Q&A with Phore Core
1. So many blockchains projects focused on scalability, why Phore is the answer?
Phore’s vision is to provide a global cryptocurrency platform to enable individuals and businesses to create and use blockchain solutions. This requires a highly decentralized platform that can be scaled up enough with mass adoption to handle global transaction volumes, without making big sacrifices to security, cost or performance.
This is one of several reasons we chose to build our upcoming Synapse architecture. Our current architecture started out with a theoretical capacity of about 70 transactions per second (tps), which increased to up to double that amount (140 tps) when we integrated SegWit. However, that is still not nearly enough to handle mass adoption on a global scale, especially when handling advanced and potentially large smart contract transactions. We needed a better solution.
With the Synapse architecture, we have a main blockchain called the beacon chain, and can add a very large number of shard blockchains. The shard blockchains are where almost all of the user transactions are recorded, while they also regularly check in to the beacon chain with attestation transactions that summarize the activity happening over short periods of time. Each shard blockchain operates independently, and does not compete with other shards for capacity, so each time we add a new shard, the overall capacity increases. Groups of validator nodes called shard committees are assigned to each shard for intervals of time to validate transactions and blocks and to provide the attestation transactions, which means that any single node does not need to contain all transactions and blocks of all shards — they could only be tracking the state of one or two shards at any given time. This allows for very fast blockchain synchronization, and for each validator node to only need to process the work for a fraction of the overall Synapse activity.
There are also several other more advanced cryptographic techniques being built into Synapse — one example is BLS signature aggregation. BLS shrinks the size of signatures dramatically, and due to a recent breakthrough in a paper published by researchers from Stanford, IBM, and Ethereum, the number of pairings required to aggregate n signatures has been reduced from n + 1 to 2, which makes it vastly more scalable as a solution in a large blockchain ecosystem. Our lead developer Julian has implemented a Go implementation of the BLS library for Synapse and put a lot of work into optimizing its performance since it is used heavily throughout the system.
I don’t want to give specific numbers of what is achievable in the new Synapse architecture until we’ve had a chance to test it under real world conditions, but I can say that given the design, the number of shards processing transactions simultaneously could easily be over 1,000, possibly much higher. That would imply that the Synapse architecture could potentially scale to at least 1,000 times as much capacity as our current blockchain, which is already able to handle many times as many transactions as many other blockchains. Each shard type will be optimized for its use case — our transfer shards are being optimized for fast, secure transfers, and those shards will not be affected by things like smart contracts that may be going on in other parts of the Synapse architecture.
We think this provides a great solution for being able to handle a full range of blockchain transactions ranging from simple transfers to complex smart contracts, while also scaling to global transaction volumes at a low cost, and maintaining high levels of security and decentralization. Very few if any current blockchains can match this combination of features.
2. What is Synapse?
Synapse is Phore’s new blockchain architecture, which is going to provide a monumental upgrade in capabilities from where we are now. It provides a full set of capabilities to process Turing-complete smart contracts, with an improved proof of stake protocol and a highly scalable sharding architecture. The architecture leverages some of the core ideas that Ethereum Research has been coming up with for the future Ethereum 2.0 sharding architecture, and many important additions and differences as well. All of the code for Synapse has been written from scratch by the Phore team. It was designed from the beginning to be able to handle different types of blockchains, each optimized around their own use case — for example, we are starting off with transfer shards that are optimized for fast, secure transfers, and a decentralized governance shard to handle on-chain budget governance to fund development and community awareness activities, and on-chain blockchain governance which allows approval and activation of new shard types without requiring hard fork upgrades.
3. How Synapse works?
Synapse will will be using the CASPER proof of stake algorithm which we believe is a big step forward in security from our current PoS 3.0 algorithm, addressing the ‘nothing at stake’ problem which means there will be less chance of long running forks, and making the finality of blocks a determinate number of blocks which will mitigate deep reorganization attacks. With things like the current 51% reorg. / double spend attack on Ethereum Classic, this will be an important differentiator for us as these kinds of attacks become more prevalent.
The architecture also allows for the possibility of secure, stateless clients. Stateless clients would not need to download the whole blockchain to know what the current balances of addresses are, and it will allow all clients to very quickly sync to the latest state of the blockchain meaning users no longer have to wait an hour or more to let the blockchain sync or resync. It will also mean that light node clients (SPV) such as mobile wallets will be more secure than other proof of stake SPV wallets.
Synapse will also bring capabilities for smart contracts, and for this we are using WASM (web assembly) as the core compiled standard for processing transactions on shards. This is far superior to most other current smart contract processing solutions. To put this into perspective, the current Ethereum EVM has runs smart contract code about 200 times slower than natively compiled code, and with WASM we expect it will be closer to a 20% difference instead of 20,000%, or another way of putting it is that it would run potentially up to 1,000 times faster than current Ethereum EVM code using equivalent hardware. This same WASM engine will also be used to process full Turing-complete smart contracts when we add smart contract shards in a later release.
The final major piece I would highlight are the Synapse ‘masternodes’ (validators). These Synapse validators will be playing a much more critical role on the network than masternodes do today, with one of the biggest new roles being that they will be taking over the staking function currently being performed by staking wallets. This isn’t their only use however, as they will still be performing the same tasks as before; holding ‘masternode’ collateral, performing budget governance / voting, providing a strong network of always-on nodes to provide high availability, privacy, and decentralization, as well as processing and validating smart contract and other transactions, proposing and validating blocks, and performing the attestation transactions to the beacon chain.
These additional tasks also mean more rewards for the people who run Synapse validators, and the amount of collateral and computing resources needed will be much smaller than with current Phore masternodes. Since Synapse validators will not need to download entire copies of the entire blockchain, they will run much more efficiently, and users would be able to run 100 or more of these with the same resources (a single VPS for example) that typically run 1 Phore masternode today. Running Synapse validators will be more accessible to more people, allowing greater decentralization and more broad participation and rewards for members of the Phore community who help to secure and run the Synapse network.
4. What is Synapse progress?
The development of the code-named Synapse blockchain architecture has been going very well. It is a complex architecture and is being designed and implemented using a micro-services component architecture. There are separate components being built for the main (beacon) blockchain, peer to peer communication, BLS signature aggregation, validators (which will perform the roles of both staking and Phore Masternodes), the shard client, and each individual shard type. Those components form essentially the back end of the blockchain architecture, and we are also developing the front end interface for the Synapse wallet. In addition to the wallet and all of the components above, we are also creating a separate block explorer for Synapse that can extract, analyze and display information about the activity on the Synapse blockchain through an easy to use web interface.
Initial development is nearing completion for the main blockchain, peer to peer communication, the BLS signature aggregation library, validators, and the shard client. Coding is currently underway and making great progress for the Transfer shard, which will handle almost all of the current types of wallet transactions supported by Phore today. We are also re-examining one of the core components for decentralized data storage — there are a couple of options and we are currently looking at adopting the DAT protocol standard, which we would implement natively in Go and use for decentralized storage and retrieval of transaction and block data that are referenced from hashes stored on the blockchain. After these components are complete, we will finish the Governance shard, which will handle two kinds of governance: decentralized development proposal / budget governance, and on-chain governance of approving and activating new shard types without requiring frequent hard fork upgrades.
We were also excited to learn that the Ethereum 2.0 Go team (Prysmatic Labs) has been interested in what we’re developing, and that as they were looking at options for their BLS signature aggregation library, they chose to integrate the library we built for Synapse. Our lead developer, Julian Meyer was also invited to participate in BLS standards meetings to help ensure that different implementations of the BLS specification remain compatible. If nothing changes, our code will be part of Ethereum’s next generation Go implementation. Prysmatic Labs developers have also contributed improvements to our library, adding a performance optimization they were aware of from other BLS implementations. We look forward to future collaborations with the Ethereum team.
Going forward, once the development of the initial Synapse shard types are completed, we will complete the Synapse wallet interface front end. In parallel with that, we will be ramping up the Synapse testnet and putting the full architecture through it’s paces and inviting members of the community to help us test it and provide feedback.
5. How will Synapse simplify the usage of crypto for mass adoption?
We will be making many improvements to the user experience with the Synapse architecture. One major difference in how the Synapse architecture works is that each wallet does not require a full download of all blockchain data — this means that users will be able to see the latest state of their wallet much more quickly than with most cryptocurrency wallets. It also makes light clients like mobile wallets or web wallets more secure than many other blockchains, and we think this is very important as we expect longer term that most of our users around the world will be using mobile devices. The setup of validators will also be simplified and automated as much as possible, so that users who wish to provide validator services and receive block rewards can do so without requiring as much technical knowledge as many other blockchains require.
The front end interface is being completely redesigned for Synapse, and that effort is currently underway and being led by Joe Hughes, who has a lot of great experience with user interface and user experience design. We want Synapse to be very simple and easy to use, even for non-technical users, and will be building in as much simplification and automation as possible into the Synapse user interface, while still providing access to very robust and powerful features when they are needed. We’ve also designed the front end as a separate layer of the architecture that can be rapidly iterated on and improved based on community feedback.
The functionality and flexibility we are building into the Synapse architecture we believe will also help drive more adoption — currently, if you wanted to use a blockchain optimized for a specific use case, but you also needed features of another blockchain that is optimized differently, you would likely need to run multiple different cryptocurrency wallet and use complicated procedures to transfer data and possibly coins between them. With Synapse, we have the ability to add many different shard types, each of which can be optimized for a different use case, and all of which can be used as one integrated ecosystem on a single blockchain. The Transfer shard will provide fast, secure, scalable transactions. When we add the smart contract shard type, any kind of smart contract can be executed there. If the community decides to implement an identity shard, a privacy shard, a decentralized storage shard, or any other type of blockchain, they can all be activated and work together to form a complete solution for developers and users.
We consider ease of use and providing a simple and powerful user experience to be one of our primary goals going forward, and we also welcome feedback from the community about how the Synapse wallet can be improved even further.
6. Who is behind Synapse?
Phore Blockchain’s lead developer Julian Meyer is the chief architect of Synapse, with Wang Qi and Joe Hughes making some extremely valuable contributions to the development of the architecture, including the wallet front end architecture and a new Synapse block explorer. As Phore’s CEO, Mike Trisko is also heavily involved with decisions being made about the architecture, and overseeing and coordinating efforts across the entire Phore team for design, development, testing, and deployment of Synapse. As we get closer to launch, we will also have contributions from Mateusz Jachna to help integrate the new wallet for the Synapse architecture into the Phore Marketplace, and may have other developers contributing to additional components such as mobile wallets and other integrations.
We also want as much community feedback as possible. We already conducted an initial testnet run involving members of the Phore community, and will be doing more testing along the way before we are ready to formally launch Synapse.
7. Plans for exchanges?
We are always looking to make Phore as available and accessible to people as possible so listing on additional exchanges is an extremely important part of our plans for the future. The development standards at Phore are rivaled by only a small handful of projects, for example the development team building Ethereum 2.0 are actually using Phore’s BLS library, right now, in the ETH2.0 architecture. The Phore team has also been approached by many other cryptocurrency teams for assistance with everything from resolving urgent issues to launching new cryptocurrency projects, and we are continually expanding our blockchain services offerings as well. This proves that development of this quality does not go unnoticed for long and therefore the team expects to see Phore on all major exchanges in the future.
Our focus has always been primarily on development and making Phore’s blockchain platforms and products as useful as possible, and we believe as more users begin using Phore’s solutions, it will naturally get the attention of major cryptocurrency exchanges. We are continually having discussions with exchanges, although due to non-disclosure agreements we cannot share details of which specific exchanges or what the status is of those discussions.
We are also deploying some of our own exchange-like features in our own solutions — the Phore Marketplace already supports cryptocurrency trading between PHR and BTC pairs, and we will be expanding this functionality considerably in the future, adding more pairs and base currencies, as well as many other improvements that provide a fully decentralized, peer to peer cryptocurrency trading capability to Phore users.
8. What is/will be Phore marketing plan?
Synapse will be a completely new platform with exciting and new capabilities many people are not familiar with. A large focus on marketing that includes education, awareness and promotion is important. Equally important is the liquidity supported by exchange listings which will also be a priority.
With its sharding architecture, new approach to masternodes, smart contract capability, faster transaction speeds and increased security, Synapse opens up many possibilities for utility, functionality, use cases and demand. All of these things will require information being shared within our community, throughout the entire crypto community and beyond. Expect to see things like a new white paper, airdrops, bounty programs, contests, articles and information, social media activity, media exposure, press releases and more.
9. Many changes on the core team? Any future addition?
The Phore core team has grown over the past year, adding several talented developers even while there was a bear market for cryptocurrencies. Wang Qi helped us integrate SegWit into the current Phore wallet, and is hard at work on the Synapse architecture. Mateusz Jachna is now leading development on the Phore Marketplace, and his work has included re-architecting our Phore blockchain back-end API infrastructure to make it more scalable, and a recent release of the Phore Marketplace that added cryptocurrency trading capabilities, with much more to come.
We are always looking for more contributors, both volunteers from the Phore community and both full and part time core team members as we are able to grow the team. We are also expanding our blockchain development services offerings for clients, and have active discussions with several new potential clients. Revenue from these services helps fund Phore’s development in addition to the Phore development funds voted on through the decentralized governance process. As our client roster grows, we will be hiring additional developers, quality assurance testers, and operations/support staff who will also be helping to accelerate our work on the Phore roadmap.
For these positions, we are looking for people with solid development experience working on complex, commercial quality systems, who may know several programming languages and who have the ability to learn quickly — we can train developers on cryptocurrency and blockchain concepts, so while it is helpful to have that knowledge, it is not required. Everyone on the Phore team is currently working 100% remotely, and we are open to working with people around the world — our current team includes people across the USA, Canada, the UK, Poland, and China, as well as several other countries.
10. What current partnerships Phore is working on and what will be its purpose?
The majority of our development focus has been on the Synapse architecture and the Phore Marketplace in recent months. The launch of the Synapse architecture will enable us to expand our existing and potential future partnerships, especially given the greatly enhanced features that will be available to us to integrate our blockchain with partners.
We have been having ongoing discussions with several of our current partners about ways we can integrate our projects and applications, including COTI and Reddcoin. In COTI’s case, we are looking at integration opportunities to help enhance the user experience in the Phore Marketplace, which also may include cross-blockchain integration. Reddcoin is the first partnership we announced to be added as an additional supported wallet and cryptocurrency within the Phore Marketplace. This will allow the large Reddcoin community to use the full functionality of the Marketplace to buy and sell physical and digital goods and services, and perform peer to peer crypto trading using Reddcoin, Phore, and Bitcoin, with many more to come. Our partnership with Reddcoin will help bring a much larger user base to the Phore Marketplace.
11. PHR in downtrend in the past +18 months, what is the plan to revert?
While our team never makes price predictions, we are passionately focused on having Phore’s blockchain technology, decentralized applications, and blockchain services provide the most value and the best user experience possible. Our goal is to empower individuals and businesses to solve real world problems using cryptocurrency and decentralized applications.
The launch of the Synapse architecture will place our blockchain technology far beyond the capabilities of most other cryptocurrency projects — scalability, security, and decentralization will all be greatly enhanced. Once we are ready to launch, there will also be an increased focus on marketing and awareness activities both inside and outside the Phore and cryptocurrency communities. We will also be building out developer tools and documentation to help foster a larger development community to build dApps and be able to issue tokens on the Synapse platform. As we did with the Phore Marketplace, we will also be looking to develop end user dApps ourselves that provide value to Synapse users.
In parallel with the Synapse launch, we will continue improving the features and functionality in the Phore Marketplace. The multi-wallet architecture will be in place in our next release, which we expect will be completed within the next few weeks. As we add Reddcoin and other cryptocurrency support to the Marketplace, we expect a significant increase in user adoption and awareness, and will be looking to add more partnerships that provide mutual benefit to their project and to the Phore community. We have plans to significantly expand and improve the cryptocurrency trading features in the Marketplace to provide fully decentralized, non-custodial, peer to peer crypto trading in a more user friendly way, and to make it easier to buy and sell items that are being offered in other cryptocurrencies.
We are also expanding our blockchain development services offerings. We have already successfully completed several projects for clients, and we are in active discussions with several new clients. This will help Phore in several ways — it will provide an additional source of funding to expand and accelerate Phore’s development roadmap, allow us to hire and train additional developers, build more awareness of the work the Phore team is doing on Synapse and the Phore Marketplace, provide many natural partnership opportunities, and we are planning to offer discounted services to clients in the future when they pay for services with PHR. I want to highlight that last point — as more clients begin paying for development, operations, and support services in PHR, it will create a recurring demand for purchasing PHR — adding another Phore use case that wasn’t there before, which will grow each time we add another blockchain services client.
If you enjoy the read, follow me on Twitter, and use my referral links:
Is good for Karma!
This is not a financial advise and you should do your own research before investing, and understand if you are willing to lose this investment, as there is always risk in innovative markets as technology, fintech, and cryptocurrencies, due to regulations, geopolitical issues, and what not. That being said, besides being invested in Phore, I am being compensated for my time writing this article.