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Blockchain Semantics Blog Sidechains Will Help In Scaling Blockchain

Sidechains Will Help In Scaling Blockchain

By Viswanath Kapavarapu | June 21, 2018, 2:54 p.m. GMT

This post is the next in a series about improving the scalability of blockchain.

Previously we have talked about sharding, state-channels, and lightning networks to improve the transaction throughput of the Ethereum blockchain. In this article, we shall discuss sidechains and how choosing the right kind of sidechains can help us solve the scalability issue.

Concerns about implementing Sidechains:

Although state channels are aimed to reduce the total number of transactions required for a DApp, they still don’t address the high confirmation times concerning Ethereum blockchain. Sharding when implemented does solve the latency, however, it is at least a year away from full-fledged implementation. So how do we make the Blockchains more scalable? By using sidechains.

What are Sidechains?

A sidechain is a separate blockchain attached to a parent blockchain, where the operations (transactions) determine the actions on the parent blockchain. The parent blockchain is referred to as the ‘main chain’ and all additional blockchains are referred to as ‘side chains’ or ‘child chains’.

How do Sidechains help in scaling?

The problem with public blockchains like Ethereum is that transactions are executed one after another. This is particularly necessary to prevent double-spending attacks. However, gaming DApps require constant micro-transactions and if executed sequentially, creates the slow user experience. 

The idea of sidechains is to help these DApps scale by initially processing transactions on smaller chains. Once the transaction sets are confirmed on the sidechain, it is later reconciled to the main blockchain. Because of parallel processing, the user experience for transactions on an application-specific sidechain would be like any other game where the user is unaware that the game is running on a DApp Chain.

However, since a sidechain depends on a smaller number of "validators" to record their transactions into the ledger, users need to sacrifice decentralization and security partly in exchange for faster transaction processing.

Current sidechain platforms

  • RootStock

Rootstock has created a sidechain with bitcoin blockchain. The idea is to enable bitcoin to have smart contract capabilities and make payments much faster.

  • Zombie Chain

Loom Network launched a sidechain specifically for gaming and social networking DApps, known as Zombie Chain. In order to use Zombiechain, developers need to make a monthly payment to the company. Zombiechain would allow for the creation of a separate sidechain for each DApp.

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