Blockchain scalability refers to the ability of a blockchain network to accommodate the increasing demand for transactions and network nodes. Lack of scalability in blockchain networks is hindering their widespread adoption by businesses and industries. It is a crucial aspect of blockchain technology that needs to be addressed for its further development. A scalable blockchain should be able to handle growing usage without compromising its performance.
However, it’s important to note that the blockchain trilemma paradox states that increasing scalability may come at the cost of decentralization and security. Scalability is necessary for blockchain networks to effectively compete with centralized platforms.
Three Key Properties of Blockchain Scalability
Blockchain scalability can be divided into three main areas: execution, storage, and consensus. Improving one property often requires improvement in other properties as well.
Blockchain execution refers to the computing power required to process transactions and state changes. Transactions are validated, signatures and token balances are checked, and state changes are computed to reflect the transactions on the ledger. The scalability of blockchain execution is often measured in transactions per second (TPS).
However, the real challenge in improving execution lies in increasing the number of calculations per second without affecting the hardware requirements of full nodes that verify blocks.
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Blockchain storage refers to the space needed by full nodes to save and store a copy of the ledger. Block data and historical data are the two main types of storage used in blockchains. Block data contains a list of transactions and metadata, while historical data includes all individual transactions.
The global state of a blockchain, which is necessary to validate incoming transactions, can be considered its database. State is often stored in tree structures, but as the ledger and related storage grow, state computation becomes slower and more costly. This can lead to state bloat, making it harder for full nodes to stay synced and for users to sync new full nodes without hardware upgrades.
Blockchain consensus is the process by which nodes in a decentralized network reach an agreement on the state of the blockchain at any given time. The main objectives of consensus are to ensure finality and secure an honest majority.
The main challenge in improving consensus is to achieve finality more quickly, cheaply, and with higher trust minimization in a stable and accurate manner.
Blockchain scalability is a rapidly evolving field, with numerous solutions being developed, tested, and put into use. The focus on scaling while maintaining trust reduction is making blockchains more scalable and positioning them as the preferred backend for various industries and use cases.
With the help of skilled engineers and innovations such as DAGs, blockchain scalability will continue to improve and drive widespread adoption.