Zilliqa (ZIL), a smart contract platform loosely in the style of Ethereum (ETH), has launched its mainnet and is the first blockchain to successfully implement “sharding.” Through a combination of sharding and a hybrid consensus algorithm using both Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT), Zilliqa’s team claims a current transaction speed of 2,500 per second.
Unlike Ethereum, Zilliqa have no intention to transition to a Proof-of-Stake model and instead seek an “accelerated path to scalability.”
Sharding, PoW, PBFT
Essentially, sharding spares a blockchain from having to process every action or transaction on all of its nodes, and distributes the workload around its network. This method is designed to greatly increase the amount of transactions possible, and the team claim that current speeds are on the measure of 2,500 transactions per second.
According to a Zilliqa blog post from last year, the workload of a blockchain can be broken down and distributed to “sufficiently large subset[s]” of a blockchain’s computational power and nodes - thus retaining security while dividing the network’s load.
The Zilliqa chain - whose name is an elaboration of the word “silica,” the central ingredient in circuit boards, and sand - makes use of Proof-of-Work only to prevent Sybil attacks, with general consensus being performed by a PBFT style consensus mechanism. Thus it is a hybrid consensus protocol, and the team believe the upshot of this is that "Since the PoW period on Zilliqa will last for roughly 1 min every 2–3 hours, we believe that the energy footprint of mining on Zilliqa will be much smaller compared to the blockchains that use PoW to reach consensus on every block."
Until March of 2019, the new mainnet will be in a “bootstrap phase.” During this time no transactions will be processed by Zilliqa miners - even though miners will still be rewarded for their computational power. The purpose of this regime is to “ensure that [Zilliqa’s] network is protected against attacks during this initial launch period when the hash power is relatively low.”
Responding to recent rumors that Zilliqa could be in talks to supply Facebook with blockchain technology, the Zilliqa team in today’s ask-me-anything round categorically quashed such rumors.