Sidechains: Same Same, but Different
For today’s article, we decided to provide an overview of different platforms that, as Lisk, have at least a part of their project focused on sidechains.
The concept of sidechain first appeared in 2014.
Just to make sure that we all on the same page, let’s first define what a sidechain is:
Sidechains are emerging mechanisms that allow tokens and other digital assets from one blockchain to be securely used in a separate blockchain and then be moved back to the original blockchain if needed.
Their functionality has tremendous potential to enhance the capabilities of existing blockchains, enhancing output and making easier to work on the original blockchain. There can be infinite sidechains, each focused on different tasks, bringing alive the vision of a world with thousands of blockchains (and even more sidechains).
Every sidechains is, in fact, its own unique blockchain, as they operate independently from every other sidechain. What happens on a sidechain will have, in fact, no bearing on other projects. This is the main contribution they have in terms of blockchain scalability. In addition, sidechains can also be used to try unstable softwares or DAPPS without putting other projects at risk and they can be customised for the specific requirement of their projects – consensus, block size, fees; all can be customised.
In order to have an overview of news and updates related to sidechains and Lisk, feel free to take a look at our relevant articles.
But let’s go back to us: Lisk is not the only project that is trying to capitalise the utility of sidechains.
How are other blockchain companies implementing sidechains in their projects?
We focus on three main projects: ARK, AELF and POLKADOT.
The value proposition of ARK is to create a whole ecosystem of linked chains that can work in endless different use-cases, making ARK a particularly flexible and scalable system. ARK uses a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism.
In order to do so, different chains will communicate thanks to SmartBridge, the technology allowing them to connect with each other. This empowers every blockchain project to enhance their resonance and their power, reaching greater audiences.
The SmartBridge communication happens using a special data section, called Vendor Fields, and through special nodes, called Encoded Listener. We don’t analyze it in detail – if you wish to know more please feel free to check ARK’s dedicated section on SmartBridge.
As it emerges from the project, ARK’s value proposition is highly focused on sidechains and their vision of interconnected chains. The ARK team recently releases their Mainnet v2, updating the older version.
AELF has the aim of becoming a highly efficient blockchain architecture, creating a Linux-type ecosystem for blockchains. The scope of it is to allow developers to customize chains to meet their own needs – such as commercial requirements for various industries. AELF main chain uses a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus mechanism.
1. Main Chain and multi-layer Sidechains. One chain is designed for one use case, distributing different tasks on multiple chains and improving processing efficiency;
2. Communication with external Blockchain systems (such as Bitcoin and Ethereum);
3. Parallel processing for non-competing transactions and cloud-based service;
4. Basic components of minimum viable Block and Genesis Smart Contract Collection for each Chain, to reduce data complexity and achieve high customization;
5. Permission for stakeholders to approve amendments to the protocol, including redefining the Consensus Protocol; Permission for Sidechains to join or exit from Main Chain dynamically based on Consensus Protocol, and therefore introduce competition and incentive to improve each Sidechain
Therefore, the AELF blockchain can interact with Bitcoin, Ethereum and other Blockchain systems through messaging. Ideally, the project will form an endogenous “multi-level cross-chain structure based on cross-chain interaction, in order to share digital assets, users and information”.
The value proposition of the Polkadot network is to be a heterogeneous multi‑chain technology. Their vision is to enable independent blockchains to exchange information and trust-free transactions via the Polkadot chain, with the key tenets of scalability, governance and interoperability. By doing so, they wish to contribute to a true decentralization of the web.
Polkadot is built to connect private/consortium chains, public/permissionless networks, oracles and future technological developments yet to be created in the Web3 ecosystem. It is a protocol that, unlike internet messaging protocols (e.g. TCP/IP) also enforces the order and the validity of the messages between the chains, introducing features such as interoperability among independent blockchains and therefore allowing scalability by creating a general environment for multiple blockchains.
It consists of three main elements:
As it becomes clear, Polkadot uses sidechains to allows independent blockchains to exchange information, a value proposition quite different than Lisk.
This article provided an overview of how different projects are envisioning sidechains as a useful tool to improve current blockchains. It is very interesting to (although superficially) analyze how different projects employ the same feature to boost or enforce their value proposition.
The concept of sidechains is indeed very interesting and useful for the whole blockchain sector – it can enhance interoperability and scalability and allow different chains to be developed to fulfil precise tasks. Lisk is one of the projects trying to do so, along with the mentioned projects.
These companies are working relentlessly on their projects and we will soon be able to assess which of their vision will take shape!