Nano (formerly RaiBlocks) is a digital cryptocurrency that runs the directed acyclic graph algorithm. Nano aims at providing a platform that offers users instant transactions with zero-fee charges. To achieve this, Nano uses its unique technology called “block lattice.”
In this novel technological approach, every account on the Nano network runs as an independent blockchain. We’ll get into the specifics shortly, but let’s first find out why Nano chose to use this approach instead of the established blockchain technology used by Bitcoin.
Why Block Lattice for Nano?
Nano’s main objective is to bring solutions to the challenges that plague Bitcoin and other altcoins that utilize blockchain’s Proof of Work mining consensus mechanism. These issues relate to a bloated network that results in abhorrently slow transactions and skyrocketing fees.
To put it into perspective, block lattice allows Nano to skip the mining process, which removes the need for transaction fees altogether. This translates to a zero-fee charge on the Nano network. In short, Nano hopes to use the block lattice architecture to better the deficits facing Bitcoin in a faster, near-instant time without the need for similar computational power and huge energy consumptions.
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Is Block Lattice Better than Blockchain?
Nano’s block lattice structure works similarly to blockchain in many ways, but there are a few fundamental differences that set it apart. What we need to ask is if Nano’s block lattice is better than blockchain. Here are some of the key differences to note.
First, unlike Bitcoin’s blockchain where all user accounts are hosted on the main chain, Nano’s structure has each account designed as an independent blockchain. These blockchains are referred to as account-chains. The key factor here is that every account-chain can only be modified by its user, allowing it to be asynchronously updated – independent of the block lattice network.
What this means is that Nano coin users can send and update transaction blocks on their blockchain. It is a key distinguishing factor because it means the network doesn’t have to update every account, which ultimately helps reduce scalability issues.
How Nano Works
Nano transactions require two sets of instructions: the sender transaction command and the receiver’s transaction command. When a user sends funds on the lattice blockchain, the receiving address must sign the transaction to confirm that indeed it has taken place. Doing this signals that the transaction is completed and, therefore, settled.
However, if the transaction is only signed by the sender, then it becomes a pending, unsettled transaction. There is no need for miners to verify the transaction, as it will be recorded on the main chain after the receiver signs it. The lattice block structure also consists of a feature called User Datagram Protocol (UDP). These are transactional packets that help keep computational costs low, allowing you to send funds to accounts that are offline.
Another key difference relates to how the ledger is kept. For Nano, each transaction is an independent block, and every successive block replaces the older block stored in the accounting chain. To have an accurate ledger history on the block lattice chain, every new transaction (which is also a new block), takes the current balances in the user’s account and records it as part of the new transaction.
This replaces the old balance with a new one, which is then recorded on the main Nano chain. This is unlike on the blockchain, where a block is comprised of a set of verified transactions added to the main public chain.
Let’s assume you send me an X amount of Nano. Once we both sign that the transaction has been completed, my new balance will be verified and recorded in my account chain by simply adding the incoming send block amount to my current balance. This new block will replace the old block.
On your end, the account chain would verify the transaction by taking the difference between the send block and the immediate balance. The resultant balance is recorded as a new block, replacing the old one. Now, both of our account chains have new, updated balances.
The block lattice system allows the Nano framework to keep only the records of current account chain balances on the Nano ledger. This is unlike what traditional blockchains or distributed ledgers do. Instead of having the entire transaction history hogged on to the main ledger, the Nano protocol only keeps records of account balances.
What are the benefits of Nano’s block lattice over Blockchain?
We have explored how the Nano network, with its DAG and account chains, differs from the traditional blockchain technology. Here are the accompanying benefits of the Nano platform.
The use of independent account-chains enables the user accounts to be updated asynchronously, without the need to involve the entire network. The dual-transaction approach leaves the process of transaction verification to the affected accounts, i.e. the sender and the receiver. This option eliminates the need for miners, meaning that transactions are instant and with zero fees. The network, therefore, becomes more latent.
The Nano structure allows transactions to be handled independently of the main ledger. Every transaction is also an independent block that fits into a UDP transactional packet, recorded as a unique block. This aspect eliminates issues relating to block size since nodes don’t have to keep a record of all the transactions on the network. Rather, the nodes store the current blocks of every account-chain.
Therefore, by not keeping a record of the entire blockchain history, the Nano network avoids scalability issues. This is where block lattice differs from blockchain. With the blockchain, a single transaction cannot be isolated and recorded on the main chain. A select number of transactions must be fitted into the block before being verified and then added to the main chain. This means increased transactions lead to a steady decline in speed, slowing down the entire network. But Nano coin’s use of account chains helps maintain a lighter network, reducing problems of scalability that plague blockchain.
Nano uses the delegated Proof of Stake consensus algorithm to validate transactions. This in itself reduces power consumption because there is no mining. Furthermore, the Nano technology and the block lattice structure means that delegates only come in to verify transactions in cases where problems have been reported. Therefore, we can say that block lattice helps Nano nodes reduce energy consumption as opposed to nodes using Proof of Work consensus mechanism.
Is the future Nano?
The Nano coin approach to blockchain technology is quite attractive. The use of account-chains helps to avoid network clogging and offers a solid base for managing issues like scalability and increased energy consumption. However, since it’s still in its nascent stages, I believe it would be too early to say it’s better than blockchain.
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