Monolithic and Modular blockchains

Monolithic and Modular blockchains

A Monolithic architecture encapsulates 3 main features of a blockchain which are

  • Consensus,

  • Execution of transactions and,

  • Data availability.

These types of blockchains have been the industry standard ever since the hype of cryptocurrencies came up.

The Consensus layer is used to maintain the blockchain's current condition like block number and block height. It ensures that all nodes/validators are in the same state all the time.

The execution part is the validators which validate transactions and change the blockchain state.

The data availability refers to the data stored in the blocks which are stored on all the validator nodes in the blockchain.

Monolithic Blockchain Architecture

The Monolithic blockchain keeps all these core features into a single Layer 1 which mainly focuses on Security, and reliability in a single architecture.

Modular Architecture

A Modular blockchain provides greater flexibility and scalability functionality.

It separates the system into multiple components that will be attached in various ways to achieve tasks in a more performance-optimised way.

The modularity of a system says that each component specializes only in a single part and they will be combined with other components to make the whole system work.

They are like pluggable modules which can be swapped and changed to achieve different outcomes based on the use case.

Modular blockchain architecture

An example of a modular blockchain architecture is Rollup. It only processes the transaction which is the execution part but completely outsources the consensus and data availability.

So a modular chain will always perform only some of the 3 features of a monolithic blockchain and will outsource the rest.

Ethereum Shards

Similar to Bitcoin, Ethereum was designed to be a monolithic blockchain but for ecosystem scalability, it is transitioning to a modular blockchain system

Ethereum uses Sharding which is a process of splitting up a system into many parts for this. It splits the functions across many components to get more efficiency.

With sharding the blockchain is divided into multiple sub-chains each handling a certain portion of the network. Ethereum uses 64 shard chains operating together in parallel.

Shards are able to process transactions in parallel or can store data in chunks. So when you run an Ethereum node, that node will only store the data published on that shard chain which is not storing the complete blockchain data.

A detailed blog will follow more on shards and rollups...

Advantages of Modular

  1. Scalability becomes feasible

  2. Launching new Blockchains becomes easier with pluggable components which handle specific tasks.

  3. More flexibility as it allows to plug any component anywhere to get the desired outcome

Disadvantages of Modular

  1. Less or unguaranteed security

  2. It is a more complex design

Examples of Modular Blockchains

  1. Ethereum

  2. Celestia

  3. Polygon Avail

  4. Validium

Some important topics like Rollups, Shards and examples will be covered in upcoming blogs...