IOTA Drops Long-Standing Principles with Chrysalis Upgrade

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The IOTA protocol, a distributed ledger technology (DLT) project backed by the IOTA Foundation, announced that it had undergone a series of upgrades. Referred to as Chrysalis, this update reportedly forced the developers to drop some of IOTA’s long-standing principles. 

Chrysalis, as explained in the unveiling, is an intermediate step that needs to be taken before the IOTA network removes the Coordinator, the centralized server that establishes checkpoints in transaction histories. Known as the “Coordicide” initiative, the IOTA Foundation needs to remove this protocol, which runs on a Blockchain-less structure to achieve a scalable and permissionless distributed ledger technology. Notably, the IOTA Foundation refers to this plan as the death of the Coordinator. 

However, just like Ethereum’s much-awaited Serenity, Coordicide needs to acquire massive academic support before it can be completed. Dominik Schiener, the co-founder of the IOTA Foundation, explained that it is the very reason why they have to implement the Chrysalis upgrade. Notably, each new feature on the list had been discussed thoroughly and was able to achieve consensus within the community. He also revealed that they have to implement radical changes to the project’s core protocol to make way for more significant opportunities.  

Notable Chrysalis features

As briefly explained by the IOTA team, they would integrate Ed25519, a cryptographic signature scheme, with the network’s current WOTS scheme. Although it would somehow downgrade quantum computer resistance, this new technique is considered as a more practical approach since users would be permitted to reuse the same address. Furthermore, the team boasts that this method would shrink the size of transactions, meaning there would be an increase in the network’s TPS (transaction per second) rate. Notably, the company’s corporate partners, as well as the community members, are in full support of this upgrade.

Schiener also revealed that IOTA is planning to issue tokens. To achieve this goal, the team has to make two significant changes. First, they need to make transactions atomic. Second, they need to adopt the UTXO model. 

As explained by Schiener, UTXO can make a ledger representation clearer, safer, and faster. The plan is to combine this model with Atomic Transactions to remove bundle constructs, which would ultimately make the job of the core software developers much more straightforward. He also emphasized UTXO’s biggest advantage, the “colored coins.”

Ethereum presents itself as a primary token platform; however, Schiener shares that he also sees a promising future for IOTA-based tokens. 

Another significant upgrade reportedly involves the project’s fundamental architecture. Currently, the transactions on the IOTA network are encoded as trytes, a combination of ternary bytes. Unlike most computers that use binary structure, trytes utilize base-3 arithmetic, hence the name. 

According to Schiener, this setup had been pre-planned as they believe that Moore’s Law would end and that they need to explore new chip architectures and ways to compute. However, he admitted that using ternary-based hardware on binary computers often causes inefficiencies due to complicated conversion steps. To avoid further problems, IOTA decided to go back to using standard binary representation and focus on conventional hardware in the next three to five years. 

Notably, there are minor features as well that are designed to enhance the network’s security and performance. According to Schiener, the IOTA network expects the Chrysalis upgrade to be completed in the second quarter of this year, with Q3 being the maximum time frame. 

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