Delayed Proof of Work Explained

04.12.2018

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Delayed Proof of Work (DPoW) is a consensus algorithm designed by Supernet as part of the Komodo project. It is basically a modified version of the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm that makes use of Bitcoin blockchain’s hashpower as a way to enhance the network security. By using DPoW, Komodo developers are able to secure not only their own network but also any third-party chain that ends up joining the Komodo ecosystem in the future.    


How Does DPoW Work?

Taking Komodo as the only existing example, the DPoW consensus mechanism allowed Komodo’s blockchain to be built on top of Zcash’s PoW consensus as a way to avail its privacy features. The blockchain was then attached to the Bitcoin blockchain, leveraging a high level of security.

At intervals of ten minutes, the Komodo system takes a snapshot of its own blockchain. Then, the snapshot is written into a block on the Bitcoin network in a process called notarization. Generally speaking, this process creates a backup of the entire Komodo system, which is saved within the Bitcoin blockchain.

Currently, DPoW is being tested with Bitcoin, but it has the potential to be used as a tool for leveraging both the security and the features of almost any other existing blockchain.


PoW vs DPoW

One of the main goals of the Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm is to maintain the network secure, deterring cyber attacks such as Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks (DDoS). In a few words, the PoW algorithm is a piece of data that is very costly to produce but easy for others to verify and that is a crucial element of the process of mining. The mining within PoW-based blockchains is very demanding by design. Miners need to solve a complex cryptographic puzzle in order to be able to mine a new block. Such a process involves intense computational work, which is very costly in terms of hardware and electricity. The process of mining not only protect the network from external attacks but also verifies the legitimacy of transactions and generate new cryptocurrency units (as a reward to the miner that solves the puzzle). 

Therefore, one of the reasons that Proof of Work blockchains are secure is the fact that the mining process involves a very high financial investment. Consequently, the main difference between DPoW and PoW is the fact that DPoW does not create a blockchain from scratch. Instead, it leverages the hashrate and the security provided by another blockchain (Bitcoin in this case). Hence, DPoW makes use of a tiny fraction of the resources and energy of Bitcoin’s PoW algorithm, while still availing the security provided by the largest and oldest blockchain in existence.


Why Does DPoW Matter?

The Delayed Proof of Work consensus algorithm allows for frequent backups to ensure that in the event of a system failure or successful hack, the entire data can be quickly recovered. For a hack to successfully cause lasting damage the attacker would have to take down the Bitcoin network as well, destroying all of the snapshots that were backed up within the Bitcoin blockchain. Since such a scenario is very improbable, any blockchain that decides to implement the DPoW consensus algorithm will likely have a higher level of security.

It is worth noting, however, that the Delayed Proof of Work approach is only deployed within the Komodo ecosystem. Further testings, on different scenarios and on a larger scale are yet to validate the efficiency and reliability of such systems.

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