The starting of the decentralization ecosystem was to make sure that there is do duplicity taking place while ensuring there is no need for a third party involvement. To accomplish this goal the developers came up with ‘consensus mechanism’; which helps is legitimising these transactions. That being said, this particular term has been used innumerable times this year alone, thanks to probably the biggest technical event to take place in the crypto space; the Ethereum Merge.
To put it simply, a consensus is a mechanism of providing verification to the data uploaded to the blockchain by reaching a decision among the majority of the participants and adding the block to the blockchain once the consensus has been reached. However, since the Proof of work and Proof of Stake are the most commonly used consensus, they are not the only ones available. There are various types of consensus mechanisms that exist beyond the PoS and PoW. They are as the following:
Proof of activity is a hybrid approach containing features of both Proof of Work and Proof of Stake. The mining process of PoA starts with a standard PoW where various miners try to win the competition to find the new block. When the new block is mined, the block contains only the block header and the miner’s reward address, once that is done, the system switches to PoS. Based on the header, a new group of validators are selected from the blockchain network randomly. However, this time, the validators are chosen based on the stake they own similar to PoS. The same process is followed every time a block is mined.
The Proof of Elapsed Time mechanism is used by IntelLedger. It is an open-source blockchain platform developed by Intel. The process used in PoET is similar to that of PoW but it consumes lesser electricity. The process’s algorithm uses a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) like Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) to generate a random leader (generally based on a lottery) who will generate the block and the protocol itself selects the next leader who will be appointed to build the next block. Similar to the block validating process on PoW, in PoET the validators run the TEE using their Intel SGX and each validator requests wait time from the code running in TEE. The validator with the shortest wait time wins the lottery, becomes the leader, and upon his block creation also generates proof of his block creation. The other validators can verify the block creation with the help of the proof. The wait times are generated randomly and this ensures the randomness of the distribution of the lead roles to the validators.
Proof of Capacity (PoC)
Proof of Capacity also known as Proof of Space works similarly to PoW with a slight distinction. Instead of repeated computations on each block to solve the puzzle, this mechanism makes use of hard drives (memory space) to store the past solutions. The quickest miner to solve the most recent block puzzle wins to mine the block. These stored solutions are called as plots (which contain nonces), and clearly more the plots are saved in your hard drive, better is the probability to have the best solution to the puzzle. Proof of Capacity is an eco-friendly and energy-efficient alternative to Proof of Work.
The system of Round Robin Consensus requires a certain level of trust to exist between the mining nodes. In this process, the nodes take turns to create the blocks, and in case the block is absent during its turn, the opportunity is given to any random node This process is generally used in the Private Blockchains.
Proof-of-work was the most important consensus mechanism which was ideated in 1993 in order to combat spam and other service abuses. It received its official name as Proof-of-work in 1997. It was heavily unused till Satoshi Nakamoto used it in the development of Bitcoin. Bitcoin used this consensus mechanism to create a network between peers which was further used to secure the Bitcoin blockchain. In this mechanism, the probability of receiving the reward is determined by measuring the work generated. The larger the output of the work, the greater the chances to receive the reward.
The crypto miners are required to solve cryptographic puzzles. Although this puzzle is a little difficult to solve but is easy to verify. Once the solution is found it gets broadcasted onto the network and the other nodes verify it after which the miner receives the reward. For the block to be valid, the output is expected to start with a certain number of zeroes at the beginning of the hash value called “The Difficulty”. The output gets changed by the computing power of the network. The creation of the new blocks is slowed down by the adjusted difficulty of the Bitcoin network.
Top 5 PoW tokens by Market Cap
|Name||Price (19/9/22)||Market Cap||Current Supply|
|Ethereum Classic||$29.08||$3,993,694,198||136,946,716.87 ETC|
Additional Read: Ethereum Price Prediction
In the proof-of-stake system, validators that are equivalent to miners in PoW are chosen to identify a block on the basis of the number of tokens being held by them rather than having a competition between miners to decide which block to add. This system replaces the work a miner does in PoW with the amount “staked” by the user. The network is secured by this staking structure because the potential participant must purchase the crypto asset and hold it till he is chosen to form a block in order to earn rewards.
Proof of Stake is somewhat similar to depositing money in your bank accounts where interest is generated on the basis of the duration and amount it is being held. Cryptos utilize it by allocating tokens on the basis of their Coin Age. Coin Age is the duration of time for which the tokens are held. For an instance, if 100 tokens are held for 20 days then its coinage is 2000.
In the proof-of-stake mechanism, the size of the stake decides the chances for a validator to be chosen to forge the new block.
Additional Read: What are Smart Contracts?
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This has been long awaited by the Ethereum community due to a variety of reasons but has been taking quite some time before the engineers implement the final PoS Etheruem Beacon Chain onto the mainnet. This process is being termed the Ethereum Merge – where the PoS-enabled Beacon Chain has been merged into the mainnet.
The reasons why this shift is beneficial is:
Top 5 PoS tokens by Market Cap
|Name||Price (19/9/22)||Market Cap||Current Supply|
In short, there are a few fundamental differences which set the Proof of Work and the Proof of Stake apart from each other. Below mentioned are some of those fundamentals:
Looking at the fundamental differences between the two major consensus algorithms does not negate the cons absolutely. Below are some of the Pros and Cons of the Proof of Work and the Proof of Stake consensus.
|Proof of Work||Proof of Stake|
|Enhanced security compared to Proof of Stake as miners use energy-intensive operations to add transactions to a block.||Highly energy efficient as compared to PoW|
|Offers better decentralization as the authority of managing transactions is distributed to miners.||Dramatically faster in processing transactions|
|Less likely to get attacks as mining and verifying transactions on PoW requires expert computational knowledge.||Doesn’t require special equipment like ASIC chips required for mining in PoW|
|Proof of Work||Proof of Stake|
|PoW is energy exhaustive and produces carbon footprint in abundance.||Not as proven in terms of network security as PoW|
|Requires expensive equipment and resources to run PoW operations.||Validators with a large number of coins staked can exert influence on verification|
|High network fees and slow processing time causes network congestion.||Coins in PoW need to be locked up in the smart contract and may have a lock-in time|
This transition of the ethereum Network to the Proof of Stake consensus is majorly to negate the energy consumption. With this transition, Ethereum is now an energy-efficient blockchain; which is not only saving a whole of 0.2% of the global energy, but also working towards faster block validations and more secure network! The Ethereum Developers is already working towards the next step in this transition process, the Shanghai Update!
How will Ethereum Proof of Stake work?
Bitcoin network uses Proof of Work consensus.
Proof of Stake is better than Proof of Work in the sense that it is much more energy efficient and validators do not require as intense a method before adding a block into the network.