A Game of Thrones
Two of the world’s biggest dApp development blockchains in the world are awaiting upgrades that will see them improve their capabilities. Ethereum and EOSIO (EOS blockchain) combined host roughly 3 000 dApps which represents 94% of total dApps across all blockchains. However, these two blockchains are far from being friendly with one another, they are each other’s intense competition. One cannot rest until it’s beaten the other, and only once an apparent king has been crowned can there be peace.
Ethereum launched in 2015, pioneering the capability for a blockchain to develop and host decentralized applications (dApps) using smart contracts. Before Ethereum blockchains were distinctly recognized as decentralized systems for digital payments i.e. cryptocurrencies, so when Ethereum launched it opened up a whole new market that we weren’t expecting, at least not that early on. Ethereum completely dominated the market and attracted many talented developers to join the blockchain space.
Whilst this was happening there were some developers who recognized that Ethereum had limits but because there weren’t any other worthy dApp blockchains, they had to cope with what was available. It didn’t take that long though before a stream of dApp blockchains came to light. None of them really took off because they were still considered inferior to Ethereum. When EOSIO was introduced in 2017 it was the first real contender to Ethereum, not only because of its technology but also because of the person who was behind it.
Dan Larimer is the developer behind BitShares, and Steemit. Two successful blockchain projects that were unique and innovative in their own rights. For Dan Larimer those two projects had given him the lessons and experience he would need to create his most ambitious project yet – EOSIO, alongside Brendan Blumer. Ironically, EOS had its ICO carried on the Ethereum blockchain whose tokens would then later on be migrated to the EOS blockchain when it launched in June 2018.
It’s now been over a year of the ‘Ethereum vs. EOSIO battle’ and a lot has happened in this short span of time. Many ups and downs were experienced by both camps but it doesn’t seem like either of them are going to slow down anytime soon. In fact, both blockchains are looking to turn it up a notch with upcoming upgrades to their current versions. The main reasons for these updates are to further scale the blockchains. That’s because both blockchain’s are in a race to reach mass adoption first and for that to be possible they need to be able to accommodate all those people at once without any break downs. Let’s have a look at how these upgrades match-up against one another.
This is Ethereum’s proposed update to their current blockchain version. Istanbul is meant to improve upon some of the more urgent upgrades to Ethereum’s performance. This update will cause a hard-fork of the blockchain meaning an additional blockchain will be created to replace the current one. I’ve written a great article highlighting hard-forks and why the occur. The Ethereum update will come in two stages with the first scheduled for Dec 4.
Stage 1 (December 4, 2019)
This stage will introduce six proposals that focus on optimizing and reducing gas costs. Lower gas costs will make it cheaper for users of the blockchain to send transactions. The proposals also look to enable communication between Ethereum and Zcash. In other words, this means Ethereum and Zcash will be able to exchange information back and forth between their blockchains. Allowing users to move from public blockchain (Ethereum) to a private and anonymous blockchain (Zcash). The first stage will also lay the foundation for Ethereum to update from a POW (Proof of Work) algorithm to a ProgPoW (Programmatic Proof of Work) algorithm in the second stage.
Stage 2 (Q1, 2020)
Early in 2020 Ethereum hopes to update to a ProgPoW consensus algorithm. The biggest change this brings though is with mining. ProgPoW will reduce the effectiveness of the popular ASIC cards which are used in PoW mining algorithms like Bitcoin. ASIC cards are expensive for the average user due to their ability to mine bitcoin at a higher hash rate, resulting in the mining process being left exclusively to big corporations and mining pool entities.
Now with this ProgPoW change standard GPU cards will be on the same level as ASIC cards, meaning average users can join the mining process using just their standard laptops. Leading to a more decentralized Ethereum blockchain. ProgPoW looks to improve scalability by making transactions faster on the blockchain through the use of Graphic Processing Units (GPUs). GPUs can quickly adapt to changes compared to the ASIC cards currently being used.
Block.one, the company that created EOSIO, has released the code for EOSIO 2.0 for the public to test, stating that it will make EOS ‘faster, simpler and more secure’. This update looks to make the blockchain 6x faster than its current version. EOSIO 2.0 seems to cater more to the developers, giving them tools to easily and quickly build and deploy dApps. A move which clearly highlights that the blockchain is still in its development stages. Although the update is developer focused there are still features that are directed towards the user or at least beneficial to them.
Users will appreciate the benefits of EOS VM; a high performance WebAssembly that’s specialized for blockchain applications. It will improve the blockchains performance through the effective use of network resources. This means users will be able to do more with less resources staked.
The update will introduce WebAuthn authentic standards to EOS. Basically this is a feature that will allow users to securely connect to their favorite dApps without the need for 3rd party software or browser extensions. Instead users can make use of a hardware device for login into dApps and for signing transactions. Unlike Scatter or MetaMask this hardware device is portable and can be used wherever without needing to re-install software on new computers.
Developers can look forward to EOSIO Quickstart Web IDE. This isa web-based integrated development environment, basically a feature that aims to make it easier for developers to build applications whilst also lowering system requirements to do so. It can run on any browser and can be set up in minutes, taking developers “from getting started to building in minutes”, as Block.one puts it.
Currently Block Producers have a single key for signing blocks which means if the key is lost then the BP becomes inactive missing blocks. With Weighted Threshold Multi-Signature Block Production, BPs will have multiple keys to prevent a single point of failure all without sharing any sensitive data.
Looking at the proposed updates for both projects you quickly notice how different these two blockchains operate. They are also on very different stages of their life cycles with Ethereum being 4 years in operation and EOS just over a year old. It is unclear how much faster Ethereum will become after this update, but seems highly unlikely it’s going to surpass EOSIO even in its current version. When it comes to scaling, the Ethereum camp has realized PoW nor the proposed ProgPoW can do the job, thus they’re hoping to switch completely to a Proof of Stake algorithm in 2020.
EOS has a clear lead over Ethereum towards scaling. EOSIO has no fees (gas costs), is already running on a hybrid PoS algorithm and is much more scalable and faster than Ethereum. However, they’ve yet to catch up to Ethereum’s large support base. It might even be perplexing to some as to why EOS is still looking to improve its technology instead of pushing aggressively towards marketing. Focus is still heavily directed towards developers at this point. Perhaps the blockchain wants to first be able to sustain the masses we talked about earlier before it can market itself to them.
The scalability issue is a big one for Ethereum. As it is it’s operating at roughly 85% of its capacity with an average of about 700K transactions a day. A ticking time bomb and the reason why transaction heavy dApps, such as gambling dApps, have moved to competing blockchains. These new changes are hopeful to improve this situation and make it enticingly cheap for dApps to deploy on the chain. Istanbul represents the urgent need for Ethereum to pivot in order to stay competitive.
EOS on the other hand doesn’t have gas costs instead it requires users to stake tokens to access resources to be able to transact. A great liability when you consider that most new users don’t have means of buying cryptocurrencies nor the determination to do so just to gain access to a dApp. The current version, which was released a month ago, enables dApps to cover resources for their users or even get them free accounts.
Either way you look at it one thing is for certain, competition has brought the best out of these two blockchains. You can tell by the sense of pride each camp has for their blockchain that this is a battle that goes beyond technology. It’s a clash of ideologies; on how a people need to be governed and serviced by the technology, way beyond decentralization. These theories are what keeps the developers on their toes, working to turn them into practical realities with supporters casting praises of how great their technology is and why theirs will be the one to service the masses.
It won’t be very long before we get to crown a king and tell stories about the great battle that once was. At the moment this future is being played out on testnets and delivered to supporters for stress tests. Both blockchains have their upcoming updates on their respective testnets. Ethereum’s update is set to be released in Dec 4 of this year. EOSIO 2.0’s release date isn’t yet confirmed although some are hopeful that it will be before the end of the year.
We can definitely look forward to an improved blockchain system in 2020 which is really the important factor right now. We need to push the limits of blockchain so that we have a smooth running system which doesn’t ask too much of the user. But it still shouldn’t compromise on safety, security, and efficiency. Each year that goes by we inch closer and closer to this being a reality. A digital world without limits.
Thank you for reading!
Disclaimer. EOSwriter does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you with all the important information we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.