Here you will find the most frequently asked questions about RSK, its vision, technology and other aspects
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RSK is the first general purpose smart contract platform secured by the Bitcoin Network.
Smart contracts are contracts whose terms are encoded in computer language instead of legal language. Smart contracts can be executed by a computing network such as RSK, so that the terms of the contracts are automatically enforced by a protocol that all nodes in the network follow.
A smart contract can be fully autonomous if all the objects referred (such as currency, payments, obligations, property titles, assets, licenses) have a digital representation in the platform. When there is no such digital representation for an object, a smart contract can also refer to itself and react to changes in its state through special gateway nodes called oracles that provide external information to the blockchain. A smart contract also has access to time with minute precision, so time-restricted conditions can be represented.
A few examples of smart contracts are:
Distributed voting systems
Machine to machine payments
Supply chain tracking
Loyalty and rewards
Transparent public tenders
RSK MainNet network was released in early January 2018. The latest major version is called Wasabi.
Live statistics about the entire RSK network is available at RSK Stats. All the necessary source code can be found at our GitHub repository: RSKSmart.
All the project information, including a getting started guide, can be found on the RSK & RIF Developer Portal.
For latest news and updates, check out RSK Blog.
RSK currently supports all the opcodes and precompiles contracts of Ethereum, and therefore it can support any language that compiles to the EVM. This includes Solidity, Julia, and new or experimental programming languages such as Vyper.
The first drivechain proposal was created by us in 2016 and presented to the Bitcoin mailing list for evaluation (see https://github.com/rsksmart/bips/blob/master/BIP-R10.md). Those were turbulent times for the Bitcoin community, as the different subgroups were fighting either to increase the block size or to add SegWit. In that context, it was very difficult to achieve consensus about sidechain integration. Later in 2018, we renewed our efforts with an Improved proposal presented at Building on Bitcoin 2018.
We think that the ecosystem has to mature for trust-minimized Bitcoin sidechains to flourish.
The RSK blockchain is highly decentralised. RSK is merge-mined with Bitcoin, and has a hashpower that is second only to Bitcoin. As such, we believe it to be the most secure and censorship resistant smart contract platform; and the second most secure blockchain platform. Refer to RSK Stats for the live value of the RSK hash rate.
The conversion between Bitcoin (BTC) and Smart Bitcoin (R-BTC) is accomplished through a 2-way peg mechanism. This 2-way peg was bootstrapped using a federation of nodes managing a Bitcoin multisignature. However, RSK has transitioned its federation to a PowPeg.
A PowPeg is a multi-signature management system where participants’ nodes have no direct access or control over private keys. Keys are controlled by tamper-proof HSMs. These HSMs internally run lightweight RSK nodes which obey commands originating from an RSK smart-contract called the Bridge that orchestrate peg-outs. Only when such commands are confirmed by thousands of blocks produced by the mining network does the HSM proceed to sign peg-out requests. The PowPeg is a new security protection layered on top of the previous federation. It is unique in the crypto ecosystem and radically reduces the attack surface for the most frequent security breaches. The RSK community has collectively decided on a strategy for increasing the security of the peg based on defence-in-depth: Adding more security layers on top of existing ones, protecting the system from the failure of any of them. The ultimate goal is the complete decentralisation of the peg. Refer to the Security Model for the details around the security model of the 2-way peg.
RSK is the most secure smart contracts platform in the world. Security has been and will continue to be one of our key competitive advantages and we will keep working at it. Secondly, scalability which is one of the obstacles for blockchain mass adoption has been and will be one of our key strategic objectives. While independent groups are porting Ethereum scaling solutions to RSK, The IOVLabs innovation & research lab is working on layer 1 proposals to increase its transaction capacity, such as transaction compression, and signature aggregation. On top of this, the RIF payments protocols, such as the RIF Lumino Network also contributes towards this.
Decentralization should not be measured only by the number of nodes but also about the diversity and independence of nodes. A few hundred independent RSK nodes is enough to serve a global cryptocurrency network at this stage, but we must not feel confident by that metric alone. Our objective is that full nodes are run by a diverse set of individuals, organizations and companies. That is the true meaning of decentralization: Don’t trust, verify yourself. IOVLabs’ innovation and research area has developed several decentralized incentivizations mechanisms that may one day be integrated into full nodes. Also, we’ve put great effort to reduce the resource consumption of full nodes, such as the Unitrie proposal so that individuals can run nodes in standard laptops. Finally, we proposed a new technique for light clients RSK Improvement Proposal, to onboard those users running nodes in mobile phones. In summary, we’re making sure that the network remains healthy and decentralized in the future, both in node quantity and quality.
During the development process, public nodes can be used. DApps in production environments are recommended to run their own infrastructure.
The main reasons why developers choose RSK Smart Contract Network over other networks are security and scalability.
RSK is the most secure smart contracts platform. For up to the minute hashing power stats, please visit: RSK Stats.
RSK has less onchain activity than Ethereum, which is something you would expect for a blockchain that is one year and a half old. Therefore, the blockchain is much smaller than Ethereum. However, prior to the 1.0.0 release the RSK blockchain could grow as fast as Ethereum for equal transaction volumes. Now the blockchain state is ten times smaller.
More information about the Unitrie in Towards Higher Onchain Scalability with Unitrie
From the perspective of programming capabilities, RSK Network is on par with Ethereum as both natively supports Solidity Smart Contracts and the same APIs. These levels of compatibility make it seamless for developers to port their dApps to the RSK Network and leverage on their acquired abilities / knowledge.
From a perspective of security, RSK Network is protected by over 40% of the Bitcoin Network computing power and uses the same hashing mechanism as Bitcoin; which is the safest decentralized network in the world. Although other security models like EOS’ DPoS or Ethereum’s PoW based on general purpose hardware might bring some benefits, none of those networks have been battle tested; neither have they held as much value in custody, compared to the Bitcoin Network.
RSK combines the best of Bitcoin and Ethereum under a single platform.
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