Polkadot 2.0 Vision Explained and Tanssi’s Complementary Approach in Accelerating Appchain Adoption
At the latest Polkadot Decoded in Copenhagen, Gavin Wood, the Founder of Polkadot, delivered a watershed keynote about the future of Polkadot, which is being called Polkadot 2.0.
This new vision seeks to bring Polkadot closer to one of the original ideas behind Ethereum, that of the "world computer," aiming to provide a broad spectrum of computing power in a format that remains trustless and robust.
With this new direction, Polkadot 2.0 embarks on a fresh path, fully recognizing the power and potential of the relay chain and its parachains. The updated approach emphasizes flexibility, especially in decentralized computation distribution. Gone is the old one-size-fits-all model. Instead, Polkadot 2.0 supports a diverse computational landscape, embracing everything from temporary to high-capacity chains, all while leveraging the inherent strengths of the Polkadot framework.
How Polkadot Works Today and Opportunities for Enhancement
As Gav explained, the current model originated all the way back in 2016, when the first Polkadot whitepaper was published.
Sharding, the process of dividing a singular blockchain into multiple homogenous chains, gained significant attention at that time. It stood as a pivotal element of Ethereum 2.0 and was widely considered a solution to the challenges of scalability. However, the roadmap later pivoted to a rollup-based approach.
Polkadot positioned itself as an improvement upon the foundational sharding concept, introducing flexible, heterogeneous shards that eventually evolved into parachains. Polkadot aimed to foster an environment where shards could diversify based on various application needs and streamline communication among them using what later became known as XCM (Polkadot’s Cross-Chain Messaging Standard).
Building on this foundation, Polkadot evolved into the platform that we call Polkadot 1.0 today. Yet, even with these advancements, Gavin Wood highlighted certain issues in the current architecture that could benefit from further improvements:
The inflexible parachain auction model, which tends to drive away tinkerers in favor of large teams who are willing to deal with the marketing and fundraising aspects of securing a parachain slot.
The inefficiency of allocating a whole “core” of resources to a single parachain for the entire duration of the lease. If the parachain’s blocks aren’t filled, validators and the team will be wasting resources.
As often happens during development, the final product may be different from what was originally expected. “It turns out, when you’ve built it, you realize you’ve built something quite different to what it was you originally tried to do,” Gav said. “Oftentimes, if you’ve gotten a bit lucky or had a great team behind you, you can create something fundamentally better than what you attempted to build.”
Parachains were the focus of the Polkadot vision, but they are by now too “chain-centric.”
Thinking about Polkadot 2.0 involves the classic computer science theme of abstraction and generalization.
Polkadot 2.0: Elastic Cores for Adaptive Computing Power
At the heart of Polkadot 2.0 is a paradigm shift in how security is allocated in blockchain ecosystems. Think of it this way: traditionally, each parachain was akin to a CPU core in terms of computing power. It represented one blockchain's worth of security capacity, much like the capability of a budget smartphone.
However, with Polkadot 2.0, we're moving away from statically assigning a core to each chain. Instead, we’re embracing an elastic distribution of security resources tailored to current demands.
Appchains, for instance, may occasionally need less than one full core's throughput, so they'd "skip" several blocks, relinquishing them to other users. In other scenarios, they might either share a core with numerous appchains or even require several cores simultaneously to manage high demands.
Such adaptability in resource allocation draws parallels with the idea of “Flexible/Elastic Cores”. Here, Tanssi plays a pivotal role. Tanssi simplifies the process for developers by making it easier to define workloads and logic suitable for these elastic core configurations.
Rich and Secure Cross-Chain Interoperability: Polkadot’s New Vision
Moving beyond isolated blockchains, Polkadot 2.0 envisions a more interconnected and fluid blockchain ecosystem. Dr. Wood illustrated this with a napkin drawing, contrasting the existing Relay Chain + Parachains model to the envisaged “mesh” of cores and applications categorized into specific domains. These domains maintain their distinctness to guarantee specialization, but now they're intricately interconnected.
Enhancing this interconnectivity, Polkadot 2.0 is rolling out a revamped consensus mechanism, bolstering security, transaction routing, parachain performance, and overall user experience. Additionally, to facilitate communication between different domains, "Accords" have been introduced. Moving a step ahead of the XCM model, Accords lay down a shared set of "laws" defining inter-chain interactions.
Emphasizing the importance of community decentralization, Polkadot 2.0’s governance is transitioning towards a DAO-like structure, underscoring the community's indispensable role in genuine decentralization.
From Parachains to Appchains to ContainerChains: Tanssi’s Approach in Polkadot 2.0
Envisioning the future of Polkadot, it’s evident that flexibility is at the core. Polkadot 2.0 is introducing a new security market, signaling a departure from the traditional parachain slot auctions. This change is reminiscent of familiar cloud platforms, allowing both large corporations and small teams to flexibly secure resources according to demand.
In this evolving landscape, Tanssi's importance as an appchain infrastructure protocol is undeniable. Polkadot 2.0, with its democratized core technology and reduced appchain launch costs, requires a robust, user-friendly technological backbone – precisely what Tanssi offers.
Imagine a developer keen on introducing a novel financial application on an appchain. With Tanssi, they're liberated from lower-level infrastructure requirements, allowing them to focus on designing their unique application. A central feature of Tanssi is the ContainerChain protocol, which empowers appchains with ready-made solutions for block production, data availability, cross-chain messaging, and other integrations. Such a streamlined infrastructure expedites the deployment timeline, transitioning from a month-long journey to under an hour. This efficiency not only benefits market entry but also permits developers to allocate more time to refine their applications, amplify user experiences, and cultivate vibrant user communities.
In conclusion, Tanssi is poised to be the go-to solution for appchain development, analogous to how game developers prefer platforms like Unity or Unreal Engine. It promises a seamless, efficient, and user-friendly experience, driving Polkadot 2.0's vision of a more interconnected and adaptive blockchain ecosystem.
When Will We See Polkadot 2.0?
The new vision of Polkadot is still in the idea stage, literally existing as a presentation backed by a napkin drawing.
Parity has just delivered Polkadot 1.0 (after many 0.9.x releases), conceding the rest of the development to the community. Version 2.0, as a large upgrade that aims to radically change Polkadot’s architecture, consensus algorithm, and cross-chain communication, will likely take years to be fully implemented.
But a few pieces of this vision will likely be done a bit faster — for example, an overhaul of parathreads and the pay-as-you-go parachains to make them more practical for developers to use. These are currently being worked on, though there isn’t a definite timeline yet.
Polkadot development never stops, having already successfully tackled many of the decentralization pitfalls of building appchains. Decentralized collators, advanced work on workable light clients, OpenGov — all of these foundations were necessary to build a resilient (or unstoppable) network.
With Polkadot 2.0, the focus will be on acceleration and supporting the next trillion-dollar Web3 use case, and Tanssi will be here to help to do its part.