Zilliqa (ZIL) launched in January of 2018 without much fanfare. The token’s immediate arrival in the market cap top one-hundred was sudden, yet also somewhat subtle given the team’s focus on tech and consequent neglect of marketing.
Led by former University of Singapore senior research fellow, Xinshu Dong, Zilliqa advertises itself as a high throughput, fast, secure blockchain host for dApps and smart contracts. There’s nothing necessarily new in that, and 99% of coin websites feature the same language.
But with that said, Zilliqa does offer up a few features worthy of attention.
The first thing you’ll see on the Zilliqa website is a bar chart displaying their achievement of 2,828 blockchain transactions per second. Many blockchains have been stress-tested to such levels, but only for brief periods.
Zilliqa’s claims will ultimately be put to the test when they migrate from Ethereum to their own mainnet, scheduled for early 2019. Yet such high speeds might be possible if the underlying technology turns out to be as promising as its fanfare suggests.
Zilliqa’s shards differ slightly from the shards currently being researched by Ethereum. The ‘state sharding’ of Ethereum is seen as a way to reduce the storage weight of the network’s transactions.
Zilliqa’s ‘transaction sharding’, however, instead divides nodes up into smaller groups (shards), and then allows them all to run in parallel. So a thousand nodes on the network could conceivably be split up into ten shards of a hundred nodes, effectively giving ten times the transaction throughput.
Zilliqa uses the practical byzantine fault tolerance (pBFT) protocol in its consensus mechanism, while keeping Proof-of-Work (PoW)in place in a reduced role to protect the network from Sybil attacks.
The pBFT protocol works best in groups of small numbers, and operates on the assumption that one third of the actors in a given group will be corrupt. For this reason, pBFT requires the consensus of two thirds of the nodes in a group – in this case, one of Zilliqa’s shards.
On the face of it, pBFT appears to have some benefits over traditional Nakamoto-style consensus, specifically in the lack of block confirmations required to finalize transactions. The initial pBFT process in the shard authenticates transactions by the time they reach the block, meaning no confirmations are needed to finalize them.
Zilliqa does use Proof-of-Work to an extent, specifically to ward off Sybil attacks, and to confirm network identities after a given length of time. A gap of one hundred blocks has been quoted as the length of time between every PoW session, meaning the Zilliqa blockchain would benefit from PoW security but with reduced energy consumption.
But pBFT isn’t a sure thing just yet. Its combination with sharding can be effective only if shard groups are big enough to be secure (around 600 nodes), but small enough to make pBFT workable (around 50 in a group).
The Zilliqa team also has plans to explore adding private transactions in the future with the implementation of ZK-Snarks, and aims to open up cross-chain capabilities.
Zilliqa were announced as working partners of Japanese software and media firm Infoteria at the start of August, as announced here on the firm’s website (Japanese).
Meanwhile, in July the creators of the blockchain based Etheremon game announced they would be departing Ethereum to explore what Zilliqa’s blockchain had to offer. The move was in direct response to Ethereum network slowdowns of late, which have seen transaction fees spike to unmanageable levels.
Zilliqa reached its ATH in early May, climbing to a token price of $0.22 and a market cap of over $1.4 billion.
Since then it’s been as expected – ZIL tokens have sunk month on month towards a current price of $0.04 – an 81% drop in value in just under three months. Following the market dip off the back of the VanEck ETF delay, ZIL tokens fell to a price of $0.396 – a price not seen since early April, right before ZIL soared to the tune of 400%.
There’s no reason to expect a similar surge in the near future, but for now Zilliqa could be one to keep an eye on as we move forward; especially if scalability becomes as big a pressure point as is predicted.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.