What is Horizontal Scalability?

There are many different ways to make cryptocurrecy scale. The bigger question is which of these solutions will be the “best” option in the long run. One possible solution to the scaling problem comes in the form of horizontal scalability. It is an interesting proposal, especially when taking a closer look at how it will work.

Horizontal Scalability in Cryptocurrency?

Even though we have seen multiple cryptocurrency scaling proposals over the past few months, horizontal scalability has never been proposed. That is, until recently, as it is a new type of scaling solutions which could change the whole ecosystem as we know it. Horizontal scalability revolves around simultaneously executing smart contracts and transaction processing. In “traditional” blockchain ecosystems, such a goal would be unattainable, though.

More specifically, most cryptocurrency blockchains create a system where all applications hook into the same network. In a way, this creates a “queue” of tasks and transactions which need to be executed. The end result is network congestion, such as we have seen in both Bitcoin and Ethereum these past few months. It is evident solving these traffic queues will take a very different approach, which is why horizontal scalability is well worth considering.

Implementing horizontal scalability is not as easy, though. It requires a lot more than just modifying a few lines of the existing code base. In fact, it would require a whole new blockchain system built from the ground up, which makes it less feasible for Bitcoin and other established cryptocurrencies right now. The concept of horizontal scaling in cryptocurrency has yet to be proven as well, thus holding off is a smart move by the developers.

Right now, one project is experimenting with horizontal scaling. To do so, they built an asynchronous proof-of-stake blockchain. That is quite a mouthful, to say the least. Such an asynchronous proof-of-stake blockchain can effectively reduce transaction processing time, although it remains to be seen what the drawbacks will be. This blockchain makes use of delegated proof-of-stake, which is a consensus protocol we recently talked about in a separate article.

Horizontal scalability will also help reduce latency problems. Network blocks will be carved up into smaller pieces to avoid blockchain bloat. This allows for multiple transactions and network “commands” to be executed in parallel. Although it remains to be seen if this method can achieve endless scalability, it is an interesting method to consider. Unfortunately, a lot of the coding specifics are shrouded in mystery, which makes it difficult to guess how well this solution will perform.

Moreover, the bigger challenge for horizontal scalability will come in the form of finding end user applications. Without technical specifics, no one can start developing tools using this method. Right now, there does not appear to be a working prototype of horizontal scalability either, which is quite worrisome. It is possible this form of scaling may never amount to much, but it is good to see some people think outside of the box. Time will tell if this goal is achievable or not.

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