Radix’s Radix engine, built on top of Cerberus consensus, is designed to attack the blockchain trilemma, empowering users with interoperable dApps that function frictionlessly at any scale.
The project recently launched its Olympia Betanet composed of a single shard ledger verified by 100 validator nodes. The Betanet is a developer-controlled public sandbox that will support both full and validator nodes, desktop wallets, and an explorer website. To understand why this is a big deal for Radix – and for DeFi in general – first we need to consider the problems that Radix is addressing.
The Trouble With Public Blockchains
Protocols like Polkadot, Cosmos, and Ethereum 2.0 suffer from network congestion and costly friction. This forces some to rely on sharding, which is a prominent scaling solution that splits up blockchains into multiple sub-chains, enabling “shards” to achieve consensus in parallel computation. Parallelism earns higher throughput but compromises seamless communication among shards. While scalability is achieved, composability amongst dApps is lost, resulting in poor user experience.
Inferior scalability is a symptom of blockchains lacking foresight and preparation prior to their network going live. The overhaul of their foundational principles sacrifices composability in attempts to promote usage.
How Radix Solves the Problem
Radix’s ecosystem relies on its Cerberus Consensus algorithm to validate transactions and its Radix engine to power dApps. The Radix engine is the network's execution environment that facilitates creation of smart contract logic and dApps. These smart contracts are referred to as “blueprints”, which are parameterized and developed in Scrypto which can then be used to deploy a component. These perform much like building blocks, ensuring composability, as opposed to black boxes. These are much more intuitive, allowing creators to set specific parameters to limit possible outcomes for their transactions, eliminating the pitfalls of standard smart contracts like hacks and bugs.
Cerberus is built upon the concept of “pre-sharding,” making it the first layer-one protocol built to serve DeFi. Cerberus possesses omnipotence to identify and use relevant shards employing a new form of BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerant) consensus. This approach uses partial transaction ordering rather than the universally accepted global ordering system. Its consensus processes operate in parallel, authorizing each shard to reach consensus independently as needed. Components are executed within the Radix VM, providing partial ordering that Cerberus needs to braid consensus on a per-transaction basis.
Radix’s Olympia Betanet is now live, signaling the conclusion of an arduous development period and initiating the experimentation phase of the roadmap. The Olympia Mainnet will be released towards the end of Q2 after a satisfactory QA and testing period.
What Betanet Brings
With the Radix team retaining full control over the Betanet, all transactions will be used with faux tokens. These tokens are strictly for testing and will not carry over to Olympia Mainnet. The objective of the Betanet is to stress-test the network using real world simulation. Radix wants to ensure all facets of the network perform properly, from node operation to the explorer website and desktop wallets.
To get started, users need a desktop wallet, which can be installed simply by downloading a Mac, Windows, or Linux app. The wallet includes a faucet which functions to distribute spoof XRD tokens for free. The tokens give users a blank check to use however they wish. The wallet, funded by the faucet, will enable users to store, stake and transact their tokens. Tokens can then be delegated towards nodes.
Node operators are the backbone of any network and Radix’s public network is no different. To participate in Olympia Betanet as a node operator, download the node. The node will be delivered as a Docker image. There are two common types of nodes, full nodes and archive nodes, both of which can be registered as a validator. Validators maintain copies of the ledger, respond to queries, forward transactions to other nodes, and participate in consensus. A validator is essentially a full node where the operator is “registered” with the Radix network operating in consensus. Full nodes have no restrictions on participation, but cannot participate in consensus like validators.
Putting it all together, the explorer website will present the amount of stake against each validator node, drilling down the extent of which validator nodes are staked themselves, as well as the stake delegated to the node by holders. It’s critical for stakers to use the explorer website effectively to prevent any validator from gaining too much stake and creating a point of failure of centralization. In turn, this will assist token holders with assessing the credibility of nodes by displaying the percentage of consensus rounds they have participated in.
Why Run a Node on Betanet?
Rather than testing in production, the Betanet allows node operators to simulate high stress scenarios to prepare for any issues that may occur on the Mainnet.
As a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) chain, Radix guarantees network security backed by a community of token holders delegating their stake to nodes included in the validator set.
During the Betanet, the 100 validator nodes will have control over who can run a validator. The hardware requirements for validators are considered standard and can be run on any normal computer with enough over capacity to ensure node performance is not jeopardized.
Radix’s network incentivizes its proof of stake as a form of security. Token-holders can delegate their tokens (or stake) to validator nodes and receive a portion of tokens released by the protocol. The network emissions include node operators delegating stake to their own node. Rewards to token holders and validator nodes will be dispersed at the end of every epoch.
In addition to economic incentives for validator nodes, full nodes are useful for those requiring their own trusted node as a transaction endpoint for a specific application. For example, a Decentralized Exchange (DEX) would likely want its own nodes to support token transfer requests and queries. Full nodes, which are backed by Radix, will also be running support for the Explorer Website and Desktop Wallet.
Upon completion of Olympia Betanet’s stress test, the training wheels come off and Olympia Mainnet will launch in a fully decentralized live environment.
The Olympia Mainnet will allow the network to bolster itself with token holders transacting and staking onto other nodes for network security. In Q4 2021, Radix plans to release Alexandria.
This will kick off a new DeFi development experience, using Scrypto language and Radix Engine v2. Alexandria will facilitate private environments for early builds and testing, allowing developers to experiment with components and reusable features.
Over 300 test validator applications were sent to the Radix team for the Betanet, signaling the level of curiosity within the Radix ecosystem. Those who participate in the Betanet and migrate to the Mainnet will reap the rewards of a DeFi platform that has truly conquered the blockchain trilemma.