The Bitcoin scalability debate has been going on for a while now. The developer community is divided between the hard fork and soft fork and both the approaches are being backed by some of the prominent names in the ecosystem. As the community struggles to reach a consensus, a new Bitcoin scalability solution in the form of Teechan has now entered the picture.
Teechan is a creation of developers from Imperial College London and Cornell University, led by professor Emin Gun Sirer. Teechan offers a method to scale the Bitcoin network with secure hardware. Going by the reports, the hardware will be able to increase the capabilities of the cryptocurrency network without requiring any modifications to the Bitcoin Core code.
Teechan is an off-chain scaling alternative which shares few similarities with the Lightning Network. It is a practical, high throughput, low latency off-chain transaction protocol that leverages upon trusted execution environments (TEE) like the ones offered by Intel in the form of Software Guard Extensions.
The developers claim that the new solution can efficiently work through the transaction malleability while maintaining throughput in the presence of network latency. The Teechan development team also guarantee the technology to be more efficient by allowing infinite channel reuse, a requirement of no more than two transaction entries on the blockchain per channel and a potential throughput of 2480 transactions per second per channel.
The security features like the ones on Intel’s Software Guard Extension have a secure program whose contents are encrypted when they are off-chip and can only be accessed on-chip when the program is running. The decryption code for the contents of the program is connected to a certain hash and any changes made to the accessible hash will render the decryption keys inaccessible. It also allows for remote attestation where the computer running the secure code can declare that a particular has is being used to run the code.
The very remote attestation mechanism of Software Guard Extension comes in handy while handling transactions on Teechan. The hardware’s hash can be used as a verifying mechanism for both parties to a bitcoin transaction and as long as the hashes are registered on the blockchain, they can continue making transactions between each other without any further involvement of Bitcoin network.
While the Teechan concept looks promising at the moment, chances of it being implemented any time soon are remote. Currently, only Intel’s Skylake range of processors is equipped with Software Guard Extension, which makes it impractical until such solution becomes an industry standard. Also, there is still a need for consensus among the Bitcoin community for Teechan to be implemented, which may not happen anytime soon.
Ref: Hacking Distributed | Image: NewsBTC