After years of seeking regulatory compliance, Diem, a cryptocurrency payments project from Facebook/Meta, came to an abrupt end in 2022. Its assets were sold, including the underlying blockchain network. Two former Meta employees, Mo Shaikh and Avery Ching, were reluctant to accept the fate of a project they had spent nearly three years working on. So they decided to continue their work, only this time as CEO and CTO of the newly formed Aptos Labs.
Based on the knowledge its employees have acquired in the Diem codebase, Aptos Labs seeks to create a general blockchain network with the following goals:
- Reviving Diem’s technology by leveraging its programming language Move to create scalable, secure and flexible infrastructure that can compete with existing blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
- Ensure high throughput, low latency and verifiable state synchronization in a decentralized network by leveraging Diem’s architecture and various new technologies.
Aptos Devnet has been live since March this year, enabling developers to start building decentralized applications and run/test them right away. Additionally, in preparation for the public mainnet launch, which will be launched in Q3 2022, there will be multiple incentivized testnets that generate community feedback through participation.
In March 2022, just four months after its founding, Aptos said it had raised $200 million at a valuation of over $1 billion. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz (A16 z), with other investors including Tiger Global, FTX, Coinbase, 3 AC and other well-known companies. While there is no information on the exact valuation of the round, Aptos CEO Mo Shaikh said they have reached unicorn status.
On July 25, Aptos Labs once again announced that it has completed a Series A financing led by FTX Ventures and Jump Crypto, including investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Multicoin Capital, and Circle Ventures, among others. The latest $150 million funding round is more than double Aptos Labs’ previous valuation of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. By comparison, Ethereum raised about $18.4 million in 2014.
Read full information on their recent funding activity here.
Aptos is running on the fourth iteration of their consensus protocol, Aptos BFT, which they claim is the lowest latency and most advanced iteration to date. This consensus protocol is a derivative of HotStuff, the underlying consensus protocol originally used by Diem. Recent additions to the system include:
- An innovative reputation system especially suited for decentralized environments that checks on-chain data and automatically changes leader rotation to resolve unresponsive validators without human intervention
- Now, block commit times are much shorter (down to 2), enabling sub-second finality.
While the current TPS on the testnet is around 1,000 TPS, Aptos Labs is following a roadmap they believe will allow them to get the most out of their engine, which they claim has a maximum TPS capability of 100k+. According to their roadmap, the process of achieving this feat can be summed up in three milestones:
Milestone 1: Separating Consensus from Execution
The first architectural milestone is the complete separation of the consensus mechanism from transaction execution. The consensus protocol accepts the proposed transaction ordering. Validators execute transactions in different protocols away from the critical path and agree on final transaction ordering and execution results. By removing the co-dependency that comes with combining consensus and execution, higher throughput and latency can be achieved. Aptos Labs is working on this decoupling for their next protocol iteration, which is expected to be integrated into the testnet later this year.
Milestone 2: Transaction Execution Time
Generally, when projects mention how good their system performance is, they tend to emphasize transaction finality and system throughput. Finality is the interval between when a client creates and submits a transaction and the other party confirms its commitment. Throughput is described as transactions per second (tps), which measures how many transactions each node in the network can complete in one second. Having said that, smart contract execution represents a significant throughput bottleneck.
Validators must execute the transactions in the ordered block after submitting the block and agreeing on its order. The validator must then come to the same conclusion, consistent with the sequentially executed transactions. This sequential process can hurt network performance, especially when network activity increases. Unfortunately, current blockchain systems lack an inherent scalability solution to this problem; they run sequentially or take advantage of extremely inefficient off-chain workloads.
Aptos Labs designed an in-memory smart contract parallel execution engine called Block-STM. STM stands for Software Transactional Memory, a new engineering approach that supports flexible transactional programming of synchronous processes. However, when generally applied, the STM model suffers from performance limitations due to the conflict between bookkeeping and abort. Having said that, Aptos Labs concluded after evaluation that when applied to specific use cases like DLT and a combination of innovative technologies, they were able to achieve 100 k+ TPS on 32 cores in their execution-only benchmark. Furthermore, their experimental evaluations also show that Block-STM outperforms sequential execution by up to 20 times on low-contention workloads and up to 9 times on high-contention workloads.
Milestone 3: Optimized Authentication Data Structures
The final milestone is to implement an optimized authentication data structure. To address the scalability issues that come with writing Merkle trees to persistent storage, Aptos is developing authenticated data structures that aim to be a scalable, database-friendly solution. This will be achieved by evaluating higher branching factors, access pattern optimization caching, and careful versioning,
To learn more about Block-STM, including complementary techniques for enhancing STM performance, see the documentation here and the GitHub implementation here.
To view the security audit, see here.
Move programming language
The Move programming language was created to serve as a secure, programmable foundation for Aptos’ vision to create a financial infrastructure that empowers the masses. With this in mind, Move aims to address the main pain points of current blockchain languages. Therefore, the solution proposed by Aptos can be summarized into four key goals: best-in-class resources, flexibility, security, and verifiability.
The main feature of Move is the ability to define custom resource types that statistically ensure that resources can only be moved between program storage locations, not cloned or deleted. This implementation significantly improves security by effectively preventing issues such as the aforementioned vulnerabilities. The resources are then managed by mobile modules, similar to smart contracts in that they control the process of encoding the rules for creating, updating, and deleting declared resources. The benefit of Move modules over smart contracts is that they enforce data abstraction, which means that resources are transparent inside their declaring module and opaque outside of them. Furthermore, with the help of an expressive specification language, Move provers can formally verify the characteristics of Move modules and be efficient enough for continuous integration testing.
To learn more about the Move programming language, see the documentation here.
Protocol on Aptos
While Aptos is relatively new, developer activity has grown exponentially since the incentivized testnet first launched in early March this year. For every new blockchain, the protocols that need the most attention are those that bring real value to the chain through infrastructure — similar to how money markets like Compound and oracles like Chainlink facilitate mainnet DeFi increase.
Thala Labs – Recently announced as a stablecoin protocol in June. Little was known about Thala Labs until the agreement document was published. That said, stablecoins are critical to the development of the nascent ecosystem, as stablecoins create liquidity incentives for other projects that drive TVL.
Pontem Network – Pontem recently released a general roadmap, reiterating their intention to build a number of products on Aptos, the first being a decentralized exchange. DEXs represent a sufficient liquidity structure to enable automatic exchange between different tokens, while encouraging liquidity growth through liquidity mining incentives. Other products on Pontem’s roadmap include yield aggregators, Aptos’ EVM layer, dApp integration wallets, and governance protocols.
Switchboard – A Solana-based general oracle network that emphasizes general price information. To learn more about oracles and the value they bring, see my in-depth report.
Vial–Vial is a joint interest rate protocol that enables users to lend and borrow assets on Aptos. Money markets bring value by enabling efficient capital management and diversification methods, as well as enabling on-chain leverage, which in turn drives liquidity across the ecosystem.
Aptosphere – Aptosphere is an indexing protocol for querying data on Aptos. For insights on why indexing protocols are critical to the success of new blockchains, see my database report here.
Team and Project Highlights
As mentioned, Aptos was founded by Mo Shaikh and Avery Ching, who currently serve as the CEO and CTO of Aptos Labs.
Other members of the Aptos founding team include Alden Hu, Alin Tomescu, David Wolinsky, Greg Nazario, Jake Skinner, Josh Lind, Max Kaplan, Mo Ahmed, Neil Harounian, Rati Gelashivili, Rustie Lin, Sasha Spiegelman, Sherry Xiao, Sital Kedia and Zekun Li, all possess admirable qualifications and strong track records in their respective fields.
It’s also important to note that Aptos’ social growth has been on the rise recently as the scalability solution narrative continues. According to data from The TIE’s Apefluencer tool, which helps institutions keep track of what matters to key opinion leaders, 19 of the 50 most-followed crypto accounts recently were part of the Aptos ecosystem.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
The report introduces Aptos, a BFT general public blockchain designed to be a scalable, secure and flexible infrastructure that can compete with existing blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Scalability has been a common topic in the field for the past few years. It is clear that many widely used blockchain systems are not inherently optimized to support the continued growth and adoption of blockchain technology. Aptos addresses these pain points by implementing a new approach focused on performance, scalability and user operability. All of these aspects highlight the continued value that Aptos proposes to bring to space, as well as the fundamental goal of creating an infrastructure comparable to existing blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/one-article-to-understand-aptos-financing-technical-architecture-move-language-and-ecological-application/
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