both platforms and other competitors is the question of scalability, which is measured in transactions per second (tps). In order for blockchain technology to have value in the real world economy, it will have to be capable of processing large numbers of transactions efficiently and securely. Some consider this challenge the holy grail of blockchain technology development. So which platform will be the first to achieve 1 million tps in scalability? We look at three of the main contenders.

  1. Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin announced in Beijing that Ethereum will reach up to 1 million tps, thus allowing the Ethereum blockchain to support a large number of applications. Ethereum’s scaling solution is composed of a sharding and a Plasma mechanism (side chains). To enable these solutions, the Ethereum community first needs to switch from a POW consensus mechanism to POS. To learn more about Ethereum’s sharding proposal click on the following link:

https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/Sharding-FAQ

But with such a large and diverse ecosystem, the big question for Ethereum is not only when it will be able to make the switch to POS, but if it will happen at all. Ethereum miners have already invested a lot of money in ASIC chip hardware to participate in Ethereum’s POW consensus process. If Ethereum is successful in switching over to Casper (its POS solution), it will require a fork of the Ethereum blockchain. When the fork is proposed, those with a vested interest in seeing Ethereum’s POW continue (ie. miners) may be less inclined to support the fork, resulting in a potential hard fork scenario which would divide the ecosystem. So whether or not Etheruem is the first horse to get to 1 million tps depends to some extent on its ability to implement a successful fork to launch Casper.

  1. EOS

EOS’s delegated proof of stake consensus (DPoS) enables EOS to produce blocks in a shorter time-frame than Bitcoin and Ethereum. EOS’s mainnet has a target of generating blocks every 500ms, and claims the potential to scale up to millions of transactions per second. In fact, EOS previously made public statements to the effect that once launched, its mainnet would be able to reach 1 million tps. The community might need to wait and see how EOS block producers are going to handle such high frequency processing requests.

EOS is designed to achieve scalability by centralizing the consensus process, relying on only 21 block producers to improve performance. Proponents of decentralization have raised concerns about this approach, while others believe centralization in blockchain may be the key to solving the scalability problem. Regardless of where you fall on this debate, there is no question that EOS has completed the world’s most successful ICO.

On the technology side, however, the blockchain world is anxiously awaiting deployment of EOS’s mainnet, which could come any day. EOS does not use sharding technology to increase tps, so it relies principally on the efficacy of its DPoS consensus mechanism to solve scalability. Without sharding technology, throughput on the EOS blockchain may be limited by technical realities. Furthermore, with such a small number of nodes presiding over the DPoS consensus process, there are questions about security that EOS has yet to address.

Are we going to see a technical limit to EOS’s centralized approach to tps? Stay tuned for the mainnet… 

  1. Penta

Penta may be the dark horse of the tps race, and enters the racetrack with innovative concepts in sharding and consensus. Unlike Ethereum’s sharding mechanism, which embraces sharding for both transaction and storage, Penta’s solution concentrates on transaction sharding. The idea is to increase throughput with sharding, but without diluting the strength of Penta ‘s consensus mechanism. Penta has a unique consensus mechanism, called Dynamic Stake Consensus (DSC), which seeks to achieve scalability while preserving decentralization. DSC employs a randomization algorithm (RSA), which randomly selects nodes into small consensus groups that participate in the final consensus. Penta’s development team believes DSC is the ticket to high performance throughput that maintains decentralization.

Penta Sharding Graph (PSG) Sharding Network

Added to that, Penta is developing a next-generation sharding solution called PSG. The goal is to strengthen the stability and security of the Penta network while at the same time increasing Penta’s tps. To reduce the number of cross-sharding transactions, PSG proposes to generate shards only for a limited number of digital addresses on the network. Penta will apply dynamic modulation to control the quantity of shards, generating and deactivating shards as needed to reinforce overall network stability. As with the mainnet, each shard will undergo transaction validation through DSC consensus.

Penta claims it can achieve high scalability while maintaining decentralization and a lower barrier entry than its competitors. Is Penta the dark horse of the tps race?

What are the different types of sharding?

Let’s summarize the main key features:

Shard mechanism Consensus Smart contract Innovation Cross-shard

transaction

Ethereum Casper+ Shards Casper yes Casper POS, Validator yes
Zilliqa Transaction shards + Network PBFT Not available Innovative POW mechanism, Scilla language for security Not available
Penta PSG DSC yes DSC consensus, Sync point technology, RSA algorithm yes

 

Many in the blockchain tech community acknowledge that sharding technology is a promising solution to the scalability issue. Sharding offers the possibility of increasing throughput while maintaining decentralization in a blockchain platform. Several projects, such as Ethereum, Zilliqa and Penta, are exploring ways to implement sharding solutions on their networks, as displayed in the chart above.

Conclusion

Scalability is one of the most important challenges facing the blockchain community. There is a sentiment shared by many in the industry, that whichever platform achieves high scalability first will emerge as the preeminent blockchain platform. And there are many horses in the race. This article has attempted to highlight some of the industry’s brightest prospects. May the best steed win!

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