A Revolutionary Protocol: PoA 2.0 - World’s Greenest Consensus To Drive Sustainable Mass Adoption

2021-11-16 22:02
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After months of hardwork and effort, the arrival of Block #10653500 on the VeChainThor mainnet officially marks the upgrade to PoA 2.0 phase 1 and the first steps towards the full-form of our revolutionary protocol upgrade. While we celebrate the flawless nature of this first phase upgrade, we want to share some insights with the community about the technology and understand why it is of such significance to VeChain's future plans and why these upgrades make it the preeminent smart contract platform for enterprises, governments and community alike.

With multiple years of enterprise delivery under its belt, VeChain has established itself as the go-to for major corporations looking to adopt public blockchain. With this experience in tow, we have taken on an even greater mission - enabling true sustainability, circular economics, carbon reduction emissions, incentivised ecosystems and more. Such applications have been the dream of visionaries for decades, however, the technology required to underpin this transition to a sustainable global society has been lacking. Public blockchain, when combined with the data quality assurance capabilities of major players like DNV, create the necessary environment to automate and provide trust for such processes, removing middlemen and eliminating fraudulent data.

As one of the most eco-friendly public blockchains, VeChain provides the perfect starting point for governments and companies embarking on the green transition. VeChainThor is committed to helping global enterprises and governments achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ("SDGs") efficiently, quickly and at low cost. The PoA 2.0 consensus mechanism is a major step for us in delivering the tools, architecture and most importantly, the level of data security needed to ensure VeChainThor leads mass adoption over the next decade.

What is PoA 2.0?
In February 2020, Dr. Peter Zhou, Chief Scientist at VeChain, alongside Dr. Zhijie Ren, Senior Blockchain Researcher at VeChain, published a preprint paper titled ‘SURFACE: A Practical Blockchain Consensus Algorithm for Real-World Networks’. The paper introduced the concept of a next-generation Proof-of-Authority (hereafter referred to as PoA 2.0-SURFACE) consensus algorithm for blockchain networks. The new consensus algorithm PoA 2.0-SURFACE, is characterized as a Secure, Use-case adaptive, and Relatively Fork-free Approach of Chain Extension.

The mechanism is the first in the world to combine the strengths of the two main consensus types, Byzantine Fault Tolerance and Nakamoto Consensus while eliminating the weaknesses of each.

Described in the paper, the PoA 2.0 consensus algorithm contains three major components:
1) The VRF-based source of randomness,
2) A committee-based block producing process and,
3) A passive block finality confirmation process.


What just happened?
As described in the paper, the algorithm is proposed via two VIPs (VeChain Improvement Proposals): VIP-193 (which has also been split into two parts, of which the first part, VIP-214, has been actived on mainnet) and VIP-200. In July 2021, the Foundation launched a new public testnet with VIP-193  fully implemented. This monumental milestone paved the way towards the full enactment of PoA 2.0 on mainnet.

With the requisite steps for migration to mainnet now in place, in October 2021, the Foundation put a proposal to an all-stakeholder vote to apply PoA 2.0 Phase 1 (The VRF-based source of randomness) on VeChainThor Mainnet.

On November 16, 2021, the PoA phase 1 upgrade was officially implemented on the mainnet.

Why is PoA 2.0 the future?
PoA 2.0 is needed to meet the demands of future blockchain applications and increasing global demand. Enterprises demand data security (finality) but also need high throughput and scalability. For the first time in a public blockchain, PoA 2.0 will combine the main types of blockchain consensus to achieve the holy grail of mechanisms for the real world environment.

PoA enables our vision of building green technologies and business on a scale never before witnessed on blockchain. Global, next generation markets will come to rely on the trustless and automated nature afforded by public blockchain. For example, carbon markets arising from the drive towards decarbonisation require these traits to enable trustless international collaboration. We foresee many novel and revolutionary applications and look forward to sharing our future works in these exciting new areas.

For now, we turn our focus to the final phases of the PoA 2.0; the phase 2 and 3 consensus mechanism upgrades. In the meanwhile,  VeChain will continue to work closely with powerful enterprises, governments and development teams to dream up and develop an increasing number of sustainability initiatives, fulfilling our destiny in becoming the first truly mass adopted layer 1 smart contract public blockchain platform.