Cosmos 101: The internet of blockchains
Cosmos is a Layer 0 protocol. It is not a blockchain on its own. Cosmos is a decentralized network of interoperable and independent blockchains — it is a blueprint for designing application-specific blockchains, called Zones. These Zones connect to the Cosmos Hub, a service provider to all the chains connected to it.
In the past few months, congestion on the Ethereum mainchain has driven applications to settle on alternative L1’s or on L2’s. Moreover, each new L1 and L2 requires awkward middleware or bridges to communicate with others. Conventional L1s also have a limit on the number of applications they can support, and they are not designed to talk to other L1s.
Cosmos fixes this issue, and takes a whole new approach to scalability. In Cosmos, blockchains are meant to be application-specific. They pass assets and other messages between one another. With Cosmos networks of application-specific chains are more scalable than chains where everything has to be secured by all validators. Cosmos Zones scale out “horizontally” through dynamic setpoints on acceptable counterparty safety assumptions. This means that Cosmos’ theoretical capacity is infinite.
Cosmos is built around the idea of interoperability. Cosmos believes that giving sovereign chains a shared communication standard is a natural step in the evolution of protocol design. Ethereum and other platforms will be able to integrate into this interoperability model as well.
Cosmos treats interoperability as an opt-in market process. Zones, and their users, choose their level of exposure to the security risks of other remote Zones. Chains in the Cosmos ecosystem use its Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. It’s a general communication standard devised to enable every necessary flavor of interoperability.
IBC is essentially a protocol that allows different blockchains to talk to each other”. It can be applied to build a wide range of cross-chain applications, including; non-fungible token transfers, token transfers, delegate calls between two chains (interchain accounts), and oracle data feeds.
Any blockchain that uses a consensus mechanism with finality can implement IBC and can join the Cosmos Network. ETH2’s Gasper, Polkadot’s GRANDPA, and Libra’s HotStuff are all IBC-compatible.
One of the best features of Cosmos is the Cosmos SDK. Most blockchains have to implement all of the networking and consensus code from scratch, but Cosmos provides template software to handle those functions. The Cosmos SDK makes launching a Zone as easy as deploying a smart contract.
Cosmos has a lot of advantages in terms of security. Most blockchains, including Ethereum use a uniform security model. Every application deployed on Ethereum shares the same security level. Cosmos’s security model, in contrast, is non-uniform.
Each Zone is allowed to choose the level of security sufficient for its purpose. Since Zones are responsible for their own security, their tokens and value capture mechanisms are more difficult to fork out, and races-to-the-bottom are less likely.
Cosmos is really unique because it achieves practical interoperability without enshrining a shared security layer. It is the only application to do so. Other L0s like Polkadot, use a shared security layer, which limits developers.
The Cosmos ecosystem has been growing rapidly and there are already some great chains. Terra, BSC and THORchain are built into the ecosystem. There are constant airdrops for ATOM stakers as well. As more and more chains enable IBC, Cosmos will grow exponentially. The ATOM community is already armed with incentives that attract more chains to transfer assets through it.
There is so much going in in the Cosmos ecosystem. I would check it out ASAP.