What is a Monolithic Blockchain, and How Does It Work ?

What is a Monolithic Blockchain, and How Does It Work

Although we do not pay close attention to blockchain designs before investing in cryptocurrencies, learning these technicalities can always prove good for high returns. Among the two blockchain designs monolithic and modular blockchain, monolithic blockchain is the one that is present in the crypto realm for more than a decade. 

The monolithic blockchain is characterized by its ability to look after its core features such as consensus, data availability and transaction execution until their settlement. Comparatively, modular blockchains can outsource these responsibilities to an external chain. Both types of blockchain designs work on a different kind of architecture but are scalable. In this article, we will discuss monolithic blockchains in detail to understand how they work in cryptocurrency. 

What Is a Monolithic Blockchain?

Technically, the term monolithic means formed out of a single piece which explains why monolithic blockchains adopt a unified structure mechanism. A monolithic chain has nodes responsible for consensus, data availability, execution and settlement. Since these transactions are validated while on the blockchain, it serves as a good settlement layer also. 

Monolithic blockchain architecture

Data Availability

This feature of a monolithic blockchain attempts to have many transactions in the same block to have a high throughput and increase the block space. Data availability stresses the node service providers since they will have to increase their storage and drops them out if they do not have the required storage space. This functionality helps in enhancing decentralization and security.

Execution

It will become much easier to pass transactions with fewer nodes when they all arrive at a consensus rather than passing them to different nodes available worldwide. The greater number of transaction validators present on the blockchain network makes the transaction validation time longer. However, the number of nodes in the network can be decreased to enhance throughput or the number of transactions handled per second during the execution stage in monolithic blockchain. 

Consensus

Blockchains that do not need permissions to fulfil their primary objective keep the node entry requirement low. Bitcoin mining was possible in the early years using personal computers only but over time, mining bitcoin has become difficult. Miners now need to perform computational tasks on the bitcoin blockchain using special hardware and immense energy to mine new blocks. But in proof of stake blockchains, the locked capital which is known as stakes is utilized to secure the entire network. 

Settlement

This function of the monolithic blockchain ensures the commitment of transactions in the chain history. The nodes which propose new transactions must place an economic stake against the block’s integrity. In a proof of work blockchain, the stake energy is expended on new blocks while proof of stake chains needs validators to stake tokens to validate blocks. Such tokens can be confiscated from hackers who try to create a false or inappropriate transaction in the blockchain. 

How does monolithic blockchain work?

In a monolithic blockchain, every task is handled on a single or a group of layers which are closely-coupled chains operating on the same layer. It is important to understand that the network of interconnected blockchains handles every role like bitcoin’s node receive transaction from the peers, verifies the signature, and ensures the consensus satisfaction rule before settling the transaction. When the transactions are verified, it is added to the central pool or dropped. 

The miner can broadcast the block to peers if they are successful in locating the unique id for the candidate block (as required by the proof-of-work requirements). Once all transactions have been verified as genuine by other nodes, the new block is added to the chain. Other miners continue this procedure, gradually lengthening the chain by adding new blocks on top of the ones that have already been mined.

Benefits of a monolithic blockchain design

Safety

Monolithic blockchain’s one of the most advantageous features is its security as they can enforce safe transactions on their own nodes. The nodes see transactions executed on the blockchain and validate only after reaching consensus. It also solves data issues when the blockchain data is stored in multiple nodes. 

Usage

The monolithic blockchain can handle various functions alongside other functions and duties that provide a better proposition. With several users purchasing the token for different uses, a monolithic blockchain can provide more value in the long run. 

Simple to understand

Monolithic blockchains are comparatively easier to implement and design since developers have made many experiments over years in the blockchain technology from it. Comparatively, modular chains require high skill levels to design and implement due to the complicated system process.  

Drawbacks of a monolithic blockchain

  • Nodes on a monolithic chain can sometimes need re-executed transactions for verification of validity which makes delayed executions. 
  • Limits of blockchain node resources like bandwidth and storage can affect blockchain efficiency.
  • Monolithic blockchain proves inflexible as compared to modular blockchain and may restrict utmost optimization or desired quality production without outsourcing functions to the others.
  • Monolithic chains implement bigger block sizes to accomplish high throughput. This makes hardware requirements expensive and reduces the number of validators on the chain. This can lead to centralization or security risks since blockchain validation powers remain in the hands of few. 
  • When transactions are stored on chains, it may lead to the exponential growth of the blockchain size in time. This results in high hardware requirements on nodes besides disrupting decentralization purposes. 

Monolithic blockchain crypto examples

Bitcoin 

The first monolithic chain was Bitcoin, which required nodes to execute each block against their local copy of the blockchain. This improves security and decentralization but limits Bitcoin’s capacity to sustain high traffic or expand to accommodate additional users.

Ethereum

Without sharding and rollups, Ethereum is a single monolithic chain. This is why it places more of an emphasis on decentralization and security and has slower transaction rates.

Solana

Solana in contrast to Ethereum scales well and boasts rates of up to 65,000 transactions per second. Interestingly, these scale advantages come at the expense of decentralization and security—especially given the high hardware requirements for validator nodes, many of which operate in bare-metal settings rather than on cloud infrastructure.

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