Oasis Labs is raising funds through an ICO for Ekiden – Japanese for a long-distance relay race – with which it seeks to address prohibitive scalability (high costs, poor performance) and suboptimal security in the Ethereum network. Ekiden acts as a generalised solution for all Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) based blockchains, which lowers costs of utilising it.
How does it work?
Ekiden has a 4-layer, discrete architecture designed to achieve high performance and security, consisting of: application, computation, storage and consensus layers. Ekiden combines blockchain with an EVM-scaling solution held offchain which utilizes hardware based Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) to increase throughput in a secure, offchain setting. This generate utility in the fields of decentralised finance, healthcare and development of decentralised applications.
Ekiden is scalable because of offchain execution of Smart Contracts through TEE-supported computational nodes, wherein each node replicates all computations and discretely runs the consensus protocol, thus separating the execution of Smart Contracts with consensus maintenance. To achieve a parallel performance in the execution of Smart Contracts, concurrent output from multiple TEE-supported computer nodes may be merged.
Ekiden is secure because all data in its network is encrypted, secure hardware is utilised, and the compute layer uses verifiable proofs. This extends to encrypted Smart Contracts wherein only zero-knowledge proofs are recorded onchain. Ekiden guarantees that Smart Contracts are kept secret with automatic key encryption, similar to PGP encryption.
Why is it better than ETH?
One of the main strengths of Ekiden is its backwards compatibility with the Ethereum network allowing for existing contracts written for Ethereum to be supported by Ekiden via EVM implementation, allowing Smart Contracts thereunder to automatically inherit protocol guarantees, including offchain high performance and secret Smart Contract state. The support of all compatible programming languages will aid with adoption per developer familiarity. Preliminary tests of the Ekiden prototype network have proved promising, with reports of x600 greater throughput, x400 less latency and x1000 less transaction fees compared to Ethereum.
Thoughts on the team.
Oasis Labs has a well-established team bringing theoretical and applied expertise, through previous academic and start-up experience, with start-up sales and consultancy provisions to major enterprises including Yahoo and FireEye.