There is life beyond Ethereum

An analysis on different blockchains, their documentation and characteristics
Written by: Veselin Savov

The purpose of this article is to present to you an analysis of six different blockchains, which we can also call The Ethereum Killers. This post is suitable for both technical and non-technical people. However, the information is shared from a developers perspective. My goal is to save you time in reading long Whitepapers and documentation.

A few words about the author

I got intrigued in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in early 2017. Then, for the second time in my life, I rediscovered my interest in the technology and since then, I haven’t stopped reading and learning. I kept discovering new cryptocurrencies and wanted to know more about what they stand for.

My experience as a .NET Developer/DevOp combined with my curiosity in blockchain, naturally led me to becoming a blockchain developer at LimeChain earlier this year. The transition was smooth and exciting! Some people think that you cannot start programming from scratch, but my colleague Desimira Mitkova can prove you wrong. She switched from being a journalist for 13 years to blockchain developer! Read more about her story here.

Which are The Ethereum Killers?

After analysing various blockchains and cryptocurrencies and read a lot of reviews, documentations, whitepapers, yellowpapers and every-colour-paper, I picked six blockchains. The decision to choose between the competitors wasn’t easy as there are many coins and some of them are scams, frauds and ponzies like BitConneeect..

Competitors list

Cardano
EOS
NEO
IOTA
Stellar
Aeternity

 

Overview

Cardano is a blockchain platform for scalable smart contracts that use Proof of Stake consensus algorithm. The solution that they provide for scalability is two-layered architecture. Cardano Settlement Layer which stores all account values, transactions and all actions around ADA token. Cardano Computation Layer is a place where Smart Contracts lives and executes.

Technical specifications

Consensus: POS
Block time: 20s / Dynamic
Transactions per second Whitepaper: 250–1000
Transactions per second Real Usage: 10
Transactions per second Real: 3–5 per minute
Transaction fee: 0.03–0.25 USD
Smart contract language: Plutus
Number of nodes: 50+ stacking pools

Community overview

I haven’t noticed lot of activity in forums, chat channels and sites. Activity in their forum is around 15–25 new posts/answers per day. Most active posts are related to speculation, price predictions and etc. If you are looking for tech post you will be disappointed.

Documentation for developers

Black point to ADA team. Lack of documentation for developers. It’s full of docs that says bla bla bla. Every second sentence is for something that is design and developed by academics, scientists and universities.

Software, Tools and SDKs

Again black point for ADA Team. You won’t be satisfied from their tools and SDKs. Actually you may be doubly disappointed because you may not found something that works and is easy for setup. It will take you a lot of time in setup just to try their technology.

Decentralisation

Everyone may participate in their network through stacking pool. Everyone may register stacking pool, but currently registration is closed. I don’t know what is the reason, but obviously Cardano team has control over network which is not ok for me.

Summary

Promising project with good ideas. They have to walk a lot of to became production ready for real projects. Keep in mind that they currently doesn’t support smart contracts on mainnet.

 

Overview

EOS is a platform for scalable decentralised applications. The platform allows making thousands of transactions per second. EOS uses dPOS consensus algorithm. There are 21 block producers/nodes that create new blocks and verifies transactions. These 21 block producers are elected by EOS token holders. Everyone that have EOS native tokens may vote for block producers. It’s not easy to become block producers because you should have an expensive hardware infrastructure for servers with good performance and 100% uptime. EOS provide a complete infrastructure for storage, smart contracts, computation, and user authentication.

Compared to Ethereum EOS wallet/account/auth system is different. In Ethereum you need just a wallet with public/private and ETHs to start sending/receiving money. In EOS first, you should create wallet which holds your accounts with public/private keys. After that, you should find somebody to broadcast your account to the network or to pay to some site to broadcast your account. It’s weird why you should pay for something that is free in other blockchains. In EOS transactions are free, but when you broadcast a transaction it costs RAM, CPU and network bandwidth. Your available bandwidth is based on how many tokens you have and how many of this tokens are stacked for RAM, CPU and net. Тhe conclusion for the transaction: with 100–120$ you can make 250–350 transaction for value transfer. For an example deployment, if simple contract takes over 100$ on testnet, I haven’t tested it on mainnet.

Technical specifications

Consensus: dPOS
Block time: 0.5s
Transactions per second Whitepaper: “milions”
Transactions per second Real Usage: 10–100
Transactions per second Real: up to 4000
Transaction fee: “free”
Smart contract language: C++
Number of nodes: 21 and over 300 in waiting list

Community overview

Compared with Ethereum community it isn’t big as Ethereum, but there is good activity in forums and sites. There are a lot of technical posts. People are hospitable and ready to help you.

Documentation for developers

The best documentation compared to others competitors. Everything is well structured, strict and without needless information. All the information that you need to start EOS dApp development is on their site.

Software, Tools and SDKs

They have various tools and SDKs. They are well documented and easy to use. For almost one month I haven’t found a bug or something that works in a dull way.

Decentralisation

Block producers may take decision for the network. For example, they may vote for what to be developed in the future or what to be changed. They also might vote to block a specific account, to censor transactions. The worst thing is that they can delete transactions and data. Block producers have all control over the network.

One more bad thing is voting for block producers. Around 10–15 accounts holds over 50% EOS coins. These accounts are owned by EOS team and exchanges. So they can vote their block producers. This problem is not only in EOS ecosystem, but it is also a problem in all blockchains where you can vote with your tokes.

Summary

EOS is the most promising project which can be competition to Eethereum. I have tried EOS in dApps combined with ETH and it works pretty cool. As I said their software is well designed and easy to use. Integration in dApps is easy as Ethereum.

Overview

Neo is a distributed network for smart economy which includes digital assets, digital identity, and smart contracts. Neo also is known also as the Chinese Ethereum. NEO uses Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance (DBFT) algorithm — consensus mechanism that allows the system to resist the Byzantine Generals problem.

Neo system includes NeoX protocol that implements cross-chain interoperability. NeoX allows exchanging different assets on different blockchains. NeoX ensures that if something goes wrong entire transaction will be rollbacked. Neo also has a good solution for storage called NeoFS. NeoFS is distributed storage based on DHT (distributed hash table) technology. Time of quantum attacks is still not here, but Neo is prepared with a technology called NeoQ — Post Quantum mechanism based on Lattice-based cryptography.

Technical specifications

Consensus: dBFT
Block time: 15–20s
Transactions per second Whitepaper: 1000–10000
Transactions per second Real Usage: 0–1
Transactions per second Real: 10+
Transaction fee: http://docs.neo.org/en-us/sc/systemfees.html
Smart contract language: C#, F#, vb.net, Kotlin, Java, Python
Number of nodes: 30–60

Community overview

As I said Neo is called Chinese Ethereum and bigger part from the community is from China. It’s good for people that are familiar with Chinese. I haven’t noticed a lot of activity in chats and forums, but there are enough useful posts.

Documentation for developers

Neo has a good documentation. It’s well ordered and you can easily get a hold of Neo. Keep in mind that most of the content is in Chinese.

Software, Tools, and SDKs

Neo software is tailored for Windows. So if you want to use on Mac or Linux you will need to make some compilations. There aren’t many tools, but enough to do development.

Decentralisation

One big red flag for Neo, because if you want to network as master node you should be whitelisted by Neo development team. As far as I know, currently all whitelisted nodes are owned by Neo and they aren’t accepting new nodes. Personally, I wouldn’t use Neo.

 

Overview

Practically IOTA isn’t a blockchain, IOTA is tangle. Tangle is data structure that each vertex have two or more connections with previous vertexes. IOTA may be called messaging system for electronic devices. One cool thing is that transactions are free. First thing that maybe may pop in your mind is how to network is protected by spam. To broadcast a transaction you should do a small Proof of Work which verifies two previous transactions. The algorithm that is used doesn’t require expensive hardware. For an example you may mine a transaction from your smart bracelet. One big difference from other blockchains is that IOTA scalability grows up with the usability of the network. Theoretically that means IOTA may handle millions transactions.

IOTA consensus algorithm is a little bit different. Transactions should be verified by 50–100 times to be confirmed.

There is one weak part of IOTA. When you do PoW you should verify two previous transactions, but how you choose which two transactions? Theoretically, it is possible to make a 51% attack. IOTA has resolved the issue by adding coordinators in the network. Coordinators tell you which transaction to verify. I haven’t found information on how many transactions coordinators may handle.

One thing that I don’t like in IOTA is snapshots. Periodically they do network snapshot and delete all transactions and all data. They keep only wallet balances. So you can’t use it store important data.

Technical specifications

Consensus: POW
Block time: No blocks
Transactions per second Whitepaper: Theoretically unlimited, but coordinators can’t process more than ~1000
Transactions per second Real Usage: 10+
Transactions per second Real: 1000
Transaction fee: free
Smart contract language: doesn’t support smart contracts
Number of nodes: yes

Community overview

Community with low activity. There is enough technical post from where you can find useful information about IOTA. For example, I have tried one of their chat channels a few times and the fastest answer was after 30 hours.

Documentation for developers

I think that they need to improve their documentation because the information is not enough to start developing apps on IOTA. Most of the things that I found were in forums.

Software, Tools, and SDKs

A lot of libs for different platforms and languages. Lack of documentation for their tools, but they are easy and intuitive to use.

Decentralisation

As I mention there are coordinators. All coordinators are owned by IOTA team and if they want they may censor transitions and block specific wallet.

Summary

Obviously, if I found a case where should build communication between IOT devices I will use IOTA. It would be great to see IOTA without coordinators

Overview

Stellar network is focused on moving money fast, reliable and with low fees. Also, they provide peer to peer exchange of assets/cryptocurrencies. Stellar goal is to connect finical institution and people easily and to reduce costs. For an example transaction for value transfer cost around 0.0001 USD.

They also provide cross-border transfers through the ledgers. Ledgers are like banks that manage accounts and exchange different assets.

Technical specifications

Consensus: SCP
Block time: 3–5s
Transactions per second Whitepaper: 1000+
Transactions per second Real Usage: 20–50
Transactions per second Real: 100+
Transaction fee: 0.00001 USD
Smart contract language: SCP
Number of nodes: 200+

Community overview

There aren’t a lot of community members. I saw a few team members that help others in forums, but all in all, there isn’t a lot of activity.

Documentation for developers

Their documentation is well structured, easy to get in details with their technology.

Software, Tools and SDKs

I haven’t played a lot of their software and tools, but my first impression is well-designed tools, easy to use and good documentation.

Decentralisation

As far as I know there aren’t any centralised points. Everyone may join the network.

Summary

A really promising blockchain which will fit perfectly in a project that requires micro payment with low fees.

Overview

I would call Aeternity “Bulgarian Ethereum” found by Yanislav Georgiev Malahov. Ae is a platform that provides scalable blockchain for smart contracts. Currently, they still don’t have mainnet and most of the features are in development stage. It’s really cool that they support 3 smart contract languages: Sophia, Varna and Solidity. It will be really easy to switch from Ethereum to Aeternity. One more thing that I really like is that they will support oracles and state channels in first layer language, that means oracles may be accessed inside smart contracts.

Technical specifications

Consensus: POW/POS
Block time: 15s
Transactions per second Whitepaper: n/a
Transactions per second Real Usage: n/a
Transactions per second Real: n/a
Transaction fee: n/a
Smart contract language: Solidity, Sophia and Varna
Number of nodes: n/a

Community overview

Currently, community is still small. There aren’t a lot of technical posts. If you face any problem probably you won’t find any solution in any forum or site. Ae team is very supportive. Before 1, 2 months a met a few guys from Ae team and they look really promising and enthusiastic.

Documentation for developers

Obviously lack of documentation. As I said some of their features are still in development and don’t have any documentation.

Software, Tools, and SDKs

Similar to the documentation. Tools and SDKs without/ with scarce documentation that makes setup and usage really hard.

Decentralisation

As far as I know, everyone will be allowed to participate in the network. Without any centralised points or any control/censor over the network.

Summary

I’m waiting to see their mainnet and to play a little bit more with ae technology and software.


Summary

Ethereum is still best choice for dApp development and smart contracts. There is lot of documentations, tools and SDKs. It’s easy to integrate it in any system. Network is not fast as other blockchains, but is most reliable and secure.

I believe that when other blockchains are production ready with software, SDKs, tools and clear concepts, Ethereum will be ready with solution for the current problems in the network.

I think that EOS will be the first stable chain from the competitors, definitely after Ethereum.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Savov
Blockchain Developer
As part of Limechain, Veselin is focused on Blockchain development, more specifically dApps, smart contract, distributed technologies. In addition, he has a vast experience in building and setting up hardware for cryptocurrency mining.