Interoperability Design Comparison: MAP, Cosmos, and Polkadot
At the current state of Blockchain technologies, there are several main pain points. One of them is providing Interoperability or cross-chain capabilities over existing chains such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other popular chains. In the pioneer of the multi-chain paradigm, Cosmos and Polkadot probably are the most famous two. However, there is a new trending chain (Marcopolo Protocol) coming up to rival those well-established chains. That’s why we should love the game (blockchain business). Its openness, transparency, and freedom is for everyone who has got balls to pursue their dreams.
MarcoPolo Protocol(MAP) is an open and completely decentralized chain-to-chain interoperation protocol that enables the interoperability of multiple independently verifiable consensus blockchains without a relay chain. MAP expects to construct a peer-to-peer future internet with a huge amount of flexible interoperability through chain-to-chain TPS, privacy computing, storage, security, and other resources. Resources and capabilities of each chain
will be integrated into an inter-chain and form a unified blockchain infrastructure for all blockchain application developers. This underlying infrastructure can be used for finance, AI, IoT, traceability, and governance.
So if you allow me to use one sentence to summarize all for MAP, here it is, MAP is set to build an internet of Money infrastructure for the internet of people. It makes it more glamorous about this arch-rivalry thing, Internet of Money V.S. Internet of Blockchains.
Today we will have a deep look, how MarcoPolo Protocol designs their Interoperability multi-chain architecture and do a head-to-head comparison between its rival Cosmos and Polkadot.
In order to understand the architecture of Cosmos, Polkadot, and MAP. Let us have a crash course on each of the chains and understand the terminologies.
In the Cosmos Universe, there exist Hubs and Zones and in-between there is an IBC protocol to connect Hubs and Zones. Zones are regular heterogeneous blockchains and Hubs are blockchains specifically designed to connect Zones together. When a Zone creates an IBC connection with a Hub, it can automatically access (i.e. send to and receive from) every other Zone that is connected to it. As a result, each Zone only needs to establish a limited number of connections with a restricted set of Hubs. Hubs also prevent double-spending among Zones. This means that when a Zone receives a token from a Hub, it only needs to trust the origin Zone of this token and the Hub. The first Hub launched in the Cosmos Network is the Cosmos Hub. The Cosmos Hub is a public Proof-of-Stake blockchain whose native staking token is called the ATOM, and where transaction fees will be payable in multiple tokens.
In the Polkadot world, they have Relay Chains and Parachains. Polkadot can be thought of as “an infrastructure for infrastructure.” First-order parachains built atop the main relay chain will provide the core building blocks for the system. These will be high-throughput, high-utility chains that provide essential services for the rest of the network. Included in these core first-order parachains could be things like general-purpose smart contracts chains, oracles, and identity chains.
Unlike other cross-chain platforms with restrictions, MAP is committed to creating a free inter-chain protocol. The goal of MAP is to build a large-scale open collaboration infrastructure with a large number of interoperable blockchains, which can serve various DAPPs such as finance, IoT, and traceability.
Compared with Polkadot and Cosmos, MAP has essential differences. As great a design and architecture as we discussed above, Polkadot and Cosmos are committed to building a cloud-like computing system and all inter-chain interoperability can only be achieved through a specified relay chain or a hub chain.
However, MAP is a more TCP/IP-like peer-to-peer protocol, through the free and open interoperability between blockchains, forming a borderless, open ecosystem composed of heterogeneous interoperable blockchains, providing solid underlying infrastructure for blockchain applications.
At the same time, MAP will provide a benchmark chain (MarcoPolo Stand Chain) that decouples the consensus component and the state transition component. It’s worth mentioning that MarcoPolo Standard Chain is not the only benchmark chain to be used in the MAP system, anyone can build other benchmark chains to serve the ecosystem in the future.
It consists of one standard chain, a set of synerchains, and a set of interactive chains. The standard chain is responsible for achieving cross-chain consensus and transaction distribution to synerchains. Synerchain, an independent blockchain with its own consensus protocol and State Transition Function (STF), interacts with the standard chain through Message Transport Protocol (MTP). Interactchain enables MarcoPolo to interoperate with other public chains through Blockchain Remote Procedure Call (BRPC) to achieve resource sharing.
This is the major difference from MAP to the other two blockchain projects. In MAP’s infrastructure the standard chains, syner chains can talk to each other. However in Cosmo (Zone — Hub — Zone) and Polkadot (ParaChain — Relay Chain — ParaChain), all the side chains have to talk to the main chains, then the main chains can relay the messages to other side chains. Obviously MAP is more flexible and versatile in that regard, we shall wait and see the performance benchmark of MAP once it goes live late 2020.
Speaking of blockchains we have to discuss consensus algorithms. At its heart, consensus represents the characteristics, securities, and openness of the blockchain itself.
The Polkadot Relay Chain uses a consensus algorithm invented by the team called GRANDPA. This algorithm allows the Relay Chain to finalize many blocks from all the parachains quickly and can also accommodate a large number of validators (over 1000). Simplistically, this is because not all the validators need to vote on every single block — instead, validators can vote on a single highest block they think is valid, and the algorithm transitively applies the vote to all ancestors of that block. Through this, the algorithm finds the set of blocks that have a supermajority vote and considers that final. GRANDPA is still under development and we do not know how it will perform in the real world.
On the other hand, the main hub blockchain in the Cosmos Network uses a consensus algorithm called Tendermint. At a high-level, the Tendermint algorithm works by having every validator talk to each other to approve/reject any single block, creating finality on a per-block level. The algorithm is fast and has been stress-tested in a live environment with 200 validators and 6-second block times during the Game of Stakes. The Cosmos team also provides a software development kit with the Tendermint algorithm being usable out-of-the-box.
The biggest downside of Tendermint is that it has a high communication overhead between validators. This means that while it could work fairly fast with ~200 validators, it will be much slower with 1000 validators.
As for MAP, from the latest MAP whitepaper, we can tell MAP is going to use PoS. PoS was created as an alternative to the proof of work (PoW), to tackle inherent issues in the latter. When a transaction is initiated, the transaction data is fitted into a block with a maximum capacity of 1 megabyte, and then duplicated across multiple computers or nodes on the network. Proof of Stake was first introduced in a paper by Sunny King and Scott Nadal in 2012.
It’s a thing that blockchain embraces its communities, especially development communities. All of Cosmos, Polkadot, and MAP will provide their distinctive development frameworks or SDKs to help the community to build out DAPPS and side chains as easy as possible.
The Cosmos-SDK is an open-source framework for building multi-asset public Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchains, like the Cosmos Hub, as well as permission Proof-Of-Authority (PoA) blockchains. Blockchains built with the Cosmos SDK are generally referred to as application-specific blockchains.
The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to allow developers to easily create custom blockchains from scratch that can natively interoperate with other blockchains with following advantages:
- The default consensus engine available within the SDK is Tendermint Core. Tendermint is the most (and only) mature BFT consensus engine in existence. It is widely used across the industry and is considered the gold standard consensus engine for building Proof-of-Stake systems.
- The SDK is open source and designed to make it easy to build blockchains out of composable modules. As the ecosystem of open-source SDK modules grows, it will become increasingly easier to build complex decentralized platforms with it.
- The SDK is inspired by capabilities-based security and informed by years of wrestling with blockchain state-machines. This makes the Cosmos SDK a very secure environment to build blockchains.
The best way to start building for Polkadot today is to build your blockchain with the Substrate development framework.
Substrate providing the following features:
- Architected on industry-standard WebAssembly
- Highly extensible Libp2p networking
- Rust-based primary implementation for speed and reliability
- Wasm WebAssembly interpreter, written in Rust
- WebAssembly smart contracts
- Multi-level permissions
- Encrypted transactions and state
- Limiting to asynchronous calls optionality
- Account-level locking
- Governance tools and methods such as stakeholder referendums, approval voting, and qualified abstention biasing
Map SMART + MATE System
The equivalent to Cosmos and Polkadot for MAP is called SMART + MATE. SMART stands for Sustainable MAP RunTime Env, is a key component of the MAP. It can be used to build a standard public chain in modularity fashion while providing a smart contract platform for electronic cash payment and other application chains. MATE (MAP Application Tool Environment), which is used for doing MAP blockchain development with in-build consensus module, interoperability module, libp2p module, and other modules.
SMART includes the following components:
- MAP-VM: a trusty-worthy WebAssembly virtual machine
- Delta Language: Smart contract language suitable for SMART development
- Runtime: Runtime environment based on MAP VM.
Based on SMART implementation, MarcoPolo can provide the scalability of the interactive chain and introduce other assets on the chain. The payment system built on SMART has tens of thousands of TPS throughput in the real network environment, and the confirmation time can be reduced to 2–3 seconds.
Although this article is long and detailed, it is still not exhaustive. The article mainly discussed the differences in Cosmos, Polkadot, and MAP in Architecture design level, Consensus Level, and Development Toolkit level. The differences between Cosmos, Polkadot, and MAP are difficult to grasp and have many nuances which I may have missed. It was surprisingly difficult to get a full picture of these three awesome projects and sometimes documentation changed from day today. All projects are still in their infancy and will greatly evolve over the next year — I believe some points which I have raised may become invalid soon.
Last but not least, let us have a comparison table, which will give the audience a quick glance to finish this article.
· MarcoPolo Protocol Medium (For the latest articles)
· MarcoPolo Protocol GitHub (For the complete codes)
For more information, visit marcopolo.link