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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships  
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Dive Into Tendermint Consensus Protocol (I)

Dive Into Tendermint Consensus Protocol (I)
This article is written by the CoinEx Chain lab. CoinEx Chain is the world’s first public chain exclusively designed for DEX, and will also include a Smart Chain supporting smart contracts and a Privacy Chain protecting users’ privacy.
longcpp @ 20200618
This is Part 1 of the serialized articles aimed to explain the Tendermint consensus protocol in detail.
Part 1. Preliminary of the consensus protocol: security model and PBFT protocol
Part 2. Tendermint consensus protocol illustrated: two-phase voting protocol and the locking and unlocking mechanism
Part 3. Weighted round-robin proposer selection algorithm used in Tendermint project
Any consensus agreement that is ultimately reached is the General Agreement, that is, the majority opinion. The consensus protocol on which the blockchain system operates is no exception. As a distributed system, the blockchain system aims to maintain the validity of the system. Intuitively, the validity of the blockchain system has two meanings: firstly, there is no ambiguity, and secondly, it can process requests to update its status. The former corresponds to the safety requirements of distributed systems, while the latter to the requirements of liveness. The validity of distributed systems is mainly maintained by consensus protocols, considering the multiple nodes and network communication involved in such systems may be unstable, which has brought huge challenges to the design of consensus protocols.

The semi-synchronous network model and Byzantine fault tolerance

Researchers of distributed systems characterize these problems that may occur in nodes and network communications using node failure models and network models. The fail-stop failure in node failure models refers to the situation where the node itself stops running due to configuration errors or other reasons, thus unable to go on with the consensus protocol. This type of failure will not cause side effects on other parts of the distributed system except that the node itself stops running. However, for such distributed systems as the public blockchain, when designing a consensus protocol, we still need to consider the evildoing intended by nodes besides their failure. These incidents are all included in the Byzantine Failure model, which covers all unexpected situations that may occur on the node, for example, passive downtime failures and any deviation intended by the nodes from the consensus protocol. For a better explanation, downtime failures refer to nodes’ passive running halt, and the Byzantine failure to any arbitrary deviation of nodes from the consensus protocol.
Compared with the node failure model which can be roughly divided into the passive and active models, the modeling of network communication is more difficult. The network itself suffers problems of instability and communication delay. Moreover, since all network communication is ultimately completed by the node which may have a downtime failure or a Byzantine failure in itself, it is usually difficult to define whether such failure arises from the node or the network itself when a node does not receive another node's network message. Although the network communication may be affected by many factors, the researchers found that the network model can be classified by the communication delay. For example, the node may fail to send data packages due to the fail-stop failure, and as a result, the corresponding communication delay is unknown and can be any value. According to the concept of communication delay, the network communication model can be divided into the following three categories:
  • The synchronous network model: There is a fixed, known upper bound of delay $\Delta$ in network communication. Under this model, the maximum delay of network communication between two nodes in the network is $\Delta$. Even if there is a malicious node, the communication delay arising therefrom does not exceed $\Delta$.
  • The asynchronous network model: There is an unknown delay in network communication, with the upper bound of the delay known, but the message can still be successfully delivered in the end. Under this model, the network communication delay between two nodes in the network can be any possible value, that is, a malicious node, if any, can arbitrarily extend the communication delay.
  • The semi-synchronous network model: Assume that there is a Global Stabilization Time (GST), before which it is an asynchronous network model and after which, a synchronous network model. In other words, there is a fixed, known upper bound of delay in network communication $\Delta$. A malicious node can delay the GST arbitrarily, and there will be no notification when no GST occurs. Under this model, the delay in the delivery of the message at the time $T$ is $\Delta + max(T, GST)$.
The synchronous network model is the most ideal network environment. Every message sent through the network can be received within a predictable time, but this model cannot reflect the real network communication situation. As in a real network, network failures are inevitable from time to time, causing the failure in the assumption of the synchronous network model. Yet the asynchronous network model goes to the other extreme and cannot reflect the real network situation either. Moreover, according to the FLP (Fischer-Lynch-Paterson) theorem, under this model if there is one node fails, no consensus protocol will reach consensus in a limited time. In contrast, the semi-synchronous network model can better describe the real-world network communication situation: network communication is usually synchronous or may return to normal after a short time. Such an experience must be no stranger to everyone: the web page, which usually gets loaded quite fast, opens slowly every now and then, and you need to try before you know the network is back to normal since there is usually no notification. The peer-to-peer (P2P) network communication, which is widely used in blockchain projects, also makes it possible for a node to send and receive information from multiple network channels. It is unrealistic to keep blocking the network information transmission of a node for a long time. Therefore, all the discussion below is under the semi-synchronous network model.
The design and selection of consensus protocols for public chain networks that allow nodes to dynamically join and leave need to consider possible Byzantine failures. Therefore, the consensus protocol of a public chain network is designed to guarantee the security and liveness of the network under the semi-synchronous network model on the premise of possible Byzantine failure. Researchers of distributed systems point out that to ensure the security and liveness of the system, the consensus protocol itself needs to meet three requirements:
  • Validity: The value reached by honest nodes must be the value proposed by one of them
  • Agreement: All honest nodes must reach consensus on the same value
  • Termination: The honest nodes must eventually reach consensus on a certain value
Validity and agreement can guarantee the security of the distributed system, that is, the honest nodes will never reach a consensus on a random value, and once the consensus is reached, all honest nodes agree on this value. Termination guarantees the liveness of distributed systems. A distributed system unable to reach consensus is useless.

The CAP theorem and Byzantine Generals Problem

In a semi-synchronous network, is it possible to design a Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol that satisfies validity, agreement, and termination? How many Byzantine nodes can a system tolerance? The CAP theorem and Byzantine Generals Problem provide an answer for these two questions and have thus become the basic guidelines for the design of Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocols.
Lamport, Shostak, and Pease abstracted the design of the consensus mechanism in the distributed system in 1982 as the Byzantine Generals Problem, which refers to such a situation as described below: several generals each lead the army to fight in the war, and their troops are stationed in different places. The generals must formulate a unified action plan for the victory. However, since the camps are far away from each other, they can only communicate with each other through the communication soldiers, or, in other words, they cannot appear on the same occasion at the same time to reach a consensus. Unfortunately, among the generals, there is a traitor or two who intend to undermine the unified actions of the loyal generals by sending the wrong information, and the communication soldiers cannot send the message to the destination by themselves. It is assumed that each communication soldier can prove the information he has brought comes from a certain general, just as in the case of a real BFT consensus protocol, each node has its public and private keys to establish an encrypted communication channel for each other to ensure that its messages will not be tampered with in the network communication, and the message receiver can also verify the sender of the message based thereon. As already mentioned, any consensus agreement ultimately reached represents the consensus of the majority. In the process of generals communicating with each other for an offensive or retreat, a general also makes decisions based on the majority opinion from the information collected by himself.
According to the research of Lamport et al, if there are 1/3 or more traitors in the node, the generals cannot reach a unified decision. For example, in the following figure, assume there are 3 generals and only 1 traitor. In the figure on the left, suppose that General C is the traitor, and A and B are loyal. If A wants to launch an attack and informs B and C of such intention, yet the traitor C sends a message to B, suggesting what he has received from A is a retreat. In this case, B can't decide as he doesn't know who the traitor is, and the information received is insufficient for him to decide. If A is a traitor, he can send different messages to B and C. Then C faithfully reports to B the information he received. At this moment as B receives conflicting information, he cannot make any decisions. In both cases, even if B had received consistent information, it would be impossible for him to spot the traitor between A and C. Therefore, it is obvious that in both situations shown in the figure below, the honest General B cannot make a choice.
According to this conclusion, when there are $n$ generals with at most $f$ traitors (n≤3f), the generals cannot reach a consensus if $n \leq 3f$; and with $n > 3f$, a consensus can be reached. This conclusion also suggests that when the number of Byzantine failures $f$ exceeds 1/3 of the total number of nodes $n$ in the system $f \ge n/3$ , no consensus will be reached on any consensus protocol among all honest nodes. Only when $f < n/3$, such condition is likely to happen, without loss of generality, and for the subsequent discussion on the consensus protocol, $ n \ge 3f + 1$ by default.
The conclusion reached by Lamport et al. on the Byzantine Generals Problem draws a line between the possible and the impossible in the design of the Byzantine fault tolerance consensus protocol. Within the possible range, how will the consensus protocol be designed? Can both the security and liveness of distributed systems be fully guaranteed? Brewer provided the answer in his CAP theorem in 2000. It indicated that a distributed system requires the following three basic attributes, but any distributed system can only meet two of the three at the same time.
  1. Consistency: When any node responds to the request, it must either provide the latest status information or provide no status information
  2. Availability: Any node in the system must be able to continue reading and writing
  3. Partition Tolerance: The system can tolerate the loss of any number of messages between two nodes and still function normally

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A distributed system aims to provide consistent services. Therefore, the consistency attribute requires that the two nodes in the system cannot provide conflicting status information or expired information, which can ensure the security of the distributed system. The availability attribute is to ensure that the system can continuously update its status and guarantee the availability of distributed systems. The partition tolerance attribute is related to the network communication delay, and, under the semi-synchronous network model, it can be the status before GST when the network is in an asynchronous status with an unknown delay in the network communication. In this condition, communicating nodes may not receive information from each other, and the network is thus considered to be in a partitioned status. Partition tolerance requires the distributed system to function normally even in network partitions.
The proof of the CAP theorem can be demonstrated with the following diagram. The curve represents the network partition, and each network has four nodes, distinguished by the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. The distributed system stores color information, and all the status information stored by all nodes is blue at first.
  1. Partition tolerance and availability mean the loss of consistency: When node 1 receives a new request in the leftmost image, the status changes to red, the status transition information of node 1 is passed to node 3, and node 3 also updates the status information to red. However, since node 3 and node 4 did not receive the corresponding information due to the network partition, the status information is still blue. At this moment, if the status information is queried through node 2, the blue returned by node 2 is not the latest status of the system, thus losing consistency.
  2. Partition tolerance and consistency mean the loss of availability: In the middle figure, the initial status information of all nodes is blue. When node 1 and node 3 update the status information to red, node 2 and node 4 maintain the outdated information as blue due to network partition. Also when querying status information through node 2, you need to first ask other nodes to make sure you’re in the latest status before returning status information as node 2 needs to follow consistency, but because of the network partition, node 2 cannot receive any information from node 1 or node 3. Then node 2 cannot determine whether it is in the latest status, so it chooses not to return any information, thus depriving the system of availability.
  3. Consistency and availability mean the loss of the partition tolerance: In the right-most figure, the system does not have a network partition at first, and both status updates and queries can go smoothly. However, once a network partition occurs, it degenerates into one of the previous two conditions. It is thus proved that any distributed system cannot have consistency, availability, and partition tolerance all at the same time.

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The discovery of the CAP theorem seems to declare that the aforementioned goals of the consensus protocol is impossible. However, if you’re careful enough, you may find from the above that those are all extreme cases, such as network partitions that cause the failure of information transmission, which could be rare, especially in P2P network. In the second case, the system rarely returns the same information with node 2, and the general practice is to query other nodes and return the latest status as believed after a while, regardless of whether it has received the request information of other nodes. Therefore, although the CAP theorem points out that any distributed system cannot satisfy the three attributes at the same time, it is not a binary choice, as the designer of the consensus protocol can weigh up all the three attributes according to the needs of the distributed system. However, as the communication delay is always involved in the distributed system, one always needs to choose between availability and consistency while ensuring a certain degree of partition tolerance. Specifically, in the second case, it is about the value that node 2 returns: a probably outdated value or no value. Returning the possibly outdated value may violate consistency but guarantees availability; yet returning no value deprives the system of availability but guarantees its consistency. Tendermint consensus protocol to be introduced is consistent in this trade-off. In other words, it will lose availability in some cases.
The genius of Satoshi Nakamoto is that with constraints of the CAP theorem, he managed to reach a reliable Byzantine consensus in a distributed network by combining PoW mechanism, Satoshi Nakamoto consensus, and economic incentives with appropriate parameter configuration. Whether Bitcoin's mechanism design solves the Byzantine Generals Problem has remained a dispute among academicians. Garay, Kiayias, and Leonardos analyzed the link between Bitcoin mechanism design and the Byzantine consensus in detail in their paper The Bitcoin Backbone Protocol: Analysis and Applications. In simple terms, the Satoshi Consensus is a probabilistic Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol that depends on such conditions as the network communication environment and the proportion of malicious nodes' hashrate. When the proportion of malicious nodes’ hashrate does not exceed 1/2 in a good network communication environment, the Satoshi Consensus can reliably solve the Byzantine consensus problem in a distributed environment. However, when the environment turns bad, even with the proportion within 1/2, the Satoshi Consensus may still fail to reach a reliable conclusion on the Byzantine consensus problem. It is worth noting that the quality of the network environment is relative to Bitcoin's block interval. The 10-minute block generation interval of the Bitcoin can ensure that the system is in a good network communication environment in most cases, given the fact that the broadcast time of a block in the distributed network is usually just several seconds. In addition, economic incentives can motivate most nodes to actively comply with the agreement. It is thus considered that with the current Bitcoin network parameter configuration and mechanism design, the Bitcoin mechanism design has reliably solved the Byzantine Consensus problem in the current network environment.

Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance, PBFT

It is not an easy task to design the Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol in a semi-synchronous network. The first practically usable Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocol is the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) designed by Castro and Liskov in 1999, the first of its kind with polynomial complexity. For a distributed system with $n$ nodes, the communication complexity is $O(n2$.) Castro and Liskov showed in the paper that by transforming centralized file system into a distributed one using the PBFT protocol, the overwall performance was only slowed down by 3%. In this section we will briefly introduce the PBFT protocol, paving the way for further detailed explanations of the Tendermint protocol and the improvements of the Tendermint protocol.
The PBFT protocol that includes $n=3f+1$ nodes can tolerate up to $f$ Byzantine nodes. In the original paper of PBFT, full connection is required among all the $n$ nodes, that is, any two of the n nodes must be connected. All the nodes of the network jointly maintain the system status through network communication. In the Bitcoin network, a node can participate in or exit the consensus process through hashrate mining at any time, which is managed by the administrator, and the PFBT protocol needs to determine all the participating nodes before the protocol starts. All nodes in the PBFT protocol are divided into two categories, master nodes, and slave nodes. There is only one master node at any time, and all nodes take turns to be the master node. All nodes run in a rotation process called View, in each of which the master node will be reelected. The master node selection algorithm in PBFT is very simple: all nodes become the master node in turn by the index number. In each view, all nodes try to reach a consensus on the system status. It is worth mentioning that in the PBFT protocol, each node has its own digital signature key pair. All sent messages (including request messages from the client) need to be signed to ensure the integrity of the message in the network and the traceability of the message itself. (You can determine who sent a message based on the digital signature).
The following figure shows the basic flow of the PBFT consensus protocol. Assume that the current view’s master node is node 0. Client C initiates a request to the master node 0. After the master node receives the request, it broadcasts the request to all slave nodes that process the request of client C and return the result to the client. After the client receives f+1 identical results from different nodes (based on the signature value), the result can be taken as the final result of the entire operation. Since the system can have at most f Byzantine nodes, at least one of the f+1 results received by the client comes from an honest node, and the security of the consensus protocol guarantees that all honest nodes will reach consensus on the same status. So, the feedback from 1 honest node is enough to confirm that the corresponding request has been processed by the system.

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For the status synchronization of all honest nodes, the PBFT protocol has two constraints on each node: on one hand, all nodes must start from the same status, and on the other, the status transition of all nodes must be definite, that is, given the same status and request, the results after the operation must be the same. Under these two constraints, as long as the entire system agrees on the processing order of all transactions, the status of all honest nodes will be consistent. This is also the main purpose of the PBFT protocol: to reach a consensus on the order of transactions between all nodes, thereby ensuring the security of the entire distributed system. In terms of availability, the PBFT consensus protocol relies on a timeout mechanism to find anomalies in the consensus process and start the View Change protocol in time to try to reach a consensus again.
The figure above shows a simplified workflow of the PBFT protocol. Where C is the client, 0, 1, 2, and 3 represent 4 nodes respectively. Specifically, 0 is the master node of the current view, 1, 2, 3 are slave nodes, and node 3 is faulty. Under normal circumstances, the PBFT consensus protocol reaches consensus on the order of transactions between nodes through a three-phase protocol. These three phases are respectively: Pre-Prepare, Prepare, and Commit:
  • The master node of the pre-preparation node is responsible for assigning the sequence number to the received client request, and broadcasting the message to the slave node. The message contains the hash value of the client request d, the sequence number of the current viewv, the sequence number n assigned by the master node to the request, and the signature information of the master nodesig. The scheme design of the PBFT protocol separates the request transmission from the request sequencing process, and the request transmission is not to be discussed here. The slave node that receives the message accepts the message after confirming the message is legitimate and enter preparation phase. The message in this step checks the basic signature, hash value, current view, and, most importantly, whether the master node has given the same sequence number to other request from the client in the current view.
  • In preparation, the slave node broadcasts the message to all nodes (including itself), indicating that it assigns the sequence number n to the client request with the hash value d under the current view v, with its signaturesig as proof. The node receiving the message will check the correctness of the signature, the matching of the view sequence number, etc., and accept the legitimate message. When the PRE-PREPARE message about a client request (from the main node) received by a node matches with the PREPARE from 2f slave nodes, the system has agreed on the sequence number requested by the client in the current view. This means that 2f+1 nodes in the current view agree with the request sequence number. Since it contains information from at most fmalicious nodes, there are a total of f+1 honest nodes that have agreed with the allocation of the request sequence number. With f malicious nodes, there are a total of 2f+1 honest nodes, so f+1represents the majority of the honest nodes, which is the consensus of the majority mentioned before.
  • After the node (including the master node and the slave node) receives a PRE-PREPARE message requested by the client and 2f PREPARE messages, the message is broadcast across the network and enters the submission phase. This message is used to indicate that the node has observed that the whole network has reached a consensus on the sequence number allocation of the request message from the client. When the node receives 2f+1 COMMIT messages, there are at least f+1 honest nodes, that is, most of the honest nodes have observed that the entire network has reached consensus on the arrangement of sequence numbers of the request message from the client. The node can process the client request and return the execution result to the client at this moment.
Roughly speaking, in the pre-preparation phase, the master node assigns a sequence number to all new client requests. During preparation, all nodes reach consensus on the client request sequence number in this view, while in submission the consistency of the request sequence number of the client in different views is to be guaranteed. In addition, the design of the PBFT protocol itself does not require the request message to be submitted by the assigned sequence number, but out of order. That can improve the efficiency of the implementation of the consensus protocol. Yet, the messages are still processed by the sequence number assigned by the consensus protocol for the consistency of the distributed system.
In the three-phase protocol execution of the PBFT protocol, in addition to maintaining the status information of the distributed system, the node itself also needs to log all kinds of consensus information it receives. The gradual accumulation of logs will consume considerable system resources. Therefore, the PBFT protocol additionally defines checkpoints to help the node deal with garbage collection. You can set a checkpoint every 100 or 1000 sequence numbers according to the request sequence number. After the client request at the checkpoint is executed, the node broadcasts messages throughout the network, indicating that after the node executes the client request with sequence number n, the hash value of the system status is d, and it is vouched by its own signature sig. After 2f+1 matching CHECKPOINT messages (one of which can come from the node itself) are received, most of the honest nodes in the entire network have reached a consensus on the system status after the execution of the client request with the sequence numbern, and then you can clear all relevant log records of client requests with the sequence number less than n. The node needs to save these2f+1 CHECKPOINTmessages as proof of the legitimate status at this moment, and the corresponding checkpoint is called a stable checkpoint.
The three-phase protocol of the PBFT protocol can ensure the consistency of the processing order of the client request, and the checkpoint mechanism is set to help nodes perform garbage collection and further ensures the status consistency of the distributed system, both of which can guarantee the security of the distributed system aforementioned. How is the availability of the distributed system guaranteed? In the semi-synchronous network model, a timeout mechanism is usually introduced, which is related to delays in the network environment. It is assumed that the network delay has a known upper bound after GST. In such condition, an initial value is usually set according to the network condition of the system deployed. In case of a timeout event, besides the corresponding processing flow triggered, additional mechanisms will be activated to readjust the waiting time. For example, an algorithm like TCP's exponential back off can be adopted to adjust the waiting time after a timeout event.
To ensure the availability of the system in the PBFT protocol, a timeout mechanism is also introduced. In addition, due to the potential the Byzantine failure in the master node itself, the PBFT protocol also needs to ensure the security and availability of the system in this case. When the Byzantine failure occurs in the master node, for example, when the slave node does not receive the PRE-PREPARE message or the PRE-PREPARE message sent by the master node from the master node within the time window and is thus determined to be illegitimate, the slave node can broadcast to the entire network, indicating that the node requests to switch to the new view with sequence number v+1. n indicates the request sequence number corresponding to the latest stable checkpoint local to the node, and C is to prove the stable checkpoint 2f+1 legitimate CHECKPOINT messages as aforementioned. After the latest stable checkpoint and before initiating the VIEWCHANGE message, the system may have reached a consensus on the sequence numbers of some request messages in the previous view. To ensure the consistency of these request sequence numbers to be switched in the view, the VIEWCHANGE message needs to carry this kind of the information to the new view, which is also the meaning of the P field in the message. P contains all the client request messages collected at the node with a request sequence number greater than n and the proof that a consensus has been reached on the sequence number in the node: the legitimate PRE-PREPARE message of the request and 2f matching PREPARE messages. When the master node in view v+1 collects 2f+1 VIEWCHANGE messages, it can broadcast the NEW-VIEW message and take the entire system into a new view. For the security of the system in combination with the three-phase protocol of the PBFT protocol, the construction rules of the NEW-VIEW information are designed in a quite complicated way. You can refer to the original paper of PBFT for more details.

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VIEWCHANGE contains a lot of information. For example, C contains 2f+1 signature information, P contains several signature sets, and each set has 2f+1 signature. At least 2f+1 nodes need to send a VIEWCHANGE message before prompting the system to enter the next new view, and that means, in addition to the complex logic of constructing the information of VIEWCHANGE and NEW-VIEW, the communication complexity of the view conversion protocol is $O(n2$.) Such complexity also limits the PBFT protocol to support only a few nodes, and when there are 100 nodes, it is usually too complex to practically deploy PBFT. It is worth noting that in some materials the communication complexity of the PBFT protocol is inappropriately attributed to the full connection between n nodes. By changing the fully connected network topology to the P2P network topology based on distributed hash tables commonly used in blockchain projects, high communication complexity caused by full connection can be conveniently solved, yet still, it is difficult to improve the communication complexity during the view conversion process. In recent years, researchers have proposed to reduce the amount of communication in this step by adopting aggregate signature scheme. With this technology, 2f+1 signature information can be compressed into one, thereby reducing the communication volume during view change.
submitted by coinexchain to u/coinexchain [link] [comments]

Technical: A Brief History of Payment Channels: from Satoshi to Lightning Network

Who cares about political tweets from some random country's president when payment channels are a much more interesting and are actually capable of carrying value?
So let's have a short history of various payment channel techs!

Generation 0: Satoshi's Broken nSequence Channels

Because Satoshi's Vision included payment channels, except his implementation sucked so hard we had to go fix it and added RBF as a by-product.
Originally, the plan for nSequence was that mempools would replace any transaction spending certain inputs with another transaction spending the same inputs, but only if the nSequence field of the replacement was larger.
Since 0xFFFFFFFF was the highest value that nSequence could get, this would mark a transaction as "final" and not replaceable on the mempool anymore.
In fact, this "nSequence channel" I will describe is the reason why we have this weird rule about nLockTime and nSequence. nLockTime actually only works if nSequence is not 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. final. If nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF then nLockTime is ignored, because this if the "final" version of the transaction.
So what you'd do would be something like this:
  1. You go to a bar and promise the bartender to pay by the time the bar closes. Because this is the Bitcoin universe, time is measured in blockheight, so the closing time of the bar is indicated as some future blockheight.
  2. For your first drink, you'd make a transaction paying to the bartender for that drink, paying from some coins you have. The transaction has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, and a starting nSequence of 0. You hand over the transaction and the bartender hands you your drink.
  3. For your succeeding drink, you'd remake the same transaction, adding the payment for that drink to the transaction output that goes to the bartender (so that output keeps getting larger, by the amount of payment), and having an nSequence that is one higher than the previous one.
  4. Eventually you have to stop drinking. It comes down to one of two possibilities:
    • You drink until the bar closes. Since it is now the nLockTime indicated in the transaction, the bartender is able to broadcast the latest transaction and tells the bouncers to kick you out of the bar.
    • You wisely consider the state of your liver. So you re-sign the last transaction with a "final" nSequence of 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. the maximum possible value it can have. This allows the bartender to get his or her funds immediately (nLockTime is ignored if nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF), so he or she tells the bouncers to let you out of the bar.
Now that of course is a payment channel. Individual payments (purchases of alcohol, so I guess buying coffee is not in scope for payment channels). Closing is done by creating a "final" transaction that is the sum of the individual payments. Sure there's no routing and channels are unidirectional and channels have a maximum lifetime but give Satoshi a break, he was also busy inventing Bitcoin at the time.
Now if you noticed I called this kind of payment channel "broken". This is because the mempool rules are not consensus rules, and cannot be validated (nothing about the mempool can be validated onchain: I sigh every time somebody proposes "let's make block size dependent on mempool size", mempool state cannot be validated by onchain data). Fullnodes can't see all of the transactions you signed, and then validate that the final one with the maximum nSequence is the one that actually is used onchain. So you can do the below:
  1. Become friends with Jihan Wu, because he owns >51% of the mining hashrate (he totally reorged Bitcoin to reverse the Binance hack right?).
  2. Slip Jihan Wu some of the more interesting drinks you're ordering as an incentive to cooperate with you. So say you end up ordering 100 drinks, you split it with Jihan Wu and give him 50 of the drinks.
  3. When the bar closes, Jihan Wu quickly calls his mining rig and tells them to mine the version of your transaction with nSequence 0. You know, that first one where you pay for only one drink.
  4. Because fullnodes cannot validate nSequence, they'll accept even the nSequence=0 version and confirm it, immutably adding you paying for a single alcoholic drink to the blockchain.
  5. The bartender, pissed at being cheated, takes out a shotgun from under the bar and shoots at you and Jihan Wu.
  6. Jihan Wu uses his mystical chi powers (actually the combined exhaust from all of his mining rigs) to slow down the shotgun pellets, making them hit you as softly as petals drifting in the wind.
  7. The bartender mutters some words, clothes ripping apart as he or she (hard to believe it could be a she but hey) turns into a bear, ready to maul you for cheating him or her of the payment for all the 100 drinks you ordered from him or her.
  8. Steely-eyed, you stand in front of the bartender-turned-bear, daring him to touch you. You've watched Revenant, you know Leonardo di Caprio could survive a bear mauling, and if some posh actor can survive that, you know you can too. You make a pose. "Drunken troll logic attack!"
  9. I think I got sidetracked here.
Lessons learned?

Spilman Channels

Incentive-compatible time-limited unidirectional channel; or, Satoshi's Vision, Fixed (if transaction malleability hadn't been a problem, that is).
Now, we know the bartender will turn into a bear and maul you if you try to cheat the payment channel, and now that we've revealed you're good friends with Jihan Wu, the bartender will no longer accept a payment channel scheme that lets one you cooperate with a miner to cheat the bartender.
Fortunately, Jeremy Spilman proposed a better way that would not let you cheat the bartender.
First, you and the bartender perform this ritual:
  1. You get some funds and create a transaction that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig between you and the bartender. You don't broadcast this yet: you just sign it and get its txid.
  2. You create another transaction that spends the above transaction. This transaction (the "backoff") has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, plus one block. You sign it and give this backoff transaction (but not the above transaction) to the bartender.
  3. The bartender signs the backoff and gives it back to you. It is now valid since it's spending a 2-of-2 of you and the bartender, and both of you have signed the backoff transaction.
  4. Now you broadcast the first transaction onchain. You and the bartender wait for it to be deeply confirmed, then you can start ordering.
The above is probably vaguely familiar to LN users. It's the funding process of payment channels! The first transaction, the one that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig, is the funding transaction that backs the payment channel funds.
So now you start ordering in this way:
  1. For your first drink, you create a transaction spending the funding transaction output and sending the price of the drink to the bartender, with the rest returning to you.
  2. You sign the transaction and pass it to the bartender, who serves your first drink.
  3. For your succeeding drinks, you recreate the same transaction, adding the price of the new drink to the sum that goes to the bartender and reducing the money returned to you. You sign the transaction and give it to the bartender, who serves you your next drink.
  4. At the end:
    • If the bar closing time is reached, the bartender signs the latest transaction, completing the needed 2-of-2 signatures and broadcasting this to the Bitcoin network. Since the backoff transaction is the closing time + 1, it can't get used at closing time.
    • If you decide you want to leave early because your liver is crying, you just tell the bartender to go ahead and close the channel (which the bartender can do at any time by just signing and broadcasting the latest transaction: the bartender won't do that because he or she is hoping you'll stay and drink more).
    • If you ended up just hanging around the bar and never ordering, then at closing time + 1 you broadcast the backoff transaction and get your funds back in full.
Now, even if you pass 50 drinks to Jihan Wu, you can't give him the first transaction (the one which pays for only one drink) and ask him to mine it: it's spending a 2-of-2 and the copy you have only contains your own signature. You need the bartender's signature to make it valid, but he or she sure as hell isn't going to cooperate in something that would lose him or her money, so a signature from the bartender validating old state where he or she gets paid less isn't going to happen.
So, problem solved, right? Right? Okay, let's try it. So you get your funds, put them in a funding tx, get the backoff tx, confirm the funding tx...
Once the funding transaction confirms deeply, the bartender laughs uproariously. He or she summons the bouncers, who surround you menacingly.
"I'm refusing service to you," the bartender says.
"Fine," you say. "I was leaving anyway;" You smirk. "I'll get back my money with the backoff transaction, and posting about your poor service on reddit so you get negative karma, so there!"
"Not so fast," the bartender says. His or her voice chills your bones. It looks like your exploitation of the Satoshi nSequence payment channel is still fresh in his or her mind. "Look at the txid of the funding transaction that got confirmed."
"What about it?" you ask nonchalantly, as you flip open your desktop computer and open a reputable blockchain explorer.
What you see shocks you.
"What the --- the txid is different! You--- you changed my signature?? But how? I put the only copy of my private key in a sealed envelope in a cast-iron box inside a safe buried in the Gobi desert protected by a clan of nomads who have dedicated their lives and their childrens' lives to keeping my private key safe in perpetuity!"
"Didn't you know?" the bartender asks. "The components of the signature are just very large numbers. The sign of one of the signature components can be changed, from positive to negative, or negative to positive, and the signature will remain valid. Anyone can do that, even if they don't know the private key. But because Bitcoin includes the signatures in the transaction when it's generating the txid, this little change also changes the txid." He or she chuckles. "They say they'll fix it by separating the signatures from the transaction body. They're saying that these kinds of signature malleability won't affect transaction ids anymore after they do this, but I bet I can get my good friend Jihan Wu to delay this 'SepSig' plan for a good while yet. Friendly guy, this Jihan Wu, it turns out all I had to do was slip him 51 drinks and he was willing to mine a tx with the signature signs flipped." His or her grin widens. "I'm afraid your backoff transaction won't work anymore, since it spends a txid that is not existent and will never be confirmed. So here's the deal. You pay me 99% of the funds in the funding transaction, in exchange for me signing the transaction that spends with the txid that you see onchain. Refuse, and you lose 100% of the funds and every other HODLer, including me, benefits from the reduction in coin supply. Accept, and you get to keep 1%. I lose nothing if you refuse, so I won't care if you do, but consider the difference of getting zilch vs. getting 1% of your funds." His or her eyes glow. "GENUFLECT RIGHT NOW."
Lesson learned?

CLTV-protected Spilman Channels

Using CLTV for the backoff branch.
This variation is simply Spilman channels, but with the backoff transaction replaced with a backoff branch in the SCRIPT you pay to. It only became possible after OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) was enabled in 2015.
Now as we saw in the Spilman Channels discussion, transaction malleability means that any pre-signed offchain transaction can easily be invalidated by flipping the sign of the signature of the funding transaction while the funding transaction is not yet confirmed.
This can be avoided by simply putting any special requirements into an explicit branch of the Bitcoin SCRIPT. Now, the backoff branch is supposed to create a maximum lifetime for the payment channel, and prior to the introduction of OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY this could only be done by having a pre-signed nLockTime transaction.
With CLTV, however, we can now make the branches explicit in the SCRIPT that the funding transaction pays to.
Instead of paying to a 2-of-2 in order to set up the funding transaction, you pay to a SCRIPT which is basically "2-of-2, OR this singlesig after a specified lock time".
With this, there is no backoff transaction that is pre-signed and which refers to a specific txid. Instead, you can create the backoff transaction later, using whatever txid the funding transaction ends up being confirmed under. Since the funding transaction is immutable once confirmed, it is no longer possible to change the txid afterwards.

Todd Micropayment Networks

The old hub-spoke model (that isn't how LN today actually works).
One of the more direct predecessors of the Lightning Network was the hub-spoke model discussed by Peter Todd. In this model, instead of payers directly having channels to payees, payers and payees connect to a central hub server. This allows any payer to pay any payee, using the same channel for every payee on the hub. Similarly, this allows any payee to receive from any payer, using the same channel.
Remember from the above Spilman example? When you open a channel to the bartender, you have to wait around for the funding tx to confirm. This will take an hour at best. Now consider that you have to make channels for everyone you want to pay to. That's not very scalable.
So the Todd hub-spoke model has a central "clearing house" that transport money from payers to payees. The "Moonbeam" project takes this model. Of course, this reveals to the hub who the payer and payee are, and thus the hub can potentially censor transactions. Generally, though, it was considered that a hub would more efficiently censor by just not maintaining a channel with the payer or payee that it wants to censor (since the money it owned in the channel would just be locked uselessly if the hub won't process payments to/from the censored user).
In any case, the ability of the central hub to monitor payments means that it can surveill the payer and payee, and then sell this private transactional data to third parties. This loss of privacy would be intolerable today.
Peter Todd also proposed that there might be multiple hubs that could transport funds to each other on behalf of their users, providing somewhat better privacy.
Another point of note is that at the time such networks were proposed, only unidirectional (Spilman) channels were available. Thus, while one could be a payer, or payee, you would have to use separate channels for your income versus for your spending. Worse, if you wanted to transfer money from your income channel to your spending channel, you had to close both and reshuffle the money between them, both onchain activities.

Poon-Dryja Lightning Network

Bidirectional two-participant channels.
The Poon-Dryja channel mechanism has two important properties:
Both the original Satoshi and the two Spilman variants are unidirectional: there is a payer and a payee, and if the payee wants to do a refund, or wants to pay for a different service or product the payer is providing, then they can't use the same unidirectional channel.
The Poon-Dryjam mechanism allows channels, however, to be bidirectional instead: you are not a payer or a payee on the channel, you can receive or send at any time as long as both you and the channel counterparty are online.
Further, unlike either of the Spilman variants, there is no time limit for the lifetime of a channel. Instead, you can keep the channel open for as long as you want.
Both properties, together, form a very powerful scaling property that I believe most people have not appreciated. With unidirectional channels, as mentioned before, if you both earn and spend over the same network of payment channels, you would have separate channels for earning and spending. You would then need to perform onchain operations to "reverse" the directions of your channels periodically. Secondly, since Spilman channels have a fixed lifetime, even if you never used either channel, you would have to periodically "refresh" it by closing it and reopening.
With bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels, you may instead open some channels when you first begin managing your own money, then close them only after your lawyers have executed your last will and testament on how the money in your channels get divided up to your heirs: that's just two onchain transactions in your entire lifetime. That is the potentially very powerful scaling property that bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels allow.
I won't discuss the transaction structure needed for Poon-Dryja bidirectional channels --- it's complicated and you can easily get explanations with cute graphics elsewhere.
There is a weakness of Poon-Dryja that people tend to gloss over (because it was fixed very well by RustyReddit):
Another thing I want to emphasize is that while the Lightning Network paper and many of the earlier presentations developed from the old Peter Todd hub-and-spoke model, the modern Lightning Network takes the logical conclusion of removing a strict separation between "hubs" and "spokes". Any node on the Lightning Network can very well work as a hub for any other node. Thus, while you might operate as "mostly a payer", "mostly a forwarding node", "mostly a payee", you still end up being at least partially a forwarding node ("hub") on the network, at least part of the time. This greatly reduces the problems of privacy inherent in having only a few hub nodes: forwarding nodes cannot get significantly useful data from the payments passing through them, because the distance between the payer and the payee can be so large that it would be likely that the ultimate payer and the ultimate payee could be anyone on the Lightning Network.
Lessons learned?

Future

After LN, there's also the Decker-Wattenhofer Duplex Micropayment Channels (DMC). This post is long enough as-is, LOL. But for now, it uses a novel "decrementing nSequence channel", using the new relative-timelock semantics of nSequence (not the broken one originally by Satoshi). It actually uses multiple such "decrementing nSequence" constructs, terminating in a pair of Spilman channels, one in both directions (thus "duplex"). Maybe I'll discuss it some other time.
The realization that channel constructions could actually hold more channel constructions inside them (the way the Decker-Wattenhofer puts a pair of Spilman channels inside a series of "decrementing nSequence channels") lead to the further thought behind Burchert-Decker-Wattenhofer channel factories. Basically, you could host multiple two-participant channel constructs inside a larger multiparticipant "channel" construct (i.e. host multiple channels inside a factory).
Further, we have the Decker-Russell-Osuntokun or "eltoo" construction. I'd argue that this is "nSequence done right". I'll write more about this later, because this post is long enough.
Lessons learned?
submitted by almkglor to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

GPU Mining Crash Course - START HERE!

Welcome All to the GPUMining Crash Course!
With the increase in prices in cryptocurrency, a lot of people are getting back into mining and a lot of people are brand new to the concept overall. So, I quickly wrote this crash course to help you understand what to expect and how to successfully mine your first cryptocurrency. This crash course isn't gonna have all of the fluff you'd see in a normal publication. This is just everything you need to know to get up and running on your first cryptocurrency mining rig.

What is cryptocurrency mining?

One of the main things about cryptocurrencies is that they are "decentralized". Sounds great, but WTF does that even mean? Well, the easiest way to explain it is...
You know how if you want to send your friend/family money digitally, you can do so through your bank. Your bank likely takes a transaction fee and in a few days they will transfer the money. Since cryptocurrencies are decentralized, they don't have a bank or organization to fulfill the transfer of money. Instead, they outsource the computing power of their cryptocurrency network to miners (soon to be you). These miners are verifying transactions, securing the blockchain, and powering the cryptocurrency's specific network among other things. As an incentive, the miners collect transaction fees on the transactions that they verify and collect block rewards while new currency is still being introduced into the ecosystem.

What kind of rig should I build?

You can mine cryptocurrencies using your CPU, GPU, FPGA, or ASIC, but this is a GPU Mining subreddit, so I will cater this to GPUs.
For building a great all-around GPU rig, there are two models of GPUs that I'd recommend:
Both of these GPUs have solid hashrates across most mining algorithms and for a decent price! You should be able to find both of these kinds of GPUs used for around $200-$250 each, which is a great price if you know what happened during the last mining craze! ($200 GPUs were out of stock everywhere and people were reselling them for $600+ each)
There are also plenty of great AMD GPUs for mining, but I've worked mostly with Nvidia so that's why both of my recommendations are Nvidia and not AMD.
Other parts to your rig that you'll need are listed below. Most of these can be pieces of crap and are just needed to make the rig actually run, but the one spot you DON'T want to cheap out on is the power supply unit. A decent power supply unit will keep your home from burning down while also keeping your rigs up and running smoothly. Here are my recommendations:

She's built, now what?

Now you need to do a few things. I am a Windows miner, so I will be speaking to Windows here:
  1. Update Windows - Do all of the updates. Just do it.
  2. Update Drivers - Go to the EVGA website and download GeForce experience. It will keep your GPU drivers up to date.
  3. Go to Windows Device Manager and make sure all of your GPUs show up under "Display Adapters". If it is there, but it isn't showing the Name/Model of the GPU as the name, right click it and select "Update Driver". This should fix it.
Assuming you've done all of this, you're ready to download a mining application.

Mining Software

There are tons to choose from! Claymore, Phoenix, EWBF, LolMiner, etc... It can be overwhelming pretty quickly since they all have different algorithm support, speeds, efficiencies, and a whole lot more. On top of that, in order to get them running you need to set up batch files to call the proper exe, point you to the correct pool, and a whole bunch of other stuff that can be confusing to a new user. Not to mention, you will probably need a separate miner, config file, batch file, etc. for each different algorithm that you're interested in mining on.
Instead, I recommend that you download a miner management software that will take care of most of this tedious work for you. There are a few in the sidebar, but the /GPUMining favorite is AIOMiner. It was developed by our very own community member, xixspiderxix with the intention of making mining as easy as possible to do and without any fees. It supports over 100 different algorithms, so you'll be able to mine nearly ANY cryptocurrency you'd like. Just download it from their website and it will take you through a quick tutorial to help you get set up! You can also connect your rig to their website for remote monitoring and control. You've probably seen a few of their posts around this subreddit.
Other Windows mining softwares include:
Note: Many mining softwares have fees built into them. Most are around 1%, but can go as high as 5% or greater! You want a mining software with little or no fees at all so that you get to keep as much cryptocurrency as possible. These fees aren't something you actively pay, the software will automatically take it by mining on the developers behalf for a given amount of time and then switching back to mining on your own behalf. So, please be diligent in the software that you evaluate and make sure it is reputable.

I keep hearing about NiceHash. What is that?

The asshole of the mining industry. Jk, but not really.
NiceHash is a software program that allows you to sell your rig's hashing power to someone on their marketplace. They market themselves as profitable mining, but you're not really mining. You're selling your power in exchange for Bitcoin.
They did a great job telling people that with them, you're always mining the most profitable coin, but that's just not true. Since it is a mining marketplace, they make you mine whatever their most expensive contract is. If their contracts are below market prices, then you're not operating as efficiently and profitably as you could be.
NiceHash also has a sketchy history, which continues to this day. In 2017, they were hacked and lost $65M worth of Bitcoin. No one got paid out for MONTHS and many of their executives conveniently resigned. Their platform is also used to destroy cryptocurrencies. Since people are able to purchase mining power on their platform, people have used their platform to purchase enough mining power to control individual cryptocurrencies and duplicate coins, which increased the malicious user's wealth while completely destroying the integrity of the coin's blockchain. HoriZEN (formerly ZenCash), Ethereum Classic, and many other great cryptocurrencies have been the victim of NiceHash's platform.
For this and many other reasons, we highly recommend that you stay AWAY from Nicehash. We understand that it is extremely easy to use and you get paid in bitcoin, but they are destroying the industry with their greed and lack of motivation to change their platform for the protection of cryptocurrencies.

Concluding Thoughts

This is pretty much everything you need to know to get started. We covered the hardware, setting up the software, which software to use, and AIOMiner's tutorial will get you up to speed on how to actually mine the cryptocurrency that you want better than I can explain it, so I'll leave that part to them.
If you have any questions on this crash course, please leave a comment below where myself and other community members will be able to help you out.
submitted by The_Brutally_Honest to gpumining [link] [comments]

Transcript of Open Developer Meeting in Discord - 7/19/2019

[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 3:58 PM
Hey everyone. The channel is now open for the dev meeting.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 3:58 PM
Hi
TronLast Friday at 3:59 PM
Hi all!
JerozLast Friday at 3:59 PM
:wave:
TronLast Friday at 3:59 PM
Topics: Algo stuff - x22rc, Ownership token for Restricted Assets and Assets.
JerozLast Friday at 4:00 PM
@Milo is also here from coinrequest.
MiloLast Friday at 4:00 PM
Hi :thumbsup:
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 4:00 PM
welcome, @Milo
TronLast Friday at 4:00 PM
Great.
@Milo Was there PRs for Android and iOS?
MiloLast Friday at 4:01 PM
Yes, I've made a video. Give me a second I'll share it asap.
JerozLast Friday at 4:02 PM
I missed the iOS one.
MiloLast Friday at 4:02 PM
Well its 1 video, but meant for all.
JerozLast Friday at 4:02 PM
Ah, there's an issue but no pull request (yet?)
https://github.com/RavenProject/ravenwallet-ios/issues/115
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:03 PM
nice @Milo
MiloLast Friday at 4:04 PM
Can it be that I have no video post rights?
JerozLast Friday at 4:05 PM
In discord?
MiloLast Friday at 4:05 PM
yes?
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:05 PM
just a link?
JerozLast Friday at 4:05 PM
Standard version has a file limit afaik
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 4:05 PM
try now
gave permissions
MiloLast Friday at 4:05 PM
it's not published yet on Youtube, since I didn't knew when it would be published in the wallets
file too big. Hold on i'll put it on youtube and set it on private
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:06 PM
no worries ipfs it...:yum:
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 4:06 PM
ok, just send link when you can
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:07 PM
So guys. We released Ravencoin v2.4.0!
JerozLast Friday at 4:08 PM
If you like the code. Go update them nodes! :smiley:
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:08 PM
We are recommending that you are upgrading to it. It fixes a couple bugs in the code base inherited from bitcoin!
MiloLast Friday at 4:08 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t\_g7NpFXm6g&feature=youtu.be
sorry for the hold up
YouTube
Coin Request
Raven dev Gemiddeld
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:09 PM
thanks short and sweet!!
KAwARLast Friday at 4:10 PM
Is coin request live on the android wallet?
TronLast Friday at 4:10 PM
Nice video.
It isn't in the Play Store yet.
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 4:10 PM
Well, this is the first time in a while where we have this many devs online. What questions do y'all have?
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:11 PM
Algo questions?
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 4:11 PM
sure
KAwARLast Friday at 4:11 PM
KK
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:12 PM
what are the proposed 22 algos in x22r? i could only find the original 16 plus 5 on x21.
TronLast Friday at 4:12 PM
Likely the 5 from x21 and find one more.
We need to make sure they're all similar in time profile.
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:14 PM
should we bother fixing a asic-problem that we dont know exists for sure or not?
TronLast Friday at 4:14 PM
That's the 170 million dollar question.
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:14 PM
I would prefer to be proactive not reactive.
imo
JerozLast Friday at 4:14 PM
same
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:15 PM
RIPEMD160 is a golden oldie but not sure on hash speed compared to the others.
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:15 PM
in my mind we should focus on the restricted messaging etc
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:15 PM
probably won't know if the action was needed until after you take the action
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:15 PM
we are at risk of being interventionistas
acting under opacity
TronLast Friday at 4:15 PM
Needs to spit out at least 256 bit. Preferably 512 bit.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:15 PM
ok
TronLast Friday at 4:15 PM
If it isn't 512 bit, it'll cause some extra headache for the GPU mining software.
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:16 PM
i seek to avoid iatrogenics
TronLast Friday at 4:16 PM
Similar to the early problems when all the algos except the first one were built for 64-bytes (512-bit) inputs.
Had to look that one up. TIL iatrogenics
JerozLast Friday at 4:17 PM
I have to google most of @liqdmetal's vocabulary :smile:
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:17 PM
@Tron tldr: basically the unseen, unintended negative side effects of the asic "cure"
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:18 PM
10 dolla word
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:19 PM
we need a really strong case to intervene in what has been created.
TronLast Friday at 4:19 PM
I agree. I'm less concerned with the technical risk than I am the potential split risk experienced multiple times by Monero.
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:20 PM
tron do you agree that forking the ravencoin chain presents unique risks compared to other chains that aren't hosting assets?
JerozLast Friday at 4:21 PM
Yes, if you fork, you need to figure out for each asset which one you want to support.
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:21 PM
yeah. and the asset issuer could have a chain preference
TronLast Friday at 4:22 PM
@Sevvy (y rvn pmp?) Sure. Although, I'd expect that the asset issuers will be honor the assets on the dominant chain. Bigger concern is the branding confusion of multiple forks. See Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV for an example. We know they're different, but do non-crypto folks?
Hans_SchmidtLast Friday at 4:22 PM
I thought that the take-away from the recently published analyses and discussions was that ASICs for RVN may be active, but if so then they are being not much more effective than GPUs.
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:22 PM
agreed on all accounts there tron
TronLast Friday at 4:23 PM
I'm not yet convinced ASICs are on the network.
KAwARLast Friday at 4:23 PM
It would be better to damage an asic builder by forking after they made major expenses. Creating for them the type of deficit that could be negated by just buying instead of mining. Asic existence should be 100 percent confirmed before fork.
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:23 PM
170million dollar question is right.lol
TronLast Friday at 4:24 PM
I've had someone offer to connect me to the folks at Fusion Silicon.
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:25 PM
yes. and if they are active on the network they are not particularly good ASICs
which makes it a moot point probably
TronLast Friday at 4:26 PM
The difficult part of this problem is that by the time everyone agrees that ASICs are problematic on the network, then voting the option in is likely no longer an option.
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:26 PM
yes. part of me wonders if we would say "okay, the clock on the asic countdown is reset by this new algo. but now the race is on"
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:26 PM
There are always risks when making a change that will fork the network. We want wait to long though, as tron said. It wont be a voting change. it will be a mandatory change at a block number.
Sevvy (y rvn pmp?)Last Friday at 4:26 PM
acknowledge the inevitable
MiloLast Friday at 4:27 PM
I had just a small question from my side. When do you think the android version would be published, and do you maybe have a time-frame for the others?
TronLast Friday at 4:27 PM
Quick poll. How would everyone here feel about a BIP9 option - separate from the new features that can be voted in?
KAwARLast Friday at 4:27 PM
Maybe voting should not be a strictly blockchain vote. A republic and a democratic voice?
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:27 PM
@Milo We can try and get a beta out next week, and publish soon after that.
MiloLast Friday at 4:28 PM
@[Dev-Happy] Blondfrogs :thumbsup::slight_smile:
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:28 PM
BIP9 preemptive vote. I like it.
TronLast Friday at 4:30 PM
The advantage to a BIP9 vote is that it puts the miners and mining pools at a clear majority before activation.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:30 PM
Centralisation is inevitable unless we decide to resist it. ASIC's are market based and know the risks and rewards possible. A key step in resisting is sending a message. An algo change to increase asic resistance is imho a strong message. A BIP9 vote now would also be an indicator of bad actors early....
TronLast Friday at 4:30 PM
The disadvantage is that it may not pass if the will isn't there.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:30 PM
Before assets are on main net and cause additional issues.
KAwARLast Friday at 4:31 PM
I am not schooled in coding to have an educated voice. I only understand social problems and how it affects the economy.
SpyderDevLast Friday at 4:31 PM
All are equal on RVN
TronLast Friday at 4:31 PM
It is primarily a social problem. The tech change is less risky and is easier than the social.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:32 PM
All can have a share....people who want more of a share however pay for the privilege and associated risks.
KAwARLast Friday at 4:33 PM
Assets and exchange listings need to be consistent and secure.
brutoidLast Friday at 4:36 PM
I'm still not entirely clear on what the overall goal to the algo change is? Is it just to brick the supposed ASICs (unknown 45%) which could still be FPGAs as seen from the recent block analysis posted in the nest. Is the goal to never let ASICs on? Is it to brick FPGAs ultimately. Are we making Raven strictly GPU only? I'm still unclear
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:37 PM
What about the future issue of ASICs returning after a BIP9 fork "soon"? Are all following the WP as a community? i.e asic resistant or are we prepared to change that to asic resistant for early coin emission. Ideally we should plan for the future. Could the community make a statement that no future algo changes will be required to incentivise future public asic manufacturers?
Lol. Same question @brutoid
brutoidLast Friday at 4:37 PM
Haha it is
You mind-beamed me!
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:38 PM
The is up to the community.
Currently, the feel seems like the community is anti asic forever.
The main issue is getting people to upgrade.
KAwARLast Friday at 4:38 PM
Clarity is important. Otherwise we are attacking windmills like Don Quixote.
brutoidLast Friday at 4:39 PM
I'm not getting the feeling of community ASIC hate if the last few weeks of discussion are anything to go by?
Hans_SchmidtLast Friday at 4:39 PM
A unilateral non-BIP9 change at a chosen block height is a serious thing, but anti-ASIC has been part of the RVN philosophy since the whitepaper and is therefore appropriate for that purpose.
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:39 PM
We can use the latest release as an example. It was a non forking release, announced for 2 weeks. and only ~30% of the network has upgraded.
TronLast Friday at 4:39 PM
@Hans_Schmidt Well said.
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:40 PM
I'm not concerned about a "asic hardware problem" so much as I believe it more likely what we are seeing is several big fish miners (perhaps a single really big fish). For now I recommend standing pat on x16r. In the future I can see an algo upgrade fork to keep the algo up to date. If we start fighting against dedicated x16r hashing machines designed and built to secure our network we are more likely to go down in flames. The custom SHA256 computers that make the bitcoin the most secure network in existence are a big part of that security. If some party has made an asic that performs up to par or better than FPGA or GPU on x16r, that is a positive for this network, a step towards SHA256 security levels. It is too bad the community is in the dark regarding their developments. Therefore I think the community has to clarify its stance towards algorithm changes. I prefer a policy that will encourage the development of mining software, bitstreams and hardware by as many parties as possible. The imminent threat of ALGO fork screws the incentive up for developers.
JerozLast Friday at 4:40 PM
@brutoid the vocal ones are lenient towards asics, but the outcome of the 600+ votes seemed pretty clear.
brutoidLast Friday at 4:40 PM
This is my confusion
TronLast Friday at 4:41 PM
More hashes are only better if the cost goes up proportionally. Machines that do more hashes for less $ doesn't secure the network more, and trends towards centralization.
JerozLast Friday at 4:41 PM
I would argue for polling ever so often as it certainly will evolve dynamically with the state of crypto over time.
TronLast Friday at 4:41 PM
Measure security in two dimensions. Distribution, and $/hash.
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:41 PM
and volume of hash
traysiLast Friday at 4:42 PM
45% of the hashrate going to one party is unhealthy, and standing pat on x16r just keeps that 45% where it is.
TronLast Friday at 4:42 PM
Volume doesn't matter if the cost goes down. For example, lets say software shows up that does 1000x better than the software from yesterday, and everyone moves to it. That does not add security. Even if the "difficulty" and embedded hashes took 1000x more attempts to find.
brutoidLast Friday at 4:42 PM
My issue is defintely centralization of hash and not so much what machine is doing it. I mine with both GPU and FPGA. Of course, the FPGAs are not on raven
TJayLast Friday at 4:44 PM
easy solution is just to replace a few of 16 current hash functions, without messing with x21r or whatever new shit
TronLast Friday at 4:44 PM
How do folks here feel about allowing CPUs back in the game?
traysiLast Friday at 4:44 PM
Botnets is my concern with CPUs
brutoidLast Friday at 4:44 PM
Botnets is my concern
SpyderDevLast Friday at 4:44 PM
Yes please.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:44 PM
the poll votes seem not very security conscious. More of day miners chasing profits. I love them bless! Imho the future is bright for raven, however these issues if not sorted out now will bite hard long term when asset are on the chain and gpu miners are long gone.....
ZaabLast Friday at 4:45 PM
How has the testing of restricted assets been on the test net?
liqdmetalLast Friday at 4:45 PM
Agreed. I dont think x16r is obsolete like that yet however
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:45 PM
@Zaab not enough testing at the moment.
HedgerLast Friday at 4:45 PM
Yes, how is the Testing going?
justinjjaLast Friday at 4:45 PM
Like randomX or how are cpus going to be back in the game?
TronLast Friday at 4:45 PM
@Zaab Just getting started at testing at the surface level (RPC calls), and fixing as we go.
ZaabLast Friday at 4:45 PM
And or any updates on the review of dividend code created by the community
Lokar -=Kai=-Last Friday at 4:45 PM
if the amount of hash the unknown pool has is fixed as standarderror indicated then waiting for the community of FPGAers to get onto raven might be advantageous if the fork doesn't hurt FPGAs.
ZaabLast Friday at 4:45 PM
Can't rememeber who was on it
SpyderDevLast Friday at 4:45 PM
@Zaab But we are working on it...
Lokar -=Kai=-Last Friday at 4:46 PM
more hash for votes
JerozLast Friday at 4:46 PM
@Maldon is, @Zaab
TronLast Friday at 4:46 PM
@Zaab There are unit tests and functional tests already, but we'd like more.
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 4:46 PM
@Zaab Dividend code is currently adding test cases for better security. Should have more update on that next meeting
KAwARLast Friday at 4:46 PM
Absolute democracy seems to resemble anarchy or at least civil war. In EVE online they have a type of community voice that get voted in by the community.
ZaabLast Friday at 4:46 PM
No worries was just curious if it was going as planned or significant issues were being found
Obviously some hiccups are expected
More testing is always better!
TronLast Friday at 4:47 PM
Who in here is up for a good civil war? :wink:
ZaabLast Friday at 4:47 PM
Tron v Bruce. Celebrity fight night with proceeds to go to the RVN dev fund
SpyderDevLast Friday at 4:48 PM
Cagefight or mudpit?
JerozLast Friday at 4:48 PM
talking about dev funds..... :wink:
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 4:49 PM
and there goes the conversation....
KAwARLast Friday at 4:49 PM
I am trying to be serious...
ZaabLast Friday at 4:49 PM
Sorry back to the ascii topic!
traysiLast Friday at 4:49 PM
@Tron What do we need in order to make progress toward a decision on the algo? Is there a plan or a roadmap of sorts to get us some certainty about what we're going to do?
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:50 PM
Could we have 3 no BIP9 votes? No1 Friendly to asics, retain status quo. No2 change to x17r minimal changes etc, with no additional future PoW/algo upgrades. No3. Full Asic resistance x22r and see what happens...
:thonk~1:
Sounds messy....
TronLast Friday at 4:51 PM
Right now we're in research mode. We're building CNv4 so we can run some metrics. If that goes well, we can put together x22rc and see how it performs. It will likely gore everyone's ox. CPUs can play, GPUs work, but aren't dominant. ASICs VERY difficult, and FPGAs will have a tough time.
ZaabLast Friday at 4:51 PM
Yeah i feel like the results would be unreliable
TronLast Friday at 4:51 PM
Is this good, or do we lose everyone's vote?
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:52 PM
Fpga will be dead
Lokar -=Kai=-Last Friday at 4:52 PM
why isn;t a simple XOR or something on the table?
ZaabLast Friday at 4:52 PM
The multiple bip9 that is
Lokar -=Kai=-Last Friday at 4:52 PM
something asic breaking but doesn't greatly complicate ongoing efforts for FPGA being my point.
justinjjaLast Friday at 4:52 PM
How are you going to vote for x22rc?
Because if by hashrate that wouldn't pass.
traysiLast Friday at 4:52 PM
Personally I like the idea of x22rc but I'd want to investigate the botnet threat if CPUs are allowed back in.
TronLast Friday at 4:52 PM
XOR is on the table, and was listed in my Medium post. But, the social risk of chain split remains, for very little gain.
traysiLast Friday at 4:53 PM
@Lokar -=Kai=- A small change means that whoever has 45% can probably quickly adapt.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:53 PM
Research sounds good. x22rc could be reduce to x22r for simplicity...
TronLast Friday at 4:53 PM
x22r is a viable option. No CNv4.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:53 PM
Don't know how much time we have to play with though...
Lokar -=Kai=-Last Friday at 4:53 PM
if they have FPGAs yes if they have ASIC then not so much, but I guess that gets to the point, what exactly are we trying to remove from the network?
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:54 PM
Guys my name is Arsen and we designed x16r fpga on bcus. Just about to release it to the public. I am buzzdaves partner.
Cryptonight
Will kill us
But agreed
Asic is possible on x16r
And you dont need 256 core
Cores
traysiLast Friday at 4:55 PM
Hi Arsen. Are you saying CN will kill "us" meaning RVN, or meaning FPGA?
JerozLast Friday at 4:55 PM
This is what im afraid of ^ an algo change killing FPGA as I have the feeling there is a big fpga community working on this
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:55 PM
Fpgas ))
whitefire990Last Friday at 4:55 PM
I am also about to release X16R for CVP13 + BCU1525 FPGA's. I'm open to algo changes but I really don't believe in CPU mining because of botnets. Any CNv4 shifts 100% to CPU mining, even if it is only 1 of the 22 functions.
Lokar -=Kai=-Last Friday at 4:55 PM
namely FPGAs that aren;t memory equipped
like fast mem
not ddr
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:55 PM
Hbm non hbm
Cryptonight
whitefire990Last Friday at 4:56 PM
Right now with both Buzzdave/Altered Silicon and myself (Zetheron) about to release X16R for FPGA's, then the 45% miner's share will decrease to 39% or less.
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:56 PM
Will be dead for fpga
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 4:56 PM
sound so x22r is fpga "friendly" ... more so than asic anyway...
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:56 PM
But a change must be planned
X16r is no way possible to avoid asics
TJayLast Friday at 4:56 PM
@LSJI07 - MBIT I would say less friendly...
whitefire990Last Friday at 4:57 PM
As I mentioned in thenest discussion, asic resistance increases with the square of the number of functions, so X21R is more asic resistant than X16R, but both are pretty resistant
PlayHardLast Friday at 4:58 PM
Yeah more algos make it heavier on ASIC
DirkDiggler (Citadel Architect)Last Friday at 4:58 PM
My interpretation of the whitepaper was that we used x16r as it was brand new (thus ASIC resistant), and that was to ensure a fair launch... We've launched... I don't like the idea of constantly forking to avoid the inevitable ASICs.
x16r was a great "experiment" before we had any exchange listings... that ship has sailed though... not sure about all these x22rs lmnop changes
KAwARLast Friday at 5:00 PM
I believe that it is easier to change the direction of a bicycle than an oil tanker. We feel more like a train. We should lay out new tracks and test on them and find benefits that are acceptable to everyone except train robbers. Then open the new train station with no contentious feelings except a silently disgruntled minority group. ???
Hans_SchmidtLast Friday at 5:01 PM
The most productive action the community can do now re ASICs is to voice support for the devs to make a non-BIP9 change at a chosen block height if/when the need is clear. That removes the pressure to act rashly to avoid voting problems.
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 5:01 PM
Thats why im proposing to fork at least once to a more asic resistant algo (but FPGA "friendly/possible"), with the proviso ideally that no more PoW algo forks are require to provide future ASICs some opportunity to innovate with silicon and efficiency.
TJayLast Friday at 5:01 PM
folks should take into account, that high end FPGAs like BCU1525 on x16r can't beat even previous gen GPUs (Pascal) in terms of hash cost. so they aren't a threat to miners community
PlayHardLast Friday at 5:02 PM
A proper change
Requires proper research
eyz (Silence)Last Friday at 5:02 PM
Just so I'm clear here, we are trying to boot ASICS, don't want CPUs because of Botnets, and are GPU and FPGA friendly right?
PlayHardLast Friday at 5:02 PM
It is not a quick one day process
eyz (Silence)Last Friday at 5:02 PM
If there is a bip9 vote there needs to be a clear explanation as I feel most in the community don't understand exactly what we are trying to fix
TronLast Friday at 5:03 PM
@Hans_Schmidt I like that route. It has some game theoretics. It gives time for miners to adapt. It is only used if needed. It reduces the likelihood of ASICs dominating the network, or even being built.
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 5:03 PM
Hey guys. great convo. We are of course looking to do the best thing for the community and miner. We are going to be signing off here though.
justinjjaLast Friday at 5:03 PM
TJay that comes down to power cost.
If your paying 4c/kw gpus all the way.
But if your a home miner in europe an fpga is your only chance
LSJI07 - MBITLast Friday at 5:03 PM
@Hans_Schmidt How do we decide the block limit and when sufficient evidence is available? I would say we have had much compelling information to date...
[Dev-Happy] BlondfrogsLast Friday at 5:03 PM
Thanks for participating. and keep up the good work :smiley:
Have a good weekend.
CAWWWW
TronLast Friday at 5:03 PM
I haven't seen any compelling evidence of ASICs - yet.
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 5:03 PM
:v:
JerozLast Friday at 5:04 PM
I suggest to continue discussion in #development and #thenest :smiley:
thanks all!
TronLast Friday at 5:04 PM
Cheers everyone!
KAwARLast Friday at 5:04 PM
Agree with Hans.
DirkDiggler (Citadel Architect)Last Friday at 5:04 PM
thanks Tron
Pho3nix Monk3yLast Friday at 5:04 PM
Ending here. continue in Nest if wanted
DirkDiggler (Citadel Architect)Last Friday at 5:04 PM
I am waiting for compelling evidence myself.
submitted by mrderrik to Ravencoin [link] [comments]

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