Technical AMA Recap: What did TOP CTO talk about our updated roadmap?
On Dec. 16, we were very honored to have TOP Network’s CTO Taylor join our telegram group to talk about TOP’s latest technical updates. Although we recently hosted a LIVE technical AMA with our engineering and product team in the Chinese community, it has been quite some time since we hosted an AMA in the English community. We appreciate each and every one of our members, and would like to spread the word in all of our global communities regarding the progress of TOP.
Moderator: Thank you for joining us, Taylor. First, can you introduce TOP’s updated roadmap to our community members?
Taylor: Currently we are working to increase the stability and performance of TOP Mainnet. An updated version of our Mainnet with slight changes is scheduled to be released soon.
We will then release a DApp for node recruitment so that community nodes can join, vote, and earn rewards through participating in our on-chain governance.
Considering the current situation of TOP Mainnet, it would be risky if we directly swap the ERC-20 tokens to native tokens on our Mainnet. That’s why we are implementing a novel cross-chain technology to support cross-chain voting and distribute dividends on TOP Chain for users holding ERC-20 TOP.
In Q1, 2020, we will migrate the communication Apps and blockchain games developed by our team to TOP Chain. These Apps will be running on our Testnet at first, but they will be ported to our Mainnet once we have completed the swap.
Last but not least, we will launch Mainnet 2.0 in Q3, 2020, which incorporates a series of new features, including side-chain technology. We will develop two side-chains for specific purposes, one of which is decentralized data storage.
Right now our smart contracts only support the LUA language, but they will support additional programming languages like Rust, JS, and more to engage more developers.
Moderator: Besides the updated roadmap, most of our community members are curious about the detailed technological innovations of TOP Mainnet, especially full-state sharding that we mentioned in our official channels. Can you explain TOP’s innovative sharding technology to our community members?
Taylor: Sure. TOP Chain is the world’s first full-state sharding public chain powered by sharding technology that supports horizontal scale-out. Each shard can achieve 500 TPS.
In terms of full-state sharding, TOP Chain scales through three types of comprehensive sharding: network sharding, state sharding, and compute sharding.
The consensus network is split into three layers: the Edge Network which provides client access points, the Routing Network which audits transactions and synchronizes state, and the Consensus Network which validates transactions sent to each shard.
State sharding manages storage across the lattice data structure, and compute sharding partitions the computation between clusters and shards to perform transaction validation in parallel.
Thanks to the comprehensive multi-layer sharding technology, TOP Chain is able to achieve horizontal scale-out to reach up to 1024 shards in total. Moreover, we can increase scalability essentially linearly by simply increasing the number of shards.
Moderator: How do we manage shards on TOP Chain?
Taylor: We implement voting in our ecosystem to ensure the security of TOP Chain.
The beacon chain committee, composed of nodes nominated according to the amount of stake they have, manages the primary selection of nodes. It sets a barrier to entry based on the amount of stake the candidate nodes have, so as to make sure the network is reliable and secure by ensuring malicious nodes will have to pay an extremely high cost to attack the network.
The network of nodes are selected by the FTS (Follow-The-Satoshi) algorithm and are assigned to perform different tasks including auditing, validating, accessing, and documenting based on their stake and reputation.
Moderator: How does TOP’s consensus algorithm make our public chain suitable for real-world businesses?
Taylor: We use a novel parallel pBFT consensus mechanism based on the traditional pBFT consensus mechanism which greatly optimizes the performance of nodes.
There are two layers of consensus on TOP Chain which helps to grant higher security: Validator nodes validate transactions, and auditor nodes audit transactions after validation. This not only allows for real-time transactions to be confirmed faster, but also enhances network security. Combined with the efforts of VRF-based leader selection, our consensus mechanism is extremely resilient to attackers.
Moderator: How do we optimize the network design?
Taylor: We have implemented a series of design choices to optimize the network, including optimization of the p2p kad network, efficient network routing and transferring protocols, efficient Gossip protocols, an automated compression algorithm to reduce network consumption, and more. We would not have been able to come up with such innovative methods without years of experience in the communications industry.
Moderator: Now we’ve learned a lot about TOP’s technological innovations. Besides the underlying core architecture, our communities are curious: What kind of tools do we provide for developers?
Taylor: We provide two types of smart contracts: platform smart contracts and application layer smart contracts.
Platform smart contracts are designed for token economics and on-chain governance in TOP’s ecosystem. Application smart contracts, which currently only support LUA, are used for DApp development, and have already been validated at the hackathon we co-hosted in Prague in September of this year.
We will also develop WebAssembly (Wasm)-based frameworks that support many more programming languages, and will provide side-chain solutions to enable the seamless interconnection between TOP and other public chains like Ethereum and EOS.
Moderator: Thanks for your introduction, Taylor. Now let’s move on to the second part to answer questions from our community members. We have collected over 50 questions through our Telegram community, but we may not be able to cover all of them due to time constraints. If you still have questions after Taylor answers all the official questions, feel free to raise your questions in the next section.
Question 1: When will TOP staking officially start, and will it launch in its final state or will it be incremental? Can you explain in simple terms how stake delegation will work for those who do not want to run their own dedicated node? Will documentation be available for this and when do you think we might see that?
Taylor: TOP Staking will officially start around January, 2020. We will release the detailed instructions about our Cross-Chain Staking program soon.
Those who don’t want to run their own dedicated nodes can participate in on-chain governance by delegating their stake to node operators. Node operators, having all the stake from their voters, will mine on our Mainnet to earn rewards, and distribute the rewards to their voters according to the proportion of votes. We will reveal the staking progress once it gets started.
Question 2: Currently TOP Chain is achieving max TPS of 31. When will we see this increase to the suggested 1000’s of TPS? How many nodes are required and is there a plan if there are too few nodes to begin with?
Taylor: Currently our Mainnet is composed of small-capacity nodes, but it can reach over 1000 TPS already. However, as we don’t have many transactions on our Mainnet right now, the TPS looks low. The TPS of 31 on TOP Scan refers to the maximum number of transactions that have occurred per second on the chain so far, not the maximum the chain is capable of supporting. At this time, the chain can handle over 1000 TPS, although there are never more than 1000 transactions being sent at any one time (yet).
Question 3: How will the Mainnet work before the token swap?
Taylor: We are implementing a novel cross-chain technology to support cross-chain mining and voting so that users holding ERC-20 TOP don’t have to swap their tokens to participate in the Staking program.
Question 4: How is TOP network convincing businesses or customers to adopt its technology? As we all know businesses are always sceptical to try out new tech.
Taylor: The reason why businesses are reluctant to try out new technologies is because novel technologies must first be validated by applications with massive userbases before a business will believe it can create value for themselves. That’s why we are creating a closed-loop ecosystem by ourselves in the early stages to generate sufficient traffic which can later be ported to third-party businesses operating on our public chain in the future.
Question 5: As for your roadmap, do you have a plan to be listed on Binance exchange? And do you expect that your roadmap will be achievable in 5 years?
Taylor: We are seeking opportunities to get listed on Binance. I believe we will definitely achieve the roadmap that I just talked about in the upcoming 1–2 years, and we will build a more diverse, mature ecosystem in 5 years.
Question 6: I would like to know something about your first DApp, the BitVPN app. Did you study the response the users received after it was released to the market? Was that a concern?
Taylor: BitVPN has over 1 million users after launch, and we got a lot of positive feedback, especially about the high capabilities of our anti-block technology along with strong privacy and security. BitVPN is very easy to use, and it is now available on the Apple App store and Google Play.
Question 7: When can I start building on TOP Network. I’ve been waiting for a long time. And what are your plans in five years time?
Taylor: Currently we are working to increase the stability and performance of TOP Mainnet. Then we will release a DApp for node recruitment. In Q1, 2020, we will migrate the communication Apps and blockchain games developed by our team to TOP Chain. In Q3, 2020, we will launch Mainnet 2.0, which will incorporate a series of new features. And we will develop two side-chain solutions and provide smart contracts that support more programming languages like C, C++, JS, GO, TypeScript.
Question 8: On moving forward through your roadmap, what are your most important next priorities? Does TOP Network team have enough fundamentals (Funds , Community , ect.) to achieve those milestones?
Taylor: Our priorities now are focusing on the reliability and security of TOP Mainnet. We have a strong team and supportive community with investors to back us up.
Question 9: One of the competitive advantages of TOP Network is the Dev team who assures speedy developments of different functionalities on TOP Network ecosystem. I’d like to know more about your organization. Were there any significant challenges that your team encountered in the past?
Taylor: TOP has three main development teams: TOP Infrastructure Team (Main Chain, Service Chain, network, storage, etc.), TOP Services Team, and TOP Applications Team (BitVPN, HiWallet, games, communications, etc.). There are also some small teams handling smaller tasks like third-party integration, tools, SDK/API, and more.
Even though we have strong development teams, building such a comprehensive ecosystem from scratch that incorporates many novel advanced technologies is definitely a big challenge.
Question 10: In retrospect, would you build your own blockchain again or build your DApps on an existing blockchain?
Taylor: Building our own blockchain turned out to be a wise decision. We still can’t find a public chain on the market that is capable of handling our DApps and their complicated business workflows.
Question 11: Since the launch of Mainnet, what are some key achievements for TOP Network? And does TOP Network have any plans to keep up with this productivity in the future?
Taylor: The TOP development team is focusing on increasing scalability, improving performance and fixing problems found on the Mainnet. Meanwhile, a few subteams are busy migrating BitVPN, HiWallet, and some blockchain games from the testnet to the Mainnet.
Question 12: Why should one use TOP Network rather than Amazon’s AWS? Is it easier to use than AWS?
Taylor: TOP Network is a public chain platform owned by the TOP community. It provides the infrastructure and services particularly designed for decentralized business. Compared with AWS, which is controlled by Amazon (a centralized company), TOP Network aims to bring more freedom, privacy and security to the world.
Question 13: How many wallets can currently support $TOP? Also do you have any plans to build your own wallet?
Taylor: We have already released our own cryptocurrency wallet — HiWallet. You can download it from the App Store and Google Play. Meanwhile, some other wallets will also support TOP, such as Hyperpay, etc.
Question 14: Why did TOP Network have to do a hard fork and what’s the advantage?
Taylor: TOP does not do hard forks unless the proposal to fork has gone through sufficient votes from the community. Unlike other PoW-based projects, we have an explicit governance mechanism for forks.
Question 15: Can you provide some insights as to the technical architecture of TOP Network?
Taylor: TOP adopts an innovative three-layer consensus network architecture to ensure the security of the Mainnet. Layer 0 is the Network Layer, Layer 1 is the Mainnet, and Layer 2 is the off-chain scaling layer to offload transactions from the Mainnet.
We are also implementing other technological innovations such as 2-layer state-sharding, 3-layer compute sharding, 3-layer network sharding, and hpPBFT-PoS* mechanism so as to ensure airtight security in TOP’s ecosystem.
Question 16: Can we use all the features of TOP Network with ERC-20 and BEP2 TOP tokens? Will there be more benefits on mainnet. If so, tell us those things!
Taylor: To ensure the security of user assets, we are implementing a cross-chain solution to support cross-chain voting and staking. The cross-chain technology will allow users holding ERC-20 TOP to earn dividends and participate. We will start the token swap in Q2, 2020. At that time, we will migrate our decentralized Apps including BitVPN and some decentralized games to our Mainnet. We will then launch TOP Mainnet 2.0 in Q3, 2020, which will have additional novel features embedded including side-chain solutions and application layer smart contracts.
Question 17: How is TOP mainnet compared with other public chains?
Taylor: TOP will have over 80 million users ported to TOP Mainnet, which will generate a huge volume of transactions and make TOP a prosperous ecosystem. This is something that none of the existing public chains are able to achieve.
Question 18: Sharding, layered, and cross-chain are the three future solutions for high-performance blockchains. TOP Network is currently going in which direction? And what are the main reasons for taking this direction?
Taylor: Good question. We are adopting all of these three technologies to increase the performance of TOP Mainnet. TOP Chain scales through three types of comprehensive sharding: network sharding, state sharding, and compute sharding.
The consensus network is split into three layers: the Edge Network which provides client access points, the Routing Network which audits and synchronizes cross-chain transactions, and the Consensus Network which validates transactions sent to each shard. State sharding manages storage across the lattice data structure, and compute sharding partitions the computation between clusters and shards to perform transaction validation in parallel.
Question 19: Why did you choose to develop TOP Network on the ERC-20 platform? What role does blockchain technology play in TOP Network?
Taylor: We didn’t develop TOP Network on Ethereum. The reason to have TOP on the ERC-20 platform before the Mainnet launch is to ensure the security and liquidity of TOP tokens.
Question 20: With more and more DAG projects appearing in the market, what advantages does Top Network have over other DAG projects?
Taylor: TOP’s consensus mechanism is hpPBFT-PoS* instead of DAG, however TOP introduces the unique two-layer lattice (linear and determined DAG structure) to process the state of accounts. In short, it is totally different from other DAG projects.
Question 21:The goal of TOP Network is to create a blockchain platform that is friendly to all businesses. So do you have users and partners who actually use your service?
Taylor: We will port our pre-existing communication applications with over 80 million users to our Mainnet. We have also established partnerships with other blockchain projects and mining service providers.
Question 22: What are the advantages of HiWallet? Does HiWallet provide any additional features?
Taylor: Most of the existing cryptocurrency wallets have limited functions and don’t provide good user experiences. TOP’s ecosystem is very big and covers many areas like gaming, exchange services, VPN etc. HiWallet is an essential component in this comprehensive ecosystem as it generates access points for all TOP DApps and will make available our existing userbase to third-party developers in the future.
Moderator: Thank you Taylor for answering the above questions. Now it’s time to open the floor for our community to ask some more questions. You can raise any questions here and Taylor will select some of them to answer.
Question 1: Why did you choose the FTS algorithm for network nodes? What are the advantages of it? Your roadmap mentioned the Mainnet Token Swap. Why does TOP need to swap? What are the benefits of swapping?
Taylor: There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding regarding the FTS algorithm. FTS is used to sort nodes based on Comprehensive Stake, which helps the decentralized system select and elect the best nodes to operate on the blockchain, thereby enhancing the security of the ecosystem.
In summary, TOP’s Multi-Chain platform consisting of TOP Chain and TOP Service Chains are designed for different business use cases, but share the same technical architecture and protocol. There is no compatibility issue at all.
Question 2: What TPS do you expect to achieve on TOP Network?
Taylor: TOP Chain allows for complete horizontal scale-out, which means it can increase TPS linearly by adding more nodes and shards. Currently, each shard can support 500 TPS, and TOP Mainnet has 4 shards with a total of over 1800 TPS. We are now focusing on improving the performance of each shard, and we expect to achieve up to 1000 TPS per shard using the AWS Medium Instance spec (the capacity of a medium AWS server).
Question 3: What are the advantages and disadvantages of PBFT-DPoS consensus?
Taylor: To clarify, the core consensus mechanism of TOP is hpPBFT-PoS*, which we call High Parallel PBFT and Proof of Comprehensive Staking (include asset, timing, credit, etc.)
Question 4: As a Multi-Chain Platform, how do you deal with the issue of interoperability. Which chains are presently allowed on your multi-chain platform and what criteria is employed in choosing the chains on your platform?
Taylor: TOP’s Multi-Chain platform consisting of TOP Chain and TOP Service Chains is designed for different business use cases, but shares the same technical architecture and protocol. There is no compatibility issue at all.
Question 5: Can you talk more about the sharding technology mentioned in TOP Network’s whitepaper? How do you ensure nodes are randomly selected in shards? And how is your sharding technology different from that of Zilliqa and Quarkchain? People in the blockchain industry generally consider sharding a very difficult task, so how do you overcome the challenges?
Taylor: Good question. From a high level, sharding technologies include state-sharding, compute-sharding, and network-sharding. For example, Zilliqa implements compute-sharding and network-sharding but not state-sharding. Quarkchain sort of implements state-sharding, but it’s not 100% state-sharding.
The goal of Ethereum 2.0 is to achieve full-state sharding which includes all of state-sharding, compute-sharding, and network-sharding, which is very similar to that of TOP. However, TOP has already overcome the associated technical challenges and achieved full-state sharding two years ahead of Ethereum 2.0.
Question 6: TOP Network is making some movement into the gaming industry. Nowadays there are a lot of competitors also working on blockchain gaming. My question is: How will TOP Network stand out from the competition?
Taylor: As you know, most of the existing blockchain games are small and more about gambling. This is because blockchains are not yet able to support the requirements of large-scale games and their associated business models. As previously mentioned, TOP is developing a closed-loop ecosystem in the early stages of the rollout. We will develop some large-scale blockchain games with good user experiences made possible by the high capabilities of TOP Chain. These Apps will bring in massive amounts of traffic and validate the gaming functions of TOP Chain along with the general scalability of the platform. Finally, any third-party developer can leverage the resources on our platform to develop their own gaming DApps. With a truly scalable blockchain at their disposal, developers will be able to build real gaming DApps like those found in the App Store rather than small-scale gambling games. The same strategy applies to communication DApps, VPN DApps, etc.
About TOP Network
TOP Network is a decentralized blockchain ecosystem composed of 4th-generation public blockchain, decentralized Apps (DApps) and decentralized communications services.
TOP Chain, the public blockchain infrastructure underpinning the entire decentralized ecosystem, is the world’s first full-state sharding public chain and a high-performance platform for large-scale DApps. Powered by an innovative three-layered ledger architecture consisting of a main chain, service chains, and off-chain ledgers, TOP Chain is capable of handling real-world business of any size and volume. TOP Chain applies technological innovations such as a two-layer lattice DAG, two-layer sharding, and a parallel pBFT-PoS consensus mechanism, making a single chain capable of processing over 300,000 transactions per second. Equipped with high TPS, airtight security, and extremely fast confirmation times, TOP Chain is a reliable platform for services demanding high-frequency transactions such as communication, gaming, social media, big data, artificial intelligence, IoT, and more.
The long-term mission of TOP Network is to build a public blockchain infrastructure for all DApps. Our world-class team of over 100 developers is striving for this goal. We have already developed HiWallet, a cryptocurrency wallet, and are currently developing a series of blockchain games and more large-scale DApps on top of the ecosystem.
Moreover, over 80 million global users will be progressively migrated from the pre-existing communications Apps — Dingtone, CoverMe, and SkyVPN — to TOP Chain, generating a huge volume of transactions and traffic to make TOP a prosperous blockchain ecosystem.
TOP Network was founded by Steve Wei in Silicon Valley in 2017, with the R&D team based in China. Steve was one of the earliest employees of WebEx in the 1990s. After WebEx, he founded Cenwave Communications, a successful video conferencing software company which was acquired by Huawei in 2010. In 2012, Steve co-founded Dingtone, a publicly listed company operating a set of communications Apps with over 80 million global users.