MASS: The Scalability of Cross-chain Platform

7 min readNov 3, 2020

With the development of blockchains, the public attention has shifted from the initial consensus to computing represented by Ethereum, and then to the storage represented by Filecoin and the scalable cross-chain platform represented by Polkadot. The expectations for blockchain are getting higher and higher, and only being able to issue a cryptocurrency is far from satisfying people’s demand. A good blockchain platform should be able to satisfy the scalability as well as the ecological compatibility.

And MASS was given birth in such a period.

In people’s impression, MASS is a blockchain with the new PoC consensus algorithm, and this recognition is more in line with the current definition of the public chain MASSNet. Actually the MASSNet is only the starting of the MASS ecology. MASS has provided a natural cross-chain platform from the perspective of a shared consensus network, which has the features of scalability, efficient synchronization of cross-chain communication capabilities and a high degree of network security anchoring physical assets.

The Limitations of PoW and PoS Consensus Algorithms

In traditional consensus algorithms, a node can provide consensus for one blockchain at a time. For example, for BTC, BCH and BSV, chains that all adopt the SHA-256 protocol, miners can switch their computing power among the three chains but cannot provide computing power for multiple chains at the same time, which causes the computing power to be non-reusable and a relatively low efficiency.

Besides, in the traditional blockchain networks, each node has to deal with all things in the entire network, including transaction verification, calculation and storage, making it hard to improve the performance of the network. Ethereum 2.0 plans to improve the network processing capacity through sharding, of which the core concept is that each transaction can be seen and processed by only a small number of the nodes, so that all the nodes can process more transactions in parallel at the same time. The parachains in Polkadot are similar to the Shards in Ethereum, and the consensus of the parachains is completed by some verification nodes in the Polkadot network.

The Scalability of the MASS Capacity Consensus Algorithm

The MASS consensus engine is encapsulated by the MASS consensus protocol. Developers can build their own blockchains by calling the interface of the MASS consensus engine, and all blockchains built on this share the consensus provided by the same node network.

In the structure of MASS, these blockchains are called parachains. Compared with Polkadot, the parachains on MASS have stronger independence. Each parachain can have its own block generation rules and main chain selection strategy.

On the MASS consensus engine, the problems of non-reusable computing power and unscalable consensus algorithm can be easily solved.

Computing power reuse and multi-mining

The miners of MASS algorithm can run the mining software of multiple chains at the same time, and provide consensus for multiple chains basing on the same hard drive capacity. The process of MASS consensus is the process that miners search for the optimal proof in the capacity space. The query process is so fast that miners can provide consensus for different chains at the same time as long as the block generation cycles are different.

Take MASSNet as an example, its blocking period is 45 seconds. If there is another chain based on MASS consensus and its blocking period is 30 seconds, miners can provide consensus for both chains respectively without affecting each other.

The reuse of computing power can improve the efficiency of resource utilization and promote innovation, which is already reflected in the Ethereum system. At that time, in the PoW consensus algorithm, a node network can only maintain one chain. But on the Ethereum, ERC 20 Token can be generated by issuing smart contracts, and its ledger is maintained by the Ethereum node network. The nodes need to run the smart contract when maintaining ERC 20 Tokens, and charge a certain fee to the transaction initiator in the form of ETH. The price of ETH has reflected the prosperity of the ecological applications.

The innovative power of this economic model was so large that the ICO in 2017 was once in a position to replace VC. Although there were most of the foam at that time, it can still be seen that the reuse of computing power has brought innovation driving force.

The parachains in the MASS are similar to the smart contract on Ethereum that they share the consensus of the node network. Besides, the MASS parachain is a chain, not merely an ERC 20 ledger. It can have its own account system and freely choose to adopt the UTXO model like Bitcoin or the account model like Ethereum, which the ERC 20 ledger cannot achieve.

The computing power reuse of MASS is freer than the smart contracts of Ethereum. It can be imagined how exciting it would be if MASS finds a killer application like IC0.

Unlimited support for parachain issuance

In theory, the same miner can provide consensus for thousands of chains under the MASS consensus. However, as MASS has introduced the functions of computing and storage, the work of miners has gone beyond transaction verification. Basing on their own hardware conditions and mining strategies, miners can provide consensus for some of the parachains selectively. The whole node network can be combined freely to provide consensus for the parachains, which will further improve the performance of the entire network.

There are two major advantages of this solution. Firstly, there is no need to consider the randomness of nodes. Secondly, each chain is maintained by a relatively fixed group of miners, which has stronger independence.

Comparing with the consensus process of Polkadot parachains, he validators on the relay chain are randomly assigned to the attached parachain to check the transactions, which will be recorded on the relay chain. Each parachain requires at least five validators, and there are about 200 validators currently. The ultimate goal of the Polkadot network is to have 1,000 validators, which means that the Polkadot network can support about 200 parachains before the decrease in the network speed and efficiency.

The parachains on Polkadot are not completely open. The parachain promoters need to stake the Polkadot token DOT to obtain the consensus of the relay chain and compete for the limited card slot resources on the blocks of the relay chain. All consensus of the parachain ecology depends on the relay chain with a clear ceiling (as mentioned above, the performance will decrease after 200 parachains).

There is no such problem in the MASS ecosystem. We can conduct the reasonable deduction:

In the early time, miners can support a large number of chains, therefore they can provide consensus for parachains unconditionally, which also means that the threshold for parachain issuance is low enough.

Miners have the right to choose: As the value of fork gradually disappears (for example, we already have MASSNet so we don’t need MASSNet2), the work that miners need to complete has become more and more complicated, such as computing and storage. As a result, the marginal cost for miners to maintain one more chain increases, so the miner choose to maintain certain parachains. In turn, only the chains that are innovative with unique value and can bring benefits to miners can obtain the consensus support.

From here on, miners have played an increasingly important part in the ecology, and they are truly free to vote with their feet, instead of being represented, dominated and determined through the so-call governance in the PoS.


From the comparison of computing power reuse and autonomous unlimited sharding, it can be seen that the MASS solution is very elegant, and the consensus itself is scalable, which is an attribute that other consensus algorithms do not have.

Ethereum has solved the problem of computing power reuse, but loses the independence of the chains. While Polkadot has solved the shard expansion and the independence of the chains by parachains, but it has to provide consensus for the parachains by means of selecting validators randomly. In addition, there is an upper limit on the number of parachains.

The MASS platform has not only maintained the independence of the chains, but also delegated the right to maintain parachains to miners themselves. It does not adopt advanced technical solutions and everything comes from the uniqueness and advantages of the capacity consensus itself. Simplicity and freedom are the two magic weapons for development, and MASS have them both.

How Far is it to the PoC Application Ecosystem

By comparing with Ethereum and Polkadot, we have emphasized the uniqueness and advantages of the MASS ecosystem. However, we have to admit that MASS is still in its early stage of development.

After five years of development, Ethereum has begun to take shape in the construction of the underlying protocols and the upper-level applications, and it has become the most ecologically prosperous platform in all public chains. Entrepreneurs can implement their ideas on the platform, and the tools and interfaces that developers need can be basically satisfied.

Although the mainnet of Polkadot has just launched, its ecology is already trending a prosperous situation. The Substrate framework it provides can facilitate developers to build a parachain in a short time.

From the perspective of the economic model, both Ethereum and Polkadot have corresponding ecological incentive economic models. Ethereum is positioning as the world computer, and when more and more applications need to use this world computer, more and more ETH will be needed to pay for the gas fee. While the Polkadot token DOT has multiple ways of uses, for example, the parachains pledge DOT to compete for the slots, the nodes pledge DOT to become the validators and obtain certain benefits, and the governance voting rights when determining whether to build a new parachain. These usages have made the demand for DOT increase as the Polkadot parachains ecology getting prosperous.

On the other hand, the MASS platform has not yet formed a model no matter in terms of developer tools or the ecological incentives. Its current developing period is more like the first phase of Ethereum. It is hoped that the development community and the ecological community of MASS work together to explore a feasible path of development as soon as possible.




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