nLab high performance distributed ledger

Bitcoin with only about 8 transaction per second (TPS) and also big latency times (for final confirmations) is not very suitable for most blockchain applications. Similarly with most early generation distributed ledgers. Important things for performance include also the efficiency of virtual machine employed (trend is that the newest projects go toward versions of WebAssembly VM).

Faster and even scalable solutions are now in works. We first describe improvements on Bitcoin and Ethernet networks in the form of lightning and plasma networks on top of those, and then various projects which claim to be scalable, “3rd generation” etc. Essential improvements are various algorithms trying to go beyond linearity of classical blockchain projects, especially those relying on DAGs (directed acyclic graphs) and on so called sharding. As far as consensus algorithms there are scalability improvements with many new algorithms, while PoW is in a way most secure (for public blockchains).

While mining is computationally intensive it is considered that the optimizations with use of GPU and ASIC hardware are bad forces of centralization (not to mention unhealthy and energy consuming chase for success with single purpose hardware). It is considered better to use computational resources for more useful work like validation of smart contracts, security of computation, cryptographic tools for privacy protection and so on. With FPGA the situation is a little better, and some FPGA are claimed to be useful for smart contract processing and alike, see here there are also Chaincode virtual machine-specific ASICs by

Lightning network

Bitcoin solves some of the problems with so called lightning network on top of it, which makes temporary transactions with lots of intermediate transfers only off chain and only small footprint on the main chain, ensuring small price of transactions.

  • Joseph Poon, Tadge Dryja, Lightning Network, pdf Mar 2015.
  • A van Wirdum Understanding the lightning network 1 2
  • Amazon using lightning network for e-commerce, April 2019 news

Ethernet improvements and plasma

Ethernet recognizes the same problem as Bitcoin, but has significant plans of substantial upgrades of its Mainnet, namely the new Casper protocol, plans for deployment of WebAssembly virtual machine and sharding which, according to Buterin, could together bring million TPS when all employed as planned.

In addition, there is an analogue algorithm to lightning network targeted to Ethereum, with substantial new ideas in the algorithm, called plasma network.

  • Joseph Poon, Vitalik Buterin, Plasma: scalable autonomous smart contracts pdf draft whitepaper

There are several realizations of plasma, mostly used being the Loom network.

Projects based on DAGs

There are several major algorithms. Several projects are based on “hashgraph” paper

  • Leemon Baird, The Swirlds hashgraph consensus algorithm: fair, fast, byzantine fault tolerance, pdf (May 2016); Hashgraph consensus: detailed examples pdf; Overview of Swirlds Hashgraph: An Introduction To The Hashgraph (SDK Available Now) online

including Hedera which claims 50000 to 500000 TPS tested,

  • Hedera Hashgraph whitepaper pdf; intro to whitepaper web;

then so called Consensus project etc.

Somewhat similar but with a new innovative algorithm is Tolar Hashnet, see whitepaper pdf with around 150000 TPS achieved on testnet and low power consumption.

Another kind of scalable algorithms using DAGs is the tangle blockchain (of the iota project)

  • Serguei Popov, The tangle pdf, 2016

Telegram Open Network

Telegram (see FAQ and wikipedia) is developing Telegram Open Network (TON) centered around a new generation blockchain project. Besides the blockchain and user interfaces, including on Telegram, it will contain analogues of other parts of the internet structure including TON proxy, TON DNS and TON storage. The blockchain uses delegated proof of stake with a number of innovations including infinite sharding paradigm and instant hypercube rooting. The whitepaper predicts that the platform will be able to support millions of TPS (private access to testnet allegedly given in April 2019). For more details see Telegram Open Network in this wiki and original

  • TON whitepaper, 23 page pdf, mirrors pdf pdf
  • Nikolai Durov‘s 132-page technical overview Telegram Open Network, Dec 2017 pdf, mirror pdf; Telegram Open Network Blockchain, Sep 2018, 121 pp. pdf; Telegram Open Network Virtual Machine, Sep. 2018, 148 pp. pdf


Australian academic RedBelly blockchain (also referred as CSIRO) has confirmed 40000 TPS with Amazon platform worldwide testing. Since mid 2017 it had local tests which could achieve up to 400000 but with all nodes in the same location; see the paper about various performance experiments (the largest performance experiment, with measuring various parameters, with up to 1000 nodes in 10 countries!),

  • Concurrent Systems Research Group, University of Sydney, Data61-CSIRO, The Red Belly Blockchain Experiments, pdf

and selection of news. The academic group behind the projects has also a number of interesting research papers.

MIT Vault


Algorand project, founded by a group at MIT lead by S. Micali, claims 1000 tps and latency of only 5 seconds in a setup with 10000 participants and 500 nodes on testnet world wide. It got 62 M dollars equity funding in 2018 (news) and is issuing Algos coins in auction in June 2019, news. Undergone security audits from Trail of Bits and NCC. While the first prototype in 2016 has been coded in C++, the full implementation is in Golang, see github. The underlying algorithms are described in

  • Yossi Gilad, Rotem Hemo, Silvio Micali, Georgios Vlachos, Nickolai Zeldovich (MIT CSAIL), Algorand: scaling Byzantine agreements for cryptocurrencies, pdf
  • Jing Chen, Silvio Micali, Algorand, arxiv/1607.01341
  • github/algobet/kirin - Official javascript framework of the Digital Asset Platform (DAP) protocol atop the POS/POR consensus mechanism. Kirin is the Quarkonium’s first generation constitutional protocols deeply built with the Algorand blockchain
  • S. Gorbounov, Algorand releases first open-source code: verifiable random function, medium
  • Announcing full open source availability of the Algorand blockchain june 12, 2019 medium

Other projects which claim to be very fast or scalable

  • bitconch claims 120000 TPS
  • Futurepia uses Double Delegated Proof of Stake. “KOLAS (Korea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme) has assessed and certified FUTUREPIA’s Social Media Mainnet transaction speed as 300,000 TPS”.
  • EOS is a high performance blockchain using WebAssembly virtual machine for smart contracts. claims speeds up to 300000 TPS. claims speeds up to 300000 TPS. EOS technical white paper v2 (March 2018) is at github, md.
  • NEO “smart economy” claims 1000-10000 TPS with plans to go to 100000 in 2020
  • Ripple XRP blockchain has over 1700 TPS in regular usage. They claim to test speeds up to 50000
  • devv algorithm of uses massive sharding and the claims are to test-support up to 8 million TPS (Jan 2019) news, whitepaper “Devvio’s approach emphasizes maintaining only representations of value on the blockchain, with non-essential processing occurring off-chain”
  • mimblewimble cryptocurrency protocol is focused on privacy and also created to be pretty scalable and very secure (even in comparison to bitcoin) with less computer power for PoW, while more suitable for GPUs than ASICs. There are two leading implementations, Grin and Beam. Grin is coded in Rust, see github.
  • thundercore (see also description at medium) is EVM-compatible blockchain with some claims on scalability

There is a theoretical proposal to scale up by 3 orders of magnitude by the BlockReduce algorithm “which only segments consistency”. The paper shortly reflects on other approaches

  • K. J. Kreder III, BlockReduce: scaling blockchain to human commerce, arxiv/1811.00125

Last revised on June 14, 2019 at 13:09:09. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.