Ever since Satoshi Nakamoto published his whitepaper on Bitcoin, blockchain technology has garnered the public eye, and for a very good reason. Fast forward to 2022, it is currently being used quite literally everywhere. The main intention behind the invention of blockchain was to achieve transactions in a trustless environment – where no matter how powerful a single entity is, they cannot meddle and tamper with the information recorded in the blockchain.
However, to achieve this level of security and decentralization, transaction speed took a major hit, causing blockchains to be infamous for their low scalability. While many have been playing around with different consensus algorithms to increase the speed at which these transactions are recorded, this seems to always come at the cost of security and/or decentralization. A blockchain requires nodes to verify the transaction and thus can cost a bit in terms of transaction fees.
However, in due course of time, there have been significant technological advancements to solve the scalability issues. Many hold up Tangle as a suitable alternative, for instance.
You might have heard of Tangle already – but does it truly have an edge over the blockchain tech in the Tangle vs blockchain debate? Let’s find out in this post!
What is Blockchain?
If you aren’t aware of what blockchain is, or how it works – here’s a quick refresher for you.
Think of it as a digital ledger, consisting of all transactions that happen within its network, that is secured through cryptography. Each time a set of new transactions happens, a new block is created and is added to the system, linked after the previously created blocks.
Blockchain, quite literally, is a chain of digital blocks. Every single block has a unique link to the previous block – thus maintaining a complete history of all transactions.
All these transactions are verified by some nodes on the network (called “miners” on proof-of-work chains like Bitcoin – and as compensation for this effort, they are rewarded with fees). Once the transaction is verified, a block is created, and added to the chain. All nodes in the network have a copy of this chain, making it quite impossible to alter or impede the transactions in any way.
Advantages of Blockchain
- Security – Blockchain is one of the most secure ways of storing data. Once in the system, the data cannot be modified, altered, or deleted in any manner. Even if one attempts to tamper with the blocks – the hash code (unique ID for each block) will also change, making it easy to identify the meddling. For a person to attempt to take over, say the Bitcoin network, he needs to control 51% (or more) of the computing power in the network, which is quite an impossible task.
- Decentralization – The blockchain creates an environment where a user need not trust a single entity to ensure that their transaction has gone through. There is no entity governing and maintaining the blockchain.
- Immutability – Data entered in the blockchain can not be edited or tampered with, and is permanent.
Disadvantages of Blockchain
- Transaction Speed – To achieve this level of security – in blockchain, each transaction has to be verified by miners, making this a slow process.
- Scalability – With each transaction the size of the blockchain increases, and each node has to maintain a copy of the blockchain as it gets bigger. This is why along with speed, scalability is also a massive issue in blockchains. Many developers are attempting to solve this using blockchain layers.
- Energy Consumption – Although the world is currently moving towards energy-efficient consensus algorithms, the popular proof of work mechanism is one of the most energy-demanding systems in the world.
What is Tangle?
Like Blockchain, Tangle also creates a decentralized trustless environment for recording and maintaining transactions. Instead of the straight line of chains in the case of blockchain, however, Tangle uses a ‘directed acyclic graph’.
Tangle supports the implementation of IoT – interrelated devices can operate and communicate seamlessly within the network, without requiring human/computer intervention.
No miners are required in the Tangle network – therefore accelerating transaction speeds and lowering network fees.
Advantages of Tangle
- Lack of Miners – Since miners are not needed, no one needs to paid a part of the network fees or any kind of rewards. Plus, transactions are faster this way.
- Scalability – Tangle is highly fluid and scalable. The data is transported in small units, making even microtransactions easy and efficient to be recorded.
- Support for IoT – if your use case requires operational devices to interact and communicate with each other without human/computer involvement, Tangle is absolutely a no-brainer.
Disadvantages of Tangle
- Security – Tangle is not as secure as a blockchain network. Unlike blockchains, where over 50% of the nodes have to go malicious to launch an attack, even a 34% assault can make it easy to take over an entire Tangle network.
- Centralized in nature – Tangle uses a central coordinator node that acts as a checkpoint to ensure the validity of transactions.
- Lack of Support for DApps – While it is possible for decentralized applications to exist within the blockchain, the Tangle network has no such support.
Tangle Technology vs Blockchain: How Does Tangle Differ from Blockchain?
While both Tangle and Blockchain attempt to create a trustless network for recording transactions – they take a fundamentally different approach to achieving this. Let’s take a look at these differences that fuel the Tangle vs blockchain debate.
Blockchain is a series of linear, cryptographically connected data blocks. Tangle, however, is a group of data chains intertwined (read “tangled”) with each other. To make a transaction in Tangle, verification of the previous two transactions is enough.
Blockchain is immutable and more secure, as compared to Tangle. While a 51% attack is necessary for taking over a blockchain network, even a 34% attack is enough to take over a Tangle network.
Blockchain is 100% decentralized. It makes use of computer nodes from all across the world, and no single entity can oversee, authorize, or impede blockchain transactions.
Tangle, albeit being tagged “decentralized”, utilizes something called a central coordinator node as a checkpoint to verify the validity of transactions. Tangle definitely turns out to be more centralized in the blockchain vs tangle debate.
What Data Structure is Required for Tangle Technology?
While we’ve covered this sparingly earlier – the directed acyclic graph is the data structure required for the Tangle technology to function. As mentioned earlier, Tangle does not store data linearly. Imagine a tree, with branches intertwined with each other – that’s what a DAG looks like. Past transactions cannot be used in DAG to verify present/future transactions. Instead, each new transaction verifies two previous transactions, making it much more agile.
What are the Different Use Cases of Blockchain Technology?
Apart from the obvious money transfer use case, here are some of the popular use cases of the Blockchain technology
- Non-fungible tokens
- Decentralized applications
- Banking and finance
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical
We have covered these different use cases in detail in one of our previous logs titled “What are the Benefits of Blockchain”.
Tangle Technology vs Blockchain
Now that we have seen the definitions of the two technologies, their applications, let’s get down to the actual Tangle vs blockchain debate. Is Tangle better than blockchain? Has Tangle solved the infamous blockchain trilemma (Spoiler alert – no, Tangle has achieved speed at the cost of security and decentralization)?
The answer is quite simple – it really depends on your use case. Let’s see their differences based on these key factors:
If decentralization is what convinced you to migrate to the blockchain, then the invention and the popularity of Tangle have changed nothing for you in terms of where you stand on the blockchain vs Tangle debate. Tangle is more centralized, and therefore, more prone to errors and failures, as compared to the blockchain network.
DApps simply don’t exist on the Tangle network, and you’ll have to rely on blockchains should you want to create your own DApp.
2. Transaction Speed and Fees
If your use case is dependent on fast transactions, and with little to no fees charged from the users, Tangle is undoubtedly better for you. With scalable data packets, support for IoT, and zero transaction fees, Tangle is perfect for recording device-to-device microtransactions.
If you need something immutable and tamper-proof, blockchain wins out on the Tangle vs blockchain debate again. Between the two systems, blockchain is without a doubt the more secure technology. However, that doesn’t mean that the Tangle network is absolutely vulnerable to hacking attempts. A 34% attack is still borderline impossible on a huge network, especially if the network scales to the size of the Bitcoin network.
Tangle is more agile, scalable, and flexible, thanks to the DAG data structure that it depends on. Tangle is more fluid, and with each additional node to the network, it becomes faster and more powerful, unlike in the blockchain, where additional nodes make it heavier and slower.
While Tangle is definitely an interesting take on solving blockchain’s speed issues, it does so at the cost of decentralization and security. If you’re looking to create a DApp governed by a cryptocurrency, the Tangle network has no way to achieve that as of now. However, if your aim is to create a series of interconnected devices that transact within themselves seamlessly and without transaction fees – Tangle is definitely a great choice.
Hope this detailed article clears your doubts on the raging blockchain vs Tangle debate. Follow the Shardeum blog for more such informative articles, and be sure to hit us up on our socials should you have any queries!
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