After more than a decade, blockchain has made impressive progress. Since Bitcoin introduced blockchain as a store of value in 2008, its network value once exceeded $1 trillion. Launched in 2014, Ethereum creatively introduced smart contracts to blockchain and attracted countless developers to create a rich ecology of decentralized applications. With more and more blockchain projects adopting different technical solutions emerging, the blockchain space has burgeoned in recent years.
However, the metaverse is an eternal virtual world built by numerous large-scale applications. It offers users different life experiences; they can work, create, and shop; and, they can get access to entertainment, news feed and financial services. Unfortunately, the existing blockchain platforms are still unable to support these large-scale applications that require complex computations.
At present, all kinds of so-called metaverse applications only distribute the token or NFT assets to the blockchain or only program some simple business logic as smart contracts. While the application itself and most logical calculations are deployed on the centralized servers, resulting in the digital assets that are decentralized for security are instead distributed by the insecure centralized programs. The great irony was accompanied by serious problems. Because the application is controlled by centralized institutions or even individuals, they can shut down the applications at will or modify the operational regulation; moreover, they can't prevent the application from being attacked and tampered with, which is a great threat to the security and value of digital assets on the blockchain. The users will be confronted with an extremely untrustworthy virtual world, and there is no way to fulfill the metaverse.
Imagine that, in the virtual world, you have spent a lot of time and even a lot of money to get some digital assets such as virtual identities and land to your satisfaction. But then the developer changed the game rules and your virtual identities no longer have social status and your land is no longer so scarce, and there is nothing you can do about it. Or if the application was simply shut down, the digital assets are still in your account but they are no longer usable or even visible and become worthless. How frustrating it would be! So metaverse applications that carry people's digital assets must live forever and be fully decentralized.
In that case, why can't the large-scale applications themselves such as games, e-commerce and social networks be deployed on the blockchain to make them decentralized? Although it is a popular expectation, it is limited to the architectural design of the existing blockchain system, which makes the problem exceptionally difficult:
Take Ethereum as an example. If all the computational logic in the application is written as smart contracts, even without considering the support for the traditional application development ecosystem and the limitations on the size of the contract computation provided by the development language Solidity, it would require the consensus among thousands of full nodes to confirm the final logical execution. It would be an impossible task to achieve that quickly! And each on-chain computation would cost a significant amount of transaction costs. You can hardly imagine waiting ten minutes and costing tens of dollars in execution fees for every step walking in the metaverse. No one likes the experience.
Everyone recognizes such limitations of blockchain. Under the concerted efforts of technicians in recent years, various new techniques have emerged one after another to make blockchain faster, such as sharding, sidechain, state channel, Layer 2, new consensus mechanisms, and more. These techniques have succeeded in significantly increasing the throughput of blockchain, which avoids slow transactions and high fees for the applications such as DeFi and NFT. More users have benefited from faster transactions and low transaction fees and the ecology has been revitalized.
But these techniques are no help at all when they are applied to the traditional large, complex and high-frequency computation applications of games, e-commerce, and social networks. Especially for the large multiplayer online applications, if all the computations are done on the chain, the best public blockchain can hardly handle it even if it only serves one application.
Why does this dilemma arise? The essential cause is the limitations of traditional blockchain technology architecture. As the first generation of blockchain, Bitcoin allows nodes to join freely without permission in order to keep Bitcoin decentralized. But rules are also required to make nodes accept a consistent ledger called "consensus". Bitcoin created a consensus mechanism PoW as the proof of work based on a game-theoretic model. Later, Ethereum followed the consensus mechanism and made some improvements. Under the mechanism, Bitcoin has run stably for more than a decade without the management of a central authority, which is enough to prove that it is an excellent way to achieve consensus in a decentralized system. However, due to the historical limitations, the PoW consensus mechanism ensures the security of Bitcoin and Ethereum, but its slow consensus speed and severe energy consumption can no longer meet the needs of more and larger decentralized applications for scalability.
Lots of consensus mechanisms have been created since then, such as the widely used PoS (Proof of Stake), which greatly improve the speed of consensus in a more energy-efficient way, but they all follow the path of "seeking consensus among untrusted nodes". It's just like that no matter which voting method is adopted, arriving at a common consensus among multiple people is always much slower than making decisions by yourself. It is the root cause why the decentralized application can never be comparable to a centralized application that only needs to compute on its own. Unless this problem is solved, the decentralized applications can not possibly achieve a comparable experience.
Even though the capacity expansion solutions such as sharding or Layer 2 have greatly improved the transaction speed of decentralized applications, as mentioned before, the core idea of the solutions still follows the path "seeking consensus among untrusted nodes". It leads to the persistence of the contradiction mentioned before.
Therefore, the implementation of large-scale decentralized applications with high performance is a common expectation, which is also necessary to implement the ultimate form of the Internet — "metaverse". But in the blockchain industry, fully decentralizing the large and complex applications and making them have a comparable experience to the centralized applications is a challenge. To solve the problem, we must adopt a new and different technological solution.
Besides, the metaverse should be composed of different applications, and the applications should be interoperable with each other. But the existing applications are all in a closed environment and can't connect with each other. This leads to serious restrictions on user behavior and representation and circulation of digital asset value. If the ecological and economic systems among metaverse applications can't be connected, the metaverse can't be truly realized.
In view of this, Ethanim adopts a brand-new solution, which is different from the existing blockchain platforms and completely changes the consensus mechanism in the traditional blockchain. Its architectural foundation is Trias Layer -1, a self-developed blockchain solution with more than ten years' technology accumulation in trusted computing to make nodes trustworthy. It converts the traditional blockchain implementation path "seeking consensus among untrusted nodes" into "making nodes trusted and performing computation". The speed of reaching consensus among nodes is no longer affected by the factors such as the number of nodes and complexity of computation. It solves the consensus problem of blockchain networks from the source, which makes the consensus can be reached almost instantly. It also supports unlimited horizontal scaling, which not only supports the simultaneous deployment and running of a huge number of large decentralized applications but also allows a single decentralized application to handle the large-scale user concurrency. TPS will no longer be the Achilles heel of blockchain.
More than that, Ethanim creatively modularizes XR technology, edge computing, virtual GPU, decentralized storage and other techniques, and combines them with pluggable blockchain to frame the integrated solution of the metaverse. It enables the system to extend unlimitedly, supporting the large decentralized applications to have the same performance, experience and even development mode as traditional applications. Rich assets and interoperable protocols can allow applications to be closely connected and flexibly linked to each other, forming a rich and prosperous ecosystem. It can help truly implement the metaverse.
The following sections will give you a more in-depth understanding of Ethanim.