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Alephium Launches Mainnet of its Sharded UTXO Blockchain


coingape.com 09 November 2021 12:56, UTC
Reading time: ~3 m

High-performance sharding-based blockchain Alephium is releasing its long-anticipated solution on the mainnet, bringing secure smart contracts, scalability, and energy efficiency to Bitcoin’s core technologies. 

After several rounds of internal testing, the mainnet offers immediate utility in the form of a simple to use and resilient solution that leverages Alephium’s novel Sharded UTXO Blockchain technology to build a whole new dApps programming paradigm. Primarily targeted for performance-oriented applications, the Lausanne-based startup aims to improve the scalability of public chains while offering better performance and less energy consumption. 

More specifically, the brainchild project of Cheng Wang proposes a unique approach to handle tens of thousands of transactions per second (10,000+ TPS) in an open, permissionless network. 

Alephium’s core BlockFlow algorithm combines sharding technology with Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) and employs a scalable UTXO model to upgrade the network performance during cross-shard transactions. The solution breaks down smart contracts into token protocols and data protocols, ultimately maintaining a user experience that is similar to single-chain platforms. 

Based on stateful UTXO transactions, developers can build dApps that adapt to high concurrency scenarios while simultaneously improving the Turing-complete functionalities of smart contracts. This approach transforms Bitcoin-like blockchain to accommodate innovations like DeFi, NFTs, and IoT, among others.

Alephium introduces Proof-of-Less Work (PoLW)

Meanwhile, Alephium is using a modified version of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Proof of Work consensus to ensure, among other things, a vastly reduced carbon footprint. Dubbed ‘Proof of Less Work’, the algorithm uses a combination of physical work and token economics to dynamically adjust the resources required to mine new blocks while allowing everyone to contribute to its consensus and safety. 

The mainnet launch comes barely two months after Alephium had pre-sold tokens worth more than $3.6 million to almost 80 separate investors. Led by Alphemy Capital, several reputable VC funds, including White Paper Capital and Archery Blockchain, alongside a large number of small buyers bought tokens in the pre-sale.

Commenting on the mainnet launch, Cheng Wang, Co-founder of Alephium, noted:

 “After over 3 years of development under the radar, we are proud to announce the launch of the Alephium Mainnet. It’s made to support powerful, scalable yet user-friendly decentralized applications and protocols. We welcome the community of developers and miners to join us in improving the ecosystem one project at a time.”

Mr. Wang added:

“Alephium offers a whole new programming paradigm for decentralized applications, ideally suited for performance-oriented and secure DeFI. Leveraging Alephium’s custom virtual machine, DApps can now benefit from the security offered by the stateful UTXO model without sacrificing the power and expressiveness of smart contracts”.

There are other projects that support cross-shard transactions, but forcing the total ordering of transactions negatively affects the system’s throughput and increases latency.

Alephium apparently addresses these issues of scalability through its two-layer sharding model, which significantly reduces the transaction load of each node. In particular, it reduces the usual two steps required for cross-shard transactions. 

As such, Alephium moves away from the classical PoW mining model and drops the amount of energy used to create new blocks. And with the immutability and atomicity of UTXO, the secure smart contract and novel VM help prevent malicious spending in parallel. 

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