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Cronos Roadmap Update — Sept 2022
Chain priorities for the coming 12 months, and a glimpse of what Cronos 2.0 will look like.
Cronos chain priorities for the coming 12 months, and a glimpse of what Cronos 2.0 will look like.
The crypto ecosystem has continued to build at warp speed during the first 9 months of 2022.
We have seen substantial progress in blockchain technology across the Ethereum, Cosmos, and other ecosystems who are making great strides in improving user experience, security, scalability, and eco-friendliness. Cronos, in particular, has been carrying its weight as one of the world’s top chains for the next billion Web3 users, with transactions that cost only a few cents, and are carbon neutral.
During the first semester of 2022, Cronos achieved all-time highs of more than 900,000 users, more than 300 Dapps, 4.8 billion USD in total value locked (TVL), and 480,000 transactions per day. Cronos is firmly established as a top 10 chain. While activity has slowed down given the current global economic climate, the Cronos value proposition has been validated by end-users and developers, and we should therefore continue to build to prepare for the next bull market.
Our ambition for the next cycle is twofold:
Deliver scalable technology to onboard the next billion Web3 users. This will be made possible by advances at the Cronos protocol level, but also through our continued partnership with Crypto.com and the Crypto.com DeFi Wallet which enable one-click transfer to Cronos in most of the world’s top cryptocurrencies.
Foster a sustainable DeFi, NFT and Web3 gaming ecosystem. We will continue to work with application creators to increase the user-friendliness, security, transparency and utility of dApps.
At the beginning of 2022, we published a list of development priorities for Cronos. On September 22, we announced that Cronos is coming out of beta. The roadmap for the next few quarters is summarized below:
Let us look in more detail at where we are and what lies ahead.
The big picture goal is unchanged. Cronos aims to scale DeFi, NFT, and Metaverse applications massively and facilitate frictionless end-user access.
Crypto.com, a Cronos strategic partner, announced in May that they have more than 50 million users worldwide. We want to empower this large #CROfam community and provide them with the tools to experience the full promise of self-custody, DeFi, and Web3 gaming.
Cronos has built collaborative relationships with other chains and ecosystems. For example, we continue to leverage the best modules from Ethereum and Cosmos and to contribute to Cosmos open-source projects. Our approach is all about interoperability and cooperation.
Protocol and database scaling — phase 1
Since going live, Cronos has not stopped producing blocks. More than 50 million transactions have been safely recorded to the ledger.
The development team has focused on optimizing the performance of the chain. We call this “phase 1” of protocol and database scaling.
Cronos has experienced two major upgrades (v0.7.0, then v0.8.0 shortly after) and several minor ones. The next major upgrade (v1.0.0) is currently in testing (under the v0.9.0 denomination) and is expected to be deployed to mainnet in Q4.
Achievements to date are as follows:
The block size has been increased 4X, from 10 million gas to 40 million, further improving the scalability of Cronos chain.
RocksDB has been introduced as an additional database option, which results in better node performance for most use cases.
The “fee market” module has introduced a dynamic fee structure to the network in order to manage potential future congestion. For the time being, this module has been configured to have limited impact, as both network utilization and transaction fees are at a reasonable level.
Cronos is now carbon neutral thanks to the low energy consumption of its validator network and the acquisition of nature-based carbon offsets.
As a result of these improvements, users and developers have been able to enjoy higher transaction throughput, and faster and more up to date responses from nodes and from the Cronoscan block explorer.
There is still significant room to increase the scalability of current Cronos technology. The next few network upgrades will focus on the following priorities:
Mempool prioritization, initially by ordering transactions according to the priority fee, then implementing prioritization at a deeper level thanks to the upcoming ABCI++.
Further increase of block size (currently at 40 million gas), more efficient block creation logic, and potential reduction of block time (currently at 5–6 seconds).
Storage optimization, in order to reduce the amount of disk space required to run nodes and execute transactions. The EVM’s state database is about to be refactored to speed up contract execution and reduce data size significantly (>90%) by decoupling the EVM storage from Tendermint.
At the infrastructure level, optimization of the free JSON-RPC endpoints offered by Cronos Labs to developers. The goal is to improve the consistency of responses when queries are routed to different nodes.
Reduction of node start-up time.
Incorporation of new Cosmos functionalities, such as interchain accounts, IBC relayer incentivization, and Tendermint peer-to-peer networking improvements.
These optimizations, taken together, should allow Cronos to reach similar transaction throughput as most of the other top 10 EVM-compatible Layer 1 and Layer 2 chains.
Protocol and database scaling — phase 2
The next phase of protocol and database scaling will enable the Cronos ecosystem to onboard hundreds of millions of Web3 users and to support the high network traffic that the next bull market is going to generate.
Future technology choices should meet the following conditions:
Continue to support EVM compatibility. Given the size and richness of the Ethereum developer ecosystem and related tooling, we plan to continue to support Solidity smart contracts and the development of composable EVM-based decentralized applications.
Reliably deliver high transaction throughput (from millions to tens of millions of transactions per day in live conditions).
Leverage open-source projects. The Cronos team has a history of giving back to the open-source community and plans to be actively involved in any technology that we leverage.
Cronos is launching two main initiatives to achieve its objectives:
The first initiative is the deployment of Rollup technology to the Cronos ecosystem. Several open-source options are already available, among those being used in the Ethereum ecosystem.
In the short to mid term, we expect that these options will be most relevant for application-specific use cases that require heavy throughput, such as high-profile games.
Cronos Next Level
Cronos Next Level is a R&D project that will explore novel approaches for high throughput without compromising on application composability, meaning that it will not be restricted to application-specific use cases. The approach is to push Cronos technology to its limits by addressing the bottlenecks inherent to the Ethereum Virtual Machine: speed of execution, and speed of storage input/output.
The design of Cronos Next Level is still at an early stage and relies on two work streams: parallelization of smart contract execution (potentially leveraging EIP-2930), and modularization of storage (potentially leveraging a so-called data availability layer).
Connectivity and interoperability
From Day 1, users have been free to move their holdings between Cronos and every major chain via their Crypto.com account. In a world where using a cross-chain bridge can be a nerve-racking experience, this level of connectivity has been hugely beneficial to Cronos users.
As Cronos is built with the Cosmos SDK, IBC technology is available to create bridges with other Cosmos chains. Today, this includes connectivity with Crypto.org Chain, Cosmos Hub and Akash. More bridges can be set up depending on user demand (please visit the Cronos Discord server to give feedback).
The Cronos Gravity Bridge, poised to be positioned as the canonical bridge for ERC20 transfers between Ethereum mainnet and Cronos mainnet, has been undergoing public testing since June 28. We hope to move to production in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Connext, an independent third party bridge protocol, has been available as a temporary solution for stablecoin transfers for some of the more crypto-savvy users. Cross-chain bridges always entail some level of risk, hence the use of a Crypto.com account is recommended for most users.
Ecosystem, infrastructure and tooling
The Cronos chain is only as useful as the applications created by its rich ecosystem of dApp developers.
During the first 9 months of 2022, the number of Cronos applications and services grew to around 300, including several dApps who were created natively on Cronos and have since reached the top 5 or top 10 of their respective verticals across all chains (e.g., VVS, MMF, Tectonic, Ebisu’s Bay).
In 2022/23, we expect further enhancements to the visibility and discoverability of dApps. Additionally, Cronos Labs will continue to deploy and scale up its existing programs to attract or support new projects:
Cronos Ecosystem Grants program (around 40 grants already announced).
Cronos Accelerator (9 start-ups in the first cohort started in July 2022, with more cohorts in the pipeline).
Hackathons, to be organized by Cronos or with partners, like the gaming & metaverse hackathon that just finished yesterday.
The Cronos Labs team has also made tremendous progress adding developer tooling in 2022, including:
Wallets: more than wallets to date, including Crypto.com DeFi Wallet, MetaMask, Trust Wallet, Zapier, Magic/Fortmatic, Web3Auth, and many other wallets;
Cronos Play: plugins and SDKs integrated or published for Web, Unity, Unreal, and C++ game developers;
Dapp development frameworks: all the usual Ethereum tools work on Cronos (Hardhat, Truffle, etc.), plus Moralis;
JSON-RPC endpoints and data indexers: RockX, Blockdaemon, Covalent, with more announcements expected soon;
Oracles: Band Protocol and Witnet.
If you are an application creator and require additional tooling, please reach out to the Cronos team in the Cronos Discord server, and also send Cronos integration requests to the relevant third-party teams directly to speed things up.
Other chain enhancements
We welcomed Blockdaemon as the 27th validator. Going forward, we expect gradual decentralization of the chain. However, as network scalability is a high priority for users, the focus is on network optimization first.
Transaction fees are an important consideration for end-users and developers alike. At the time of writing, payments cost 1 cent and NFT minting costs around 10 cents on average. Transaction fees should be as low as possible to enable mainstream users to access DeFi and gaming applications, but not so low that they do not incentivize network validators to participate in the security of the Cronos network.
Fees are currently at an adequate level and the protocol operations team will continue to monitor transaction patterns and the needs of Cronos’s various stakeholders.
We are incredibly excited by the progress of the Cronos ecosystem so far and have never been more confident about our mission. Cronos is one of the projects that is here to stay and take advantage of the next bull market.
Feel free to join the Cronos discussion channels on Discord to share your thoughts!