Cosmos is poised to begin a new era for blockchain technology by creating a network of chains, united by open-source tools to streamline transactions between them. An internet of blockchains.
The project identifies three core areas of improvement for the present-day blockchain ecosystem:
- Scalability: Proof-of-Work protocols are slow, expensive and difficult to scale up. DApps built on top of Ethereum are inhibited by a shared rate of 15 transactions per second.
- Usability: Blockchain applications are complex and difficult to understand for developers.
- Interoperability: Blockchain economies operate in isolation and cannot transfer assets between each other.
Cosmos’ vision is to make building blockchain projects easy for developers and break the barriers between blockchains by allowing them to transact with each other.
This vision is achieved with the following tools, each designed to remove the limitations of present-day blockchain technology:
Scalability: Tendermint BFT
Until recently, building a blockchain project required building it entirely from the ground up. Ethereum simplified the development of decentralized applications by providing a virtual-machine blockchain on which anyone could deploy custom logic in the form of smart contracts.
Tendermint BFT packages layers of a blockchain into a generic engine, allowing developers to focus on application development as opposed to the underlying protocol.
Usability: Cosmos SDK
Tendermint BFT reduces the development time of a blockchain from years to weeks, but building a secure blockchain application over it remains a difficult task. This is why the Cosmos SDK exists.
The Cosmos SDK is a framework that simplifies the process of building secure blockchain applications on top of Tendermint BFT. It is based on two major principles:
- Modularity: The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to create an ecosystem of modules that allows anyone to build application-specific blockchains without having to code each bit.
- Capabilities-based security: Capabilities constrain the security boundaries between modules, enabling developers to limit the scope of malicious or unexpected interactions.
Interoperability: Inter Blockchain Communication (IBC) Protocol
Cosmos connects blockchains using the Inter Blockchain Communication Protocol, a TCP/IP-like messaging protocol for blockchains, allowing heterogeneous chains to transfer value or data to each other.
Cosmos proposes a modular architecture with two classes of blockchain: Hubs and Zones. Zones are heterogenous blockchains and Hubs are blockchains specifically designed to connect Zones together. The Cosmos Hub, a proof-of-stake blockchain, is powered by its native ATOM cryptocurrency.
When a Zone creates an IBC connection with a Hub, it can automatically access every other Zone that is connected to it. As a result, each Zone only needs to establish a limited number of connections with a restricted set of Hubs.
The Stargate upgrade is set to accomplish this in 2020. For the first time ever, Cosmos blockchains will be able to connect with each other. You can learn more about Stargate at Cosmos’ AMA on September 10th. Register and learn more here
Still confused about Cosmos? Watch this 2-minute explainer and learn more about Cosmos, from the team itself:
For more regular updates from the Cosmos team, you can follow blog.cosmos.network, which includes tips and tutorials on the network and its evolving technology.