Scalability has long haunted blockchain. As user activity and dApp development continue to increase, transaction times rise alongside fees, creating a constant pain-point for users and developers.
EOS claims to offer solutions for the scalability bugbears that have plagued other blockchain platforms, most notably Ethereum (ETH). Delegated Proof of Stake (dPoS), which gives network control to twenty-one block producers, allows the network to scale – currently to approximately 1,000 transactions per second (tps) – and facilitate feeless payments. Block producers are rewarded from newly-minted EOS tokens, rather than funds from users’ wallets.
But one of EOS’ major downsides is the ever-increasing high cost of RAM. In order to handle millions of transactions per second – EOS’ ultimate goal – the network requires an ultra-fast infrastructure that heavily relies on RAM – Random Access Memory – to store information on new EOS user accounts as well as on active network dApps.
As EOS expands so will the network require more RAM. This itself is easy to do. EOS users can purchase RAM from the EOS system itself, in exchange for EOS tokens.
But it isn’t cheap. And teams looking to build an effective dApp can spend thousands. Prices aren’t stable. The less RAM available on the market, the higher the market price. Developers behind the EOS game, PandaFun, reportedly had to spend $65,000 worth in EOS last year to purchase a sufficient amount of RAM.
For a time, the market-based approach – as opposed to the fixed-price approach – created a way for speculators to profit from hoarding RAM. Shortly after the Mainnet launch, the prices skyrocketed as speculators bought most of the available RAM, selling it at a premium to dApp developers.
Today, 1 MB of EOS RAM currently costs around 55.6 EOS (~$130) at the time of press.
LiquidEOS designs a solution for EOS RAM issues
So up until September of last year, the high-cost value of RAM limited the capability of dApp developers and slowed the pace of adoption of EOS. To mitigate the rampant costs of speculative RAM markets, 15/21 block producers voted to reduce the cost of new EOS accounts from 4 kibibytes to 3 KiB.
That in itself isn’t enough. Block producers lowering RAM costs is responsive to the needs of developers in the ecosystem, but it also highlights how centralized EOS is. There’s nothing stopping a majority of block producers voting to raise costs at a later date.
Now, LiquidEOS is an Israel-based R&D center, and EOS Block Producer, has an alternative solution. Through the introduction of vRAM, LiquidEOS hopes to offer RAM at a lower cost through a means which doesn’t depend on consensus from the block producers.
vRAM is an alternative solution for data storage on EOS that is, “RAM-compatible, decentralized, and aims to store and retrieve data affordably and efficiently.” Rather than dApp developers having to purchase more RAM for every new user who registers, LiquidEOS will allow more RAM to be purchased with its DAPP tokens. It will, however, minimize the amount required by only storing essential data on the blockchain.
The less RAM required, means lower costs for dApp developers, removing significant financial barriers to development on the EOS ecosystem. LiquidEOS believes that in order “to optimize for both scalability and decentralization, blockchains must be designed to store the minimum amount of information needed to verify future transaction validity.”
By storing data offchain, and only utilizing RAM resources when absolutely necessary, vRAM hopes it could become an affordable solution; “the critical backbone of dApps.”
There’s more than vRam
This isn’t LiquidEOS’ only contribution. It has also built an EOS voting portal, allowing EOS users to cast votes every week for their favorite block producer.
The team has also released a step-by-step DIY guide on building an EOS hardware wallet, and partnered with BancorX, to allow users to purchase and sell EOS tokens directly on the EOS platform. Not to mention, its dApp Network allows developers to run decentralized applications much more easily.
But the development of vRAM – slated for launch later this month – will be a technical solution that allows dApp developers to build on the EOS blockchain, while at the same time minimizing costs associated with on-boarding each and every new user as well as in launching an application.
If it catches on, the EOS ecosystem will be the main beneficiary.
The author is invested in digital assets, including ETH which is mentioned in this article.