Ripple: New XRPL update is a „gamechanger“


21. November 2020

Recently, Fugger’s open source protocol, Ripple, announced a new feature for XRPL: the negative Unique Node List. It allows the network to continue to move forward despite a failure, making it a true „gamechanger,“ according to Ripple’s CTO David Schwartz.

Less than a week ago Ripples CTO, David Schwartz, published an article about the advantages of the XRP ledger. In it, he argues that the XRP ledger offers a more cost-effective and secure solution to proof-of-work based block chains because it is based on a network of independent validation nodes that constantly compare their transaction records.

Now Ripple’s CTO David Schwartz has announced an additional XRPL feature that he calls the „absolute gamechanger“. Each server in the XRPL has a Unique Node List (UNL) that lists faulty validators and is available even when the validators are offline.

Negative UNL works despite failure

Thus a special characteristic of the Negative UNL of the XRP ledger consensus protocol is that it allows the network to continue to function despite a failure. In the long term, it could thus promote the sustainable maintenance of the network, the website says. In other words, the update mainly affects those validators that are working incorrectly and are offline due to external circumstances. These include, for example, internet problems, hardware repair or hacker attacks. On XRPL.org it says the following:

The „Negative UNL“ is a list of trusted validators that are assumed to be offline or not working. This in turn is explained by a consensus of the other validators. Validators in the „Negative UNL“ are ignored when determining whether a new ledger version has reached consensus.

However, the negative UNL has no influence on how the network processes transactions or what transaction results are achieved.

XRPL update still in the test phase

According to Schwartz, the update is currently still being checked for further errors in the test network Rippled 1.6.0. Therefore it is not yet available online. The update makes it possible to find validators quickly and easily using a complex list of selection criteria and to connect them to the network. So they say:

When selecting a validator, performance is not the only criterion. Jurisdiction, institutional commitment, network redundancy, commitment to the network and many other factors must be taken into account. The biggest advantage of the negative UNL approach is that it makes it much easier to say ‚yes‘ to more different validators. Even if they run on a single house connection with a tiny machine in someone’s living room.

UNL reduces risk for the integration of new validators

According to Schwartz, the Unique Node List drastically reduces the risk of integrating new validators with the network. For example, if more than 20 percent of trusted validators go offline or can no longer communicate with the rest of the network, the network stops validating new ledgers because it cannot reach a quorum. In special cases, when validators go offline once or twice, the remaining validators can use the UNL to gradually adjust their active UNLs. Consequently, the network only needs 80 percent of the online validators to reach a quorum.

Decentralisation creates risk

According to Schwartz, the XRP ledger generally addresses one of the fundamental principles of Bitcoin Hero, namely decentralisation. Having no central authority to dictate the rules that network participants follow creates complexity and risk, says Ripples‘ CTO. This is because the participants cannot agree on the rules on which the block chain is based. In his publication entitled „Beyond Proof of Work: the XRPL Consensus Solution“ he describes it as follows:

The XRPL Consensus Scheme with validators provides a cheap, reliable, decentralised and fast solution to the problem of double spending. Its design also allows the network to be upgraded if the participants agree, without the risk of random divergence.

Thus, the XRPL highlights the energy benefits that contrast with the massive and cost-inefficient use of electricity in PoW-based networks. Unlike Bitcoin, XRPL does not rely on a mining process to verify transactions. Thus, the digital asset XRP is particularly characterised by its scalability and speed of transfer, even in direct comparison to Bitcoin. Several Ripple executives have already pointed this out, including their CEO, Brad Garlinghouse. According to Schwartz, Bitcoin’s consensus protocol is thus a technological impasse.

Ripple-Swell Global Conference on CBDCs

This year’s Ripple Swell Global conference brought together financial services and block chain technology leaders in a live stream. Among the speakers present were David Mills from the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and Ulrich Bindsell from the European Central Bank (ECB). Discussions and speeches at Swell 2020 focused mainly on the digital currencies of central banks. Here the representatives of the world banks admitted that their organisations are lagging behind the central banks of China, Sweden and the Bahamas. Especially when it comes to real progress towards a digital central bank currency (CBDC). The ECB and the FRB’s task is therefore to promote innovation and to harmonise it with the existing infrastructure.

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