Now that Ethereum has joined the proof-of-stake club, it has presented initial steps towards its ultimate vision of scalability, security, and sustainability. Another relatively young member in the other corner of the PoS club is Polkadot — the first Layer-0 protocol to connect independent chains into a single ecosystem.
In this article comparing Polkadot vs. Ethereum, we will explore in depth how and how these two ecosystems work and differ, examining their architecture, consensus mechanism, smart contract language, and long-term goals.
We will start with an overview of Ethereum and Polkadot, and then compare their different architectures, business logic, and ecosystems.
Ethereum's flexible ecosystem has expanded blockchain use cases beyond digital currencies and transactions, gradually developing into a decentralized network capable of executing smart contracts, while facilitating the creation of new business models such as DeFi, DAOs, and protocols.
Over the years, Ethereum has grown together with the community while taking advantage of its first-mover advantages. In September 2022, it successfully "merged" and changed the consensus mechanism on the chain from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. The inherent challenges under criticism set the stage:
Scalability: So far, Ethereum can handle 13-17 transactions per second. In comparison, centralized peers VISA has a processing capacity of approximately 24,000 Tps, and Solana has a processing capacity of approximately 4,220 Tps.
Gas fee: The fluctuation of gas fee is undoubtedly the biggest challenge that needs to be solved. Gas fee changes are driven by the price of ETH and the number of transactions being processed on the network. Slower transaction processing can cause network congestion and bottlenecks during peak periods, resulting in higher gas fees. This can be a hindrance for users trying to complete smaller transactions.
Ethereum hopes to eliminate its gas fee dilemma after the multi-stage sharding upgrade, which will divide the network into smaller parts, called "shards", and increase its throughput and network capacity. As Ethereum favors Layer-2 rollup, it hopes to scale its computational throughput without sacrificing decentralized validation.
Blockchains like Ethereum are independent and isolated systems, operating on their own silos with little or no interaction with other chains. Such protocol limitations are becoming a barrier to realizing the true potential of an operable and scalable network of blockchain coexistence. What we need is a way for blockchains to collaborate efficiently and securely at scale. This is where Polkadot comes in.
“What we currently have is a patchwork of separate and siled internet systems. This creates teams that, although they share the same vision, are skewed in the way they achieve it. Creating boundaries where there shouldn’t be- Dr. Gavin Wood (1st Polkadot Meetup), Ibiza - 2017
Polkadot was founded by Dr. Gavin Wood, former CTO of Ethereum and founder of Parity Technology. It is a sharded blockchain Layer-0 protocol that unites the entire network of different blockchains into a decentralized ecosystem. It makes the blockchain scalable and customizable, and provides interoperability and cross-chain communication with other blockchains.