From Code to Consensus: Next-Level Tech Innovations of SUI Blockchain

Today, we are continuing our series of articles on the Sui blockchain to reveal the technical features that set the project apart from other platforms in the fast-paced landscape of digital innovation.

If you haven't read our first article, we recommend you start with it to get into the technicalities of the project more easily.

SUI - Explainer

Stay tuned as we delve into the distinctive aspects of SUI, exploring its consensus mechanisms, object-centric design, and the unique smart contract environment powered by the SUI Move language.

How Sui Works

Imagine a blockchain that can sidestep consensus for everyday transactions, eliminating the bottlenecks that plague many contemporary blockchains. In addition, its object-oriented data representation enables parallel execution of transactions, allowing horizontal scaling.

Intrigued? Now, first things first.

Spearheaded by the forward-thinking innovators at Mysten Labs, Sui project stands out as a cutting-edge blockchain platform with a fresh approach to adaptability, scalability, and security.

Consensus Mechanism

To organize the operation of the network, Sui utilizes the widely-adopted Delegated-Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus algorithm, with transaction processing conducted by validator groups that change every 24 hours and represent active full nodes.

As the consensus suggests, a validator's voting power in the network is determined by the amount of stake delegated to them by SUI token holders. The higher delegated stake is, the more voting power a validator has. In exchange for processing transactions and conducting consensus, validators receive rewards.

You may say, "Nothing new! Most DPoS blockchains inherit the same principles", but let's not be hasty, the fun part is next.

Here we have a something special from Mysten Labs team – a mix of two powerful ideas, DAG and Blockchain!

At the high level, DAG-based consensus is a mechanism in which verification occurs at the transaction level rather than at the block level as in other traditional blockchain systems.

In the realm of blockchains and distributed ledger technologies, DAGs (Directed Acyclic Graphs) serve as an alternative to the conventional blockchain structure. Rather than forming a linear chain of blocks, these systems establish a graph of transactions. In this structure, each transaction validates one or more preceding transactions, offering the potential for increased scalability and parallel processing.

DAG, or Directed Acyclic Graph, is a computer science and mathematical concept depicting a graph with no directed cycles. In a DAG, edges have a defined direction, moving from one vertex to another, creating a non-cyclic structure. This ensures that traversing the graph along the edges' directions won't lead back to the starting vertex.

Notable systems employing DAGs include IOTA, Hedera Hashgraph, and Nano. Other networks, like Fantom and Casper, showcasing their incorporation of DAG elements within a traditional blockchain framework.

The primary advantage of the DAG-based consensus system lies in its ability to achieve high-throughput parallelization. This means that numerous transaction processes, not reliant on strict ordering among themselves, can occur simultaneously in parallel.

Next, we'll cover solutions that allow Sui to scale without an upper limit.

Scalability of Sui

Object-oriented architecture

Sui stands out from other distributed ledgers due to its hybrid model where its history is stored in objects with globally unique IDs.

Most smart contract platforms like Ethereum utilize accounts to manage the blockchain's state, holding user balances, while other like Bitcoin and Cardano employ unspent transaction outputs (UTXO) to represent the remaining asset amount post-transaction.

Unlike traditional blockchains relying on accounts as the fundamental data entities, Sui revolutionizes the approach with an object-centric paradigm. Within this framework, on-chain entities take the form of objects, meticulously shaped and regulated by smart contracts.

Sui Smart Contracts are also objects called Move Package. During transactions, the objects involved in the transaction are dynamically grouped and treated as this group.

These objects embody diverse asset types, featuring specific attributes such as unique identifiers and ownership information. Furthermore, Sui's objects showcase adaptability, allowing them to be either mutable or immutable, providing a nuanced strategy for asset management and interactions in the blockchain realm.

In Sui, objects can have four types of ownership:

  1. Owned by an address: Objects owned by a specific address are accessible only through transactions signed by that particular address. (This is common for items like NFTs or fungible tokens)
  2. Owned by another object: Referred to as child objects, these objects require transactions to be signed by the owner of the parent object for access. (For example, in gaming NFTs, a sword NFT might be owned by an avatar NFT)
  3. Immutable: Immutable objects cannot be modified or owned by anyone after creation, but they can be read. (Move Packages, such as auctions frozen after completion, fall into this category)
  4. Mutable: Objects falling into this category can be interacted with and accessed by anyone based on the access-control mechanism defined by the smart contract governing the object. (These objects need consensus for sequencing reads/writes and can enforce their access control during execution, making them suitable for use cases like decentralized exchanges (DEXs) or auctions)

Sui's object-centric model unleashes scalable parallelization for object interactions. Transactions are organized by the involved object, enabling validators to handle them simultaneously on separate machines if they're independent. This scalability boosts as validators expand their node with more machines, offering a distinctive pathway for network growth.

Magic of Parallel Processing

And now a short note on how some transactions are executed, bypassing consensus.

Traditional blockchains often face a bottleneck, requiring strict structuring of each transaction, which ultimately affects network throughput.

Sui's approach addresses this problem by eliminating consensus on objects, that are categorized as simple transactions. An example of a simple transaction would be the transfer of an asset to someone. Meanwhile, shared objects, which are classified as transactions or sets of transactions with strong interdependencies, go through consensus.

With this solution, simple transactions, being independent, can be processed in parallel without the need to maintain a strict sequence and the agreement of the entire validator pool.

Source Source

This way, Sui incorporates two distinct protocols into its design:

  • Bullshark, an innovative consensus protocol within Sui, adopts the Tusk protocol, seamlessly merging Directed Acyclic Graph technology with Byzantine Fault Tolerance.
  • Narwhal, operating as a dynamic mempool, plays a pivotal role in the Sui blockchain, serving as a synchronized repository. This mechanism significantly accelerates the validation process by granting validators instant access to all essential transaction data.

Having understood how parallelization occurs in a network, let's take a closer look at horizontal scalability.

Horizontal Scalability

Sui's horizontal scalability is a crucial aspect that enables the platform to effectively handle heightened demand across the network. Validators have the flexibility to dynamically adjust their computing power, ensuring that gas fees remain consistently low and stable, even during periods of intensified traffic.

This scalability isn't limited to transaction processing, it seamlessly extends to storage solutions, presenting a cost-effective and scalable approach.

It means that developers can create intricate, feature-rich assets directly on the blockchain. This, in turn, reduces the reliance on external storage solutions, contributing to a more efficient and cost-effective gas utilization.

In essence, Sui's horizontal scalability provides a robust foundation for sustained performance and resource optimization across various aspects of its ecosystem.

Sui Move & Smart Contracts

In the blockchain field, smart contracts refer to a unique environment focused on automated, rule-enforced transaction execution.  The Sui blockchain operates similarly, executing smart contracts written in the Sui Move language.

It's not hard to guess that Sui Move is based on the core of the Move language that was developed by Meta (Facebook) for its Diem (Libra) blockchain project.

In the beginning, Diem explored the option of utilizing existing blockchain programming languages like Solidity for their project. However, they encountered several limitations that were detrimental to the blockchain, which inspired the development of a new programming language called Move.

Since the Diem project focused on creating an advanced payment platform for digital currency supported by blockchain technology, Move was perfectly suited to this goal. Its account-based data model allowed digital assets to be owned by specific accounts. However, the Mysten Labs team's vision went beyond the Diem blockchain. They aimed to create Sui, as a more versatile network infrastructure with exceptional capabilities.

In this case, Sui Move takes a new approach by placing objects at the forefront. This choice gives Sui Move unlimited parallel transaction processing capabilities that traditional sequential blockchains cannot achieve.

With this novel design, Sui's execution environment can effectively differentiate between single-owner objects and shared objects.

Whereas the original Move relied on global storage tied to specific pairs of addresses and types, Sui Move replaces it with a global storage system based on object IDs. This shift opened the door to infinite possibilities where objects can own other objects, a concept known as componentization.

Move and other smart contract programming languages were influenced by cryptocurrencies, where the primary focus was on asset ownership, leading to an account-centric approach. The updated Sui Move paradigm, however, offers incredible flexibility in creating and managing complex and robust smart contracts, opening up opportunities to develop solid programs and engaging games that meet the expectations of the public.

Security Features

You've already aware that the Sui blockchain is based on the principle of treating everything as an object, each with its own unique metadata, ownership attributes, and characteristic reference system.

The Sui Move programming language serves as a foundational element of the Sui architecture and designed for creating efficient, secure and versatile smart contracts with a flexible approach to asset management.

While a completely secure coding language doesn’t yet exist for smart contracts, Sui Move is inherently more secure and intentionally designed to address vulnerabilities found in Solidity, including reentrancy attacks, double spending, DoS attacks, and compiler issues.

A distinctive security feature of Move is the bytecode verifier, which guarantees the validity and safety of a smart contract's bytecode before execution.

Unlike the EVM, which only performs source code verification, confirming equivalence with the bytecode but not the contract's correctness, Move's bytecode verifier is engineered to prevent the execution of malicious code that might create counterfeit coins, artificially inflate coin values, or manipulate existing coins on-chain.

Security Guarantees

  • Sui prioritizes security, ensuring robust control over assets through auditable smart contracts, allowing owners to confidently use their assets.
  • Transactions in Sui require the digital signature of the asset owner, which keeps the asset handling process secure.
  • Smart contracts define assets and dictate transaction logic, ensuring safe and trustworthy interactions.
  • The network maintains reliability even if some validators deviate, because security architecture relies on hybrid consensus protocol (BFT and DPoS) provides trusted and censorship-resistant network.
  • Users can enhance privacy and security through zkLogin functionality, which eliminates the need to manage wallets and seed phrases.

Growth Milestones in 2023

The Sui team recently published a short report on their milestones for 2023.

Source Source

January 25

Testnet Wave 2 launches, using two gamified apps to test the tokenomics model in relation to Validators. The results, with statistics including 36.5 million transactions, set the stage for Mainnet launch. Wave 2 followed Testnet Wave 1, launched in 2022, which focused on Validator coordination.

March 29

Testnet launches as a permanent resource, letting builders test their apps and ready them for public launch. This Testnet brought new Sui features to builders, such as sponsored transactions, the Kiosk primitive, and programmable transaction blocks.

May 3

Sui Mainnet launches, opening up the network to unfettered public use. Supported by over 100 Validators and over 400 nodes, builders can launch their apps and bring Sui's innovative features to the public.

July 12

DeepBook, Sui's first native liquidity layer, launches. This central limit order book gives DeFi protocols and other app builders a mechanism to support both market and limit token swaps.

July 15

Sui celebrates hosting 1 000 000 active accounts, an early indicator of interest in the seven million active accounts network.

July 26

Sui experiences over 65 million transactions in one day, the most recorded on a blockchain ever and proof of its scalability. Other metrics for Sui Mainnet's first three months include hitting 5,414 transactions per second without causing a gas fee spike.

August 15

Momentum continues to grow as Sui reaches 3 million active accounts.

September 13

zkLogin, an innovative new primitive, launches on Sui, letting builders incorporate authorization through existing credentials from providers such as Google, Facebook, and Twitch. zkLogin greatly eases the onboarding path for new Web3 users.

October 19

DeFi shows substantial growth, with combined activity from protocols showing Total Value Locked rising 341 % and volume rising 229 % over three months.

November 2

Using the technology behind zkLogin, zkSend launches in beta, giving users a seamless means of sending tokens to anyone, even those not yet using Sui.

November 8

Combined Total Value Locked for DeFi protocols on Sui crosses the $100 million mark, showing continued DeFi growth.

November 27

9 000 000 accounts became active on Sui, as new users onboarded through the many engaging projects on the network.

December 1

Sui surpassed $150,000,000 in Total Value Locked (TVL).

December 25

Sui surpassed $200,000,000 in Total Value Locked (TVL) - that’s 500% plus vs. September

Envisioning Web3 and Sui's Future

During a recent Founders AMA, Adeniyi and Sui Foundation Managing Director Greg Siourounis took the stage to openly discuss their perspectives on the future of blockchain and Sui.

They underscored that the key to future success lies in providing consumers with unique products that rival those of Web2. By addressing genuine issues through ownership and eliminating unnecessary friction in the user experience, the potential for adoption to surge and break out of the current favorable state becomes evident.

Adeniyi emphasized the importance for product teams, such as Mysten Labs, to prioritize empathy and place it at the core of the development process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sui Blockchain presents a unique landscape in the competitive blockchain arena, particularly in its differentiation from traditional L1 solutions. Its innovative object-centric data model sets it apart, challenging the account-based systems used by its competitors. Sui's potential to rival on-chain storage protocols and compete in the scalability narrative introduces intriguing dynamics.

A significant aspect of competition comes from Layer-2 solutions focused on scalability and user onboarding. Despite the innovative design of Sui, success hinges on providing a user-friendly experience, a challenge where Layer-2 solutions may pose strong competition.

The success of Sui could hinge on the development of high-quality DApps accessible to non-crypto users. The broader consideration revolves around whether Non-EVMs can outperform EVMs in a Web3 environment that prioritizes user experience.

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