What Is Xunlei ThunderChain Blockchain?
ThunderChain is a new blockchain platform developed by the Chinese company Xunlei Limited. ThunderChain is remarkable for its speed as compared with other blockchains: its innovative architecture can create a new block every second, and the network can theoretically facilitate thousands of interactions per second. No product actually deploys the software yet; the company is hosting a competition for software developers to develop decentralized applications (Dapps) that will use the service.
While ThunderChain's press release describes an immensely powerful technology, there is a frustrating lack of technical details, and it appears that the software is proprietary, which could limit its impact.
Who Is Behind Xunlei ThunderChain Blockchain?
ThunderChain is the work of Xunlei Limited, a large company based in Shenzen, China whose primary business is hosting cloud-based servers. The company was founded in 2003 and has quickly grown to employ over 1,500 workers. Little English-language information is available about the firm, but it is clear that the company serves clients around the world and offers a variety of software products for everything from enterprise-level hosting to entertainment sites.
How ThunderChain High Performance Payments Work
The exact technical details of ThunderChain have not yet been released in English, but the press release announcing its development mentions a few facets of the technology.
At its core, ThunderChain is a blockchain, meaning it can record and distribute data with complete transparency and security. To add new data to a blockchain, users send the request to the nearest node, which verifies that the addition is valid and then distributes this information to the entire network; there are a wide variety of ways that this verification can be securely and efficiently achieved, and ThunderChain claims that it has developed perhaps the fastest yet. Information entered onto a blockchain cannot be altered without corrupting the entire data structure, meaning that the information can be copied repeatedly without being compromised.
ThunderChain's press release notes that it will support smart contracts written in the Solidity language, making it compatible with Ethereum and the vast array of existing technologies that use this system.
ThunderChain relies on Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance, an algorithm developed in 1999 by MIT professors Miguel Castro and Barbara Liskov. This algorithm provides near-total security from nodes that may be malfunctioning by seeking consensus from a sufficiently large number of them; the architecture is robust enough that unless a large majority of the network's nodes are compromised, it can dismiss these faulty results without a centralized authority. Though several blockchain technologies, including Bitcoin, have explored this idea and its numerous variations, ThunderChain claims to use advanced optimizations that allow it to achieve this with remarkable speed.
Xunlei ThunderChain Blockchain Process Details
Xunlei is collaborating with several leading Chinese tech companies to sponsor a competition meant to find services suitable for use with ThunderChain. The competition, which began accepting submissions on April 20th, 2018, and will continue until June 15th, is being judged by a panel of six prominent businessmen and computer scientists who are evaluating the submissions for both technical merit and commercial potential.
Cryptocurrencies seem to be an afterthought in this initiative; the competition's webpage instead suggests that entrants focus on more innovative uses of blockchain technology, such as healthcare, education, and logistics.
Over one million Yuan (approximately $160,000) is available in prizes, and winners will receive business incubation and media exposure in addition to the prize money. The competition's webpage seems to indicate that all projects, including non-winners, will receive some attention from angel investors.
While the competition isn't explicitly closed to international submissions, and an English-language webpage describing the event has been published, it is clearly geared towards Chinese groups; all prizes are listed in Chinese Yuan, and the page describing the ThunderChain platform's technical details is so far only available in Chinese.
Xunlei ThunderChain Blockchain Launches Verdict
If ThunderChain's software is as powerful as its press release claims and its deployment competition attracts the caliber of talent that it seeks, this could be a very important innovation. However, it appears that no technical details to support these claims are available in English at time of writing, and the software's proprietary licensing means that programmers won't be able to scrutinize or learn from it.