Nervos recently completed a Major Protocol Upgrade which brought about a bevvy of new improvements and features. Known as ‘Mirana’, this upgrade to Layer 1 represents the next chapter in its history, which intends to make the base layer of the network more efficient and future-proof.
We invited Nervos’ Chief Architect Jan Xie to Twitter Spaces to discuss what this upgrade means to the Nervos community. In this discussion, Jan shared his thoughts on the history leading up to the upgrade, as well as the key features and improvements and what they will mean for both developers and users of Nervos.
Below we summarize the key points that Jan mentioned during the discussion on Twitter Spaces.
The History of Lina and Why the Upgrade?
In late 2019 Nervos launched ‘Lina’, the first iteration of Nervos’ Layer 1 blockchain. This was a brand new base layer blockchain that would serve as the foundation of what would one day become a multi-layer ecosystem.
To accomplish this, Nervos blended many different aspects of Bitcoin and Ethereum together to create a platform that embraces the strong points of both. This new approach was the first comprehensive extended UTXO blockchain in practice and it meant having to take on new challenges which no one had ever seen before. There were many fine details that could not be anticipated. We knew that changes would be necessary which is why we planned for upgrades to occur in the future, such as this most recent one.
In Nervos’ multi-layer approach, Layer 1 is used for the preservation of assets, and Layer 2 is used for scalability. However, this is a broad distinction. Where exactly the line should be drawn between L1 and L2 is still an open question for the entire industry. Through the feedback we received from dApp developers over the past two years we realized some areas where our design was too rigid. We have redesigned and rebalanced these parts of the platform to better support the realistic needs of developers. These improvements are included in this update.
Through this Major Protocol Upgrade, we have demonstrated with Mirana that we can improve the design of the platform continuously without breaking promises in the original positioning paper. We will need continuous improvement going into the future. It is only ongoing research combined with a bit of trial and error which will enable us to unlock the future potential of the platform.
How did Partners and Community Help the Major Protocol Upgrade?
Nervos is a project that is deeply committed to decentralization. Many projects claim decentralization, but there are vast differences in the approach and depth. Nervos aims to maximize decentralization at every level, including technology, governance, and the community.
A Major Protocol Upgrade requires cooperation and coordination between all participants. This is difficult because development teams, partners, and community members are under no obligation to comply. We have to persuade all participants to support the upgrade, or it will not be successful.
For example, miners, mining pools, wallet providers, exchanges, and dApp developers all run full nodes. In order for the network upgrade to succeed, they must upgrade their software in advance of the fork. Users of the Neuron wallet are also running full nodes, meaning we needed to make all of them aware of the update and give them a reason on why they should upgrade.
Consent is an absolute requirement in a decentralized ecosystem since we cannot force participants to upgrade. To our advantage, there was nothing contentious about this upgrade. It was a benefit to all participants. A few teams were slow and missed some deadlines, but there was no resistance to adopting the upgrade.
We spent a lot of time making sure everyone in the community was aware of what was occurring and prepared materials to help ease the transition. Thus, we were able to deliver as smooth of an experience as possible for everyone involved.
Features and benefits from the Major Protocol Upgrade?
RFC Process: Nervos’ RFC process is similar to an Ethereum EIP or Bitcoin BIP. It is a way for the Nervos community to openly and transparently collaborate to improve Nervos. Anyone is free to participate in ongoing discussions, or propose new directions. This process is how many of the features in the Mirana upgrade were discussed and decided upon.
The New Address Format: Users will notice that some of the short addresses they were used to are now much longer, but under the hood this new format enables additional features that are part of the Major Protocol Upgrade. The format also consolidates all existing address formats into a single format that will need to be upgraded less frequently in the future.
Virtual Machine Versioning: One of the new key features in CKB-VM is the RISC-V B extension. This enhancement gives CKB-VM a performance boost and makes operation more efficient. The update also keeps CKB-VM up to date with the latest changes in the Rust ecosystem, which allows Nervos developers to continue to take advantage of the innovation created there.
Extensible Block Header: A new extension field has been added to the block structure that can be used to store different types of data necessary for future features. The first feature that will utilize this field is the upcoming flyclient; a super lightweight Nervos node that does not sacrifice any security, but has much lower system requirements that makes it more suitable for casual users and mobile devices.
This Major Protocol Upgrade improves performance, but the primary benefits are more geared for developers building on Nervos. Layer 1 is the foundation of the ecosystem, so these upgrades will benefit all layers and ultimately improve the user experience for all dApps in the future.
The Major Protocol Upgrade was successful and we have to give thanks to the hard work done by our development team, all our partners, and the community. We believe these upgrades will pay many positive dividends in the coming years, and this couldn’t have been done without the full support of everyone. These upgrades help to improve Nervos now and put us in an even better position for the future. This enables us to continue improving our developer experience at the lowest level, which will lead to a better building environment for dApp developers, and ultimately will yield the highest quality dApps and the best possible experience for all users in the ecosystem.
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