Interviews 2 April 2018Jasmine Solana
Terab project takes on Bitcoin BCH toughest challenge—managing UTXO dataset
To be competitive in the global payment space, cryptocurrencies need to scale to the level of transactions that traditional payment networks can provide. On-chain scaling is the only option that can make Bitcoin accessible to billions of people worldwide. Needless to say, scaling on-chain is one of the most important challenges for Bitcoin—and one that Lokad CEO Joannes Vermorel is meeting head-on with the Terab project.
In an interview with CoinGeek.com, Vermorel described the Terab project as “an ambitious project” that that targets to address the most difficult scaling problem of Bitcoin: managing unspent transaction outputs (UTXO) dataset.
“You can think of the UTXO as all the ‘spendable’ Bitcoins,” Vermorel said. “As the number of users grow, this dataset grows as well, which is expected and fine. Nowadays, we have tremendously capable computing hardware; however, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only Bitcoin that is sticking to the original vision of harnessing this processing power to onboard all of humanity, instead of artificially restricting adoption to a few.”
In a blog post, titled “Terabyte blocks for Bitcoin Cash,” Vermorel explained how 1TB blocks are viable on the BCH chain. A single terabyte block, added every 10 minutes, can contain about 4 billion transactions, and provide capacity of 7 million transactions per second. However, with such a massively scaled BCH network, developers will need to figure out how to optimize the UTXO database maintained by nodes to prevent BCH double spending.
This paved the way for the Terab project, an open source initiative backed by blockchain technology research and development specialist nChain Group and CoinGeek.com owner and Antiguan-based entrepreneur Calvin Ayre, who has pledged up to €3.6 million in funding.
Talented software engineers needed
One of the Terab project’s goals is to deliver a standardized microservice API and high performance single node, multi-node and distributed software implementations that are progressively capable of supporting the throughput required for 1GB and then 10GB blocks, laying the groundwork for similar implementations that can support TB size blocks. To achieve this, Lokad is forming a team who will develop the Terab software, which will be made available for usage under an open source license, but only for usage on the BCH chain.
Vermorel admitted that it takes time to ramp up “a great team.” Currently, the Terab team has already hired five software engineers, four of whom are scheduled to start in June. The team is also looking for a technical writer, who will make the project accessible to the dev community.
“More than ever, we are looking for talented software engineers. We primarily seek people who passionate about their craft and who care about produce excellent software pieces. If you happen to be interested by Bitcoin, it’s nice but it’s not a requirement either. The project itself is tough big data challenge; and it’s the opportunity to learn how to design an open source system both tremendously scalable but also incredibly reliable,” Vermorel said.
Internally, the Terab team has already made a lot of progress on many internal pieces of the project, although it’s still too early to publish the code, according to Vermorel. The team had also gotten feedback from leader Bitcoin teams regarding the API of the Terab microservice, which he said is important to make sure that drop-in replacements for Terab will remain possible.
“We want to have a first version of Terab released before the end of the year,” Vermorel said. “Bitcoin is already getting an upgrade to 32MB block in May. There is no urgency, the existing Bitcoin implementations can scale smoothly to blocks that are significantly larger. Terab will only start to become relevant when blocks start to grow to hundreds of MBs. However, considering the tremendous adoption rate of Bitcoin, we should work swiftly in order to make sure that Bitcoin remains forever usable with very low fees. Failing to do that, Bitcoin would face gigantic fees just like what regularly happens now with Segwit-coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by most).”
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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