Somnia’s Data Chains: Improving Blockchain Scalability

21 Jul 2024

Somnia is building an open, interoperable metaverse that will allow millions of users to seamlessly move between virtual worlds and experiences. Enabling this vision requires a high-performance blockchain architecture capable of processing transactions at massive scale.

This is where Somnia’s unique data chain architecture comes in, an innovation inspired by the 2024 whitepaper Motorway: Seamless high speed BFT.” On the Somnia blockchain, each validator operates its own independent “data chain”. These data chains allow each validator to continuously produce blocks of transaction data without having to wait for consensus from other validators.

The data chains work in conjunction with a separate consensus chain. The consensus chain periodically takes a snapshot of the current state of each validator’s data chain, ensuring that all data chains converge on the same global state. A proof-of-stake consensus mechanism is used to secure the consensus chain.

This decoupled architecture, separating block production in the data chains from the consensus process, provides some key advantages:

  • Extreme transaction throughput and low latency, with the ability for each validator to produce blocks in parallel limited only by their own hardware and bandwidth. This allows Somnia to achieve transaction speeds orders of magnitude higher than other blockchains.
  • Efficient data availability, with each node able to download blocks from multiple data chains in parallel. The data chains also enable advanced compression techniques to maximize data throughput.
  • Scalability, with the ability to increase transaction throughput by adding more validators and data chains as the network grows. The data chains can potentially even be sharded in the future for further scalability.

Providing an open metaverse for millions of users will require the ability to process large volumes of transactions in real-time as users interact with virtual worlds and each other. Any delays or constraints on transaction throughput would severely limit the responsiveness and scale of the metaverse.

The data chain architecture, combined with other innovations like the high-performance IceDB storage engine, will allow Somnia to support a massive open metaverse at a scale not possible with existing blockchain architectures.

To learn more about what Somnia is building check out our litepaper, and join our community to stay updated on the release of our full technical whitepaper.

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