Elrond “Zero to One” Testnet Update

Beniamin Mincu
Elrond Network
Published in
6 min readJun 5, 2019


We’ve built an important piece of technology, and if we have seen further, it has been by standing on the shoulders of giants. Indeed, Bitcoin was the first to introduce blockchain technology, and prove to the world that we could transfer ownership without the need for a trusted third party. Ethereum, was the second major iteration, adding a scripting language with smart contracts to the blockchain. But neither Bitcoin, nor Ethereum have come anywhere close to the performance needed for using blockchain at scale in real world settings.

Thus, Elrond has rebuilt everything from scratch to bring a 1000-fold improvement in throughput, execution speed, and transaction cost. Think of it like the transition the internet went through when switching from dialup to broadband. Few understood how massive the impact of that change was going to be. Even fewer understand the potential impact of this change for blockchains today, but it’s happening, right in front of our eyes. And Elrond is leading it.

Little by little one travels far

Over a year and a half ago, we began working on arguably the most ambitious blockchain architecture to date. One capable of not just withstanding the pressures of mass adoption, but thriving alongside it. Now, through the delivery of adaptive state sharding and secure proof of stake, we have achieved a significant milestone, with a blockchain that grows in throughput significantly as more nodes join the network.

The first phase of Elrond Network’s journey began in October 2017 with a formalization of Adaptive State Sharding, and a new consensus mechanism called Secure Proof of Stake. The result was our technical paper, published in May 2018. The second phase, through which our core hypothesis was validated, came via a Java prototype implementation, concluding with the public prototype release in July 2018, and then, open source of this prototype in November 2018. The robust blockchain architecture we have today, is the product of a complete rethinking of our architecture, resulting in a Go implementation which yielded a 30-fold improvement compared to our prototype.

Driving forces: team and community

We’re proud that throughout all of this we’ve been self-funded. This allowed us give undivided attention to building; it also enabled us to dodge the distractions of market volatility which distract virtually every project in this space. We raised funds only after much of our development process has been completed, and along with the funds we received a critical new ally: a devoted and constantly engaged community — for which we are grateful.

While the potential of Adaptive State Sharding had been rung before, the technology had been brushed aside as “impossible to pull off.” Due to this, the truest way to describe the work of Elrond Network is as “Zero to One,” a derivative from Peter Thiel’s book, which accurately captured the difficulty of delivering something fundamentally new as opposed to delivering a horizontal improvement upon something that already exists.

The Technology — from Zero to One

Elrond’s “Zero to One” testnet is live and it delivers over 10,000 transactions per second with just five shards. Take a moment, and read that again. That’s 10,000 transactions per second, right now. And this is only the first implementation of the testnet.

This is also the most advanced validation of Adaptive State Sharding and Secure Proof of Stake, giving a glimpse of the radical possibilities that open up with the greatly increased throughput capabilities Elrond brings.

Our blockchain integrates key technologies such as State Sharding, and a modified BFT-like consensus called Secure Proof of Stake. We have also used Schnorr signatures for transactions, BLS for randomness generation, and modified BLS multi-signatures for consensus signatures aggregation, thereby drastically reducing the communication rounds from 5 to 2.

Testing, testing, testing

Due to the importance of interoperability, we have developed a Meta VM that is able to formally verify smart contracts and will support Solidity, IELE, and WASM. The Elrond VM offers a readily accessible solution to the scalability issues faced by many of the developments that already exist in the blockchain space. During our livestream, we showed that with only five shards (plus metachain) and 126 nodes, which were run on AWS from six different geo-locations, we achieved 10,000 TPS with a 6-second latency. The impact of Elrond’s throughput is hard to overstate; this is an infrastructure designed for applications that can handle real world demand.

Elrond testnet launch recording

As Elrond Network is in its testnet phase, the next steps involve a series of stress testing and penetration testing tasks, in an effort to discover bugs, fix them, and further increase network stability.

To ensure the community is a part of our achievements every step of the way, we intend to provide community developers with wallet binaries this week. This will allow our close supporters to play with the technology and come up with valuable feedback on it. To go one step further, we intend to launch a structured community competition in the next two weeks, very similar to the Game of Stakes done in Cosmos. This competition will have the aim of familiarizing the community with Elrond’s technology and transforming stress-testing into a continuous game everyone in the community can play.

Live in the future and build what’s missing

We have made tremendous progress with the delivery of our testnet, and will rapidly advance toward the mainnet in the coming 3 months. There will probably be at least 3 versions of testnet out until we reach the mainnet launch. During this period we will share many more updates like this one, making concrete steps to delivering the technology, but also provide it to valuable startups and businesses to build scalable applications on.

The last few months we’ve also seen a significant growth in our community. It’s not only the number of people, but meaningful engagement and feedback that counts. We’re excited and grateful to have you with us on this journey!

Business partners are very important to us, so we’ve been having lots of discussions with startups and businesses that can build on Elrond and can help us expand our ecosystem. We’re glad to have several partnerships already in place with Nash, Netopia and DSLR. A good number of new partnerships have been concluded and several others are still in the works. More exciting news on this will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

Blockchains are early today but will transform economies tomorrow

Software is eating the world, and Blockchain technology is software which has reached an inflection point with profound implications for humanity. For the first time in history we have a way to record, authenticate and transfer ownership without the need for a trusted third party.

Not only that, but we’ve also discovered a new fundamental super-structure built on open, permissionless, and censorship resistant primitives, which will function as an efficient trust-minimization mechanism, likely becoming the most important GDP multiplier of the internet.

So where does Elrond fit into all of this?

Visions of the future

Let’s do a thought experiment and visualize two scenarios:

Short term: suppose you would want to build an open, borderless, permissionless, censorship-resistant, globally accessible financial system with robust unit of account, medium of exchange and store of value. What are the components you need to do that?

Longer term: Suppose in 2–5 years we somehow manage to develop fully self-driving cars from Tesla, autonomously driving around, recharging and paying. What are the components you need to enable that?

Well, I guess the answer to both questions is that you need (1) fast globally accessible internet(which we almost have), and (2) a highly scalable public blockchain maximizing high throughput, fast execution speed and low transaction cost.

Enable anyone, anywhere to access the digital economy. This is what Elrond was built for. All of this takes time, but we’re getting there. One step after another. Onwards!