New “Velvet” Fork Promises Upgrades Without Controversy

The velvet fork is a mechanism for upgrading blockchain software, different than soft or hard forks.

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Velvet is well known as a sign of nobility in everyday life, but in the crypto industry, it’s now the name promising a new and adoring mechanism for upgrading blockchain software.

This is the hype behind velvet forks at least, a way for upgrading crypto code that has some high-profile influencers intrigued.

The velvet forks were first mentioned in the December 2017 paper. It describes the mechanism as one that allows for gradual deployment without affecting the miners that have not upgraded to the new rules. In this way, a velvet fork acts similar to a soft fork in that users that upgrade to new rules are still compatible with users that have not decided to upgrade.

The research assistant of Imperial London College, Alexei Zamyatin said that the most interesting part is the idea that you can implement some new concepts to permissionless blockchains without necessarily having the agreement of the consensus participants’ majority to do so.

“It’s a pretty simple concept”

According to Zamyatin, it’s a pretty simple concept and not something complicated. Alexei along with some other researchers co-authored a new paper that analyzes where the mechanism can be applied. He presented it in Curacao during the Financial Crypto 2018 conference a few weeks ago. The paper claims that the velvet fork does not require the support of participants’ majority and it may avoid rule disagreement forks from happening altogether.

In the crypto space, there have been 2 types of forks. These are the soft forks and the hard forks. While community sees the soft forks as less disruptive as they are backward-compatible, they can still be controversial if used to initiate changes that not all users agree with. Also, hard forks have a bigger impact because they can split a blockchain in two in the case not all users agree to update to the new rules.

However, with velvet forks, some researchers believe the crypto world can get around some of the disruptive politics that often bog down major changes to the code.

The idea was first coined by computer scientists who worked on building proofs that can be used to improve sidechains, using a layer-two cryptocurrency technology to push transactions off-chain.

Are we going to see Velvet forks to the popular cryptocurrencies?

While it has not become widely-used as a way of upgrading, velvet forks exist  today in various forms. However  researchers argue there was not an official name for this mechanism before this recent research wave. In addition, the velvet forks have some weak points as well that can potentially cause problems. Therefore, we may not see any velvet fork for major cryptocurrencies coming soon.

Also read: Binance is set to launch its own Blockchain

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