Aptos, Sui, 0L Network, & Starcoin: A Detailed Comparison
The Move programming language, originally developed for Meta’s Diem project, has produced several exciting new blockchains. The best known, Aptos and Sui are exceptionally fast at over 100,000 tps, with scalable smart contract platforms. Other interesting Move-based networks include the 0L Network and Starcoin. Let’s see how they compare in terms of technology, performance, available dApps, and more.
What are Aptos, Sui and other Move blockchains?
A few months ago, we posted a detailed comparison of Aptos and Sui. It’s time for a massive update, because a lot has changed! Aptos launched on mainnet and already has a huge ecosystem, while Sui is inching closer to its mainnet launch. Plus, we have to talk about two more Move-based networks:
- 0L Network, a community-driven network that forked Diem in 2019;
- Starcoin, a multilayered solution that uses Proof of Work, which adopted Move for its Layer 2.
Aptos, Sui, Starcoin, and 0L are all L1 blockchains, or smart contract platforms. This means that various dApps like DEXes, wallets, games, and more can be built on top of them, just like on Ethereum or Solana.
Aptos, Sui, Starcoin, and 0L all use the Move programming language, originally developed for Diem. Diem was a blockchain project backed by Meta originally called Libra. Meta did pilot a wallet called Novi, but ultimately sold the project to the Silvergate crypto bank in January 2022.
For all intents and purposes, Diem is dead, but the most valuable assets that were created for it – Move and the Move VM virtual machine – are open-source and still in use.
Move is a safe and efficient language that helps developers avoid many of the coding errors that can result in exploits or hacks that are common to Solidity and other blockchain programming languages. In turn, Move VM is an alternative to Ethereum Virtual Machine – a secure environment for running smart contracts.
While Diem was intended to be a permissioned network, Sui, Aptos, Starcoin, and 0L are decentralized and permissionless: anyone will be able to join them as a validator.
By the way, MoveCon the first-ever Move conference will take place on March 3-5. Organized by Pontem Network, we’ll host representatives from Aptos and many other Move projects there. It’s free -- just make sure to register at movecon.live. Head to the end of this article for more details.
Founders and backers
The Aptos blockchain was created by Aptos Labs, led by two former Diem executives:
- Mo Shaikh – a veteran founder and expert on scaling businesses. He led the strategic partnerships division at Novi (Meta) and even spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
- Avery Ching, CTO – former principal software engineer at Novi, Facebook and Yahoo.
In July 2022, Aptos raised $150 million from investors including a16z (Andreessen Horowitz), Jump Crypto, and Multicoin Capital. This followed a $200 million funding round in March 2022, which also included a16z and Multicoin, together with Tiger Capital, Katie Haun, and more.
Interesting fact: the name Aptos comes from the language of the Ohlone Native Americans and means “the people.” The Ohlone live in California, where Aptos is based.
Sui is created by Mysten Labs, also based in California. The key figures on the team include four former Meta/Novi team members:
Evan Cheng, CEO – former R&D director at Novi and Engineering Director at Facebook.
Adeniyi Abiodun, Chief Product Officer – previously Product Lead at Novi and Head of Product at Vmware.
Sam Blackshear, CTO – previously Principal Engineer at Novi.
George Danezis, Chief Scientist - a professor of Security and Privacy Engineering at University College London and a former research scientist at Facebook/Novi.
Mysten Labs is backed by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Redpoint, Coinbase Ventures, and Electric Capital, among others. In December 2021, it attracted $36 million in a Series A funding round. In August 2022, the company raised another $300 million in a Series B round.
Starcoin was founded in 2018 before the Libra/Diem project was announced, and adopted Move almost a year later, in Q4 2019.
The network is developed by the Hong Kong-based Westar Labs and run by the Starcoin Foundation, which in turn is headed by the governing Council. The face of Starcoin is Tim Yang, CEO and co-founder of Westar Labs and former deputy R&D head at Weibo.
0L is special among the four Move-based blockchains because it’s a community-driven project. It doesn’t even list the team on the website. The project has no Foundation and has no VC backers. Rather, it relies on decentralized governance and contributions from many different coders (including some former Meta engineers), who work as volunteers. Project announcements come from the anonymous 0tt0 (@0x0tt0x0), “the Voice of 0L Network”.
However, there is at least one prominent blockchain personality among the creators of 0L: Zaki Manian, co-founder of Sommelier Finance and Iqlusion, former director at Tendermint Labs, and a key contributor to Cosmos.
Genesis of the 0L Network took place in October 2021. In February 2022, Mysten Labs announced a partnership with 0L with the aim to hold Move hackathons and mentorship programs together. However, those don’t seem to have materialized as of yet.
Move blockchains at a glance
Architecture and consensus
Aptos: AptosBFT consensus and parallel execution
At the core of both Aptos and Sui is the Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus model. Its main purpose is to maintain normal network operation, even if up to one third of the validators go offline or become malicious.
Aptos relies on an advanced version of BFT consensus called AptosBFT. We covered it in detail in our recent article on Aptos consensus, but here’s the gist:
- The leader (who changes with every round) suggests a block, and the rest of the validators vote on it. All the validators communicate with the leader, reducing the total number of messages compared to chains where validators also communicate with each other.
- Once everyone agrees that a block is valid, it becomes final. In Aptos, this takes less than 1 second.
- The leader can work on several blocks at the same time This is called pipelining.
Aptos can process up to 160,000 transactions per second thanks to a system called Block-STM. Transactions are first executed by the nodes in parallel and only then validated. If there is a problem at this stage, a transaction can be aborted and re-executed or discarded. If there are any other transactions that depend on it, they are also re-executed.
Block-STM saves a lot of time and resources and scales very well, leading to the idea of Aptos as the most scalable L1 chain.
Sui: skipping consensus for simple transactions
No consensus for simple transactions
Sui took a radical step by eliminating consensus for many transactions altogether. Simple transfers of tokens by their owner to a different address are confirmed virtually instantly. The sender broadcasts the transaction, collects validators’ votes (known as “handshakes”), and receives a so-called “certificate of validity.”
Sui does use a more traditional BFT consensus for complex transactions that involve “shared objects” – assets that can be modified by more than one owner.
This approach makes Sui a great L1 for specific use cases where a dApp generates huge numbers of simple transactions, such as games and airdrops.
Like Aptos, Sui uses parallel execution for simple transactions without dependencies, while complex operations are executed sequentially in precise order.
Narwhal and Tusk
The consensus engine used by Sui is called Narwhal and Tusk, after a whale that looks like a unicorn because of its long tusk.
Together, these two modules allow each validator to process more transactions in a unit of time. Narwhal is the mempool module, which makes sure that transaction data is available. Tusk is the consensus module, which orders the transactions. You can learn more about Narwhal and Tusk here.
Starcoin: PoW plus Move-powered Layer 2
Starcoin uses Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus, similar to Bitcoin (the so-called Nakamoto consensus), but with a series of twists. Scaling PoW networks has always been difficult, because your options are either to stuff more transactions into one block (block size increase) or produce blocks at shorter intervals (block time decrease). Both result in more orphan blocks, waste of resources, congestion, and security risks.
Starcoin’s Enhanced PoW can detect congestion, hashpower, and the number of orphaned blocks in real time. In response, it dynamically adjusts the block time, difficulty, and rewards to keep the throughput high without compromising security.
Layer 2, Stdlib, and Easy Gas
From the start, Westar Labs specialized in layered blockchains: architectures where security and consensus live on a Layer-1 chain and applications run on a Layer 2. This allows for a scalable and safe experience where udApps run almost instantly.
Starcoin’s Layer 2 is called Stargate (not to be confused with LayerZero’s Stargate Finance protocol). It supports smart contracts written in Move, while Layer 1 does not. It is a layered and modular solution that can support multiple sublayers. The goal is to provide all dApps with a single fast environment for execution and settlement.
Another innovation is the Stdlib protocol, which allows projects to deploy some common contracts out of the box, such as tokens, NFTs, and oracles.
0L Network: easy upgrades and Sybil resistance without staking
Delay Towers & Proof-of-Fee
0L attempts to stay as close as possible to the Libra/Diem technical vision, adding new features on top of the original codebase. It uses the same consensus, DiemBFT, but makes the network permissionless. This requires an adjustment to make the chain resistant to Sybil attacks, in which a single identity gains control over the network by launching a multitude of nodes.
Aptos and Sui solve this issue through staking (part of a Proof of Stake consensus mechanism), where one gets penalized for breaking the rules. 0L uses a different solution: Delay Towers. In very simplified terms, each node builds up its own persistent identity over time. As each period of time elapses, the node produces a proof (something like “It’s me, I’m still here”), and these proofs are chained together in sequence. A sort of a personal “blockchain of time” is formed, and even a Sybil attacker with infinite resources can’t forge it. Read more about Delay Towers here.
In October 2022, the community voted to replace Delay Towers with a new consensus model called Proof-of-Fee (PoF). Instead of block rewards, validators will be paid a tiny fee, calculated as a percentage of the total token supply divided by the number of validators. The fee can be adjusted through a governance proposal. Nodes will bid on validator slots for each epoch.PoF should minimize the cost of consensus while being Sybil-resistant thanks to the auction system. Proof of Fee will be implemented with v.6 of the 0L Network, projected to occur at the beginning of Q2, 2023; it will be interesting to see how it works in practice as the network grows.
Hot upgrades & parallel execution
From the beginning, 0L has had a way to submit upgrade proposals on-chain as code. Validators can vote on them, and if a proposal gets ⅔ of the votes, it is passed. The validators make the required changes in a coordinated manner, and the blockchain is upgraded without a hard fork and without intervention by a centralized entity.
0L Network has also implemented Diem’s parallel execution engine, which should allow for high throughput and fast finality, even if the workload grows dramatically.
Aptos: APT rose 400% in 2023
APT token trading started on October 19 on several leading exchanges, including Binance and KuCoin. By February 2023, APT already ranked in the top 30 tokens by market cap at $2.3 billion, with a daily trading volume of almost $700 million.
The total supply is 1 billion APT, of which only 13.48% are allocated to investors, far less than in most other networks. You can check out Aptos’ community-centered tokenomics here.
After trading between $3.5 and $6 for a couple of months, APT began an impressive rally in early January 2023, easily outperforming other L1 coins like ETH, BNB, and SOL. The price reached $19 on January 25 - a 440% increase since the start of the year. We looked into why APT grew so quickly in 2023 in this detailed article.
Sui: no mainnet token yet
As of February 2023, Sui doesn’t have a token yet and hasn’t announced when it plans to release one. Be careful, as there are many fake token airdrops and IDOs going around. All of them are scams!
Remember that Aptos launched APT alongside the mainnet. The same could potentially happen with Sui, so follow the updates on the transition to the mainnet carefully. For now, Sui has announced Testnet Wave 2, so the mainnet could still be a while away.
On testnet, Sui does have a token. You can download the Sui wallet extension for Chrome and claim SUI for free from a faucet in the official Discord. J These testnet tokens have zero market value.
Starcoin: STC since 2021
Starcoin’s STC token started trading in November 2021, making it the oldest token in the Move ecosystem. You can buy STC on Gate.io, Coinex, and BKEX, or on StarSwap, the main DEX on Starcoin.
Overall, it’s not a very well-known coin compared to other L1 assets, with a daily volume around $20,000.
The price of STC has generally trended down since launch , decreasing from $0.12 at the peak in August 2022 to $0.014 in February 2023.
Finally, we should mention a Starcoin feature called Easy Gas - a true first in the Move ecosystem. Starcoin users can pay gas fees in any token issued on Starcoin, not just in STC.
To store STC non-custodially (i.e. not on an exchange), you’ll need StarMask, the official crypto wallet extension for Starcoin. You can download it from the Chrome Store or GitHub. StarMask also supports Aptos mainnet, though it’s not integrated with any major Aptos dApps.
0L: 0L Gas mined, but not traded
0L Network’s token is 0L Gas and it’s been around since the mainnet launch in October 2021. However, the token is not liquid: it’s not traded on any CEX or DEX, and there are no published plans for any listings. Apart from paying gas fees, 0L is mainly used to reward the community.
The token was originally inflationary, but in October 2022, the community voted to stop its issuance completely. With v.6 of the network (Q2 2023), the token will be rebased, and validator rewards will be paid out of a special Escrow community wallet. Plans in place at present look to repurpose Carpe as an oracle network, allowing Carpe users to continue to earn tokens and add value to the network.
Presently, users can mine 0L using the Carpe wallet app for Windows and Mac. In the process, they build up persistent identities (just like validators do -- see the Technology section) and accumulate gas tokens to use with future dApps, or to sell if an exchange listing happens.
Aptos: 130,000 TPS and sub-second finality
Aptos is incredibly powerful, fast and scalable: it can process 130,000 tps (transactions per second).t. The use of parallel execution (Block-STM) and other innovations could increase this to 160,000 tps.
What’s even more important is the sub-second finality. For the end user, it’s not important how many transactions are processed, but that their transaction is finalized quickly. On Aptos this happens in less than a second, while on Solana, for example, it’s 6 seconds. Ethereum and Bitcoin take even longer.
Actual TPS on the mainnet depends on usage. The blockchain can process thousands of transactions per second, but users have to submit those thousands of transactions. For now, the TPS on Aptos mainnet is around 6.2 TPS (vs. 7.6 TPS on testnet), which is much higher than on Avalanche, for example.
Sui: “unlimited” TPS and near-instant finality
Sui’s performance targets are also interesting: the team claims their TPS is potentially “infinite.” As the network load grows, Sui nodes (called authorities) can keep adding workers (a sort of secondary nodes) to create a mini-network and execute more transactions.
In a 2022 test, a single Sui node processed 120.000 transactions per second when sending tokens to 100 different addresses using a single signature. When making transfers one by one to a single recipient every time, though, the same node executed only 20,000 TPS. This shows how Sui’s performance depends on the use case. But this probably won’t matter in the near future, as it will take the mainnet a while to acquire enough users to generate thousands of transactions per second. The current transaction load on testnet is around 17 TPS.
In most cases, time to finality on Sui is less than 1 second, just like on Aptos.
Starcoin: 4,600 TPS on Layer 1 and near-instant finality on Layer 2
Starcoin’s L1 reportedly has a capacity of 4,600 TPS. Looking at the official Starcoin explorer, we can see that on average the network processes 1 TPS, a reminder that theoretical capacity and actual load are two very different things.
As for finality, the target block time on L1 is 5 seconds. This would mean that a transaction takes at least 5 seconds to be confirmed (with 1 network confirmation). Starcoin Layer 2, however, targets near-instant finality for dApps, so , Starcoin may be able to rival Aptos from the end user’s perspective.
0L: no published performance targets so far
The team of 0L Network intentionally doesn’t benchmark TPS or time to finality. As the project is volunteer-driven and not seeking to raise funds, it presumably has no need to advertise performance targets.
However, since the network uses a variation on the LibraBFT consensus and the same parallel execution mechanism as Aptos, its potential performance should be in line with other Move-based networks, as long as there are enough validators: perhaps around 30K TPS or more.
Aptos: dozens of dApps and hundreds of NFT collections
As of February 2023, MoveMarketCap lists 218 projects building on Aptos. They include dozens of DeFi apps and NFT marketplaces that are already live. In fact, in just a few months, Aptos’ DeFi TVL reached $63 million, according to DeFi Llama.
To become part of the ecosystem, you’ll first need an Aptos Wallet, such as Pontem Wallet, Petra, Martian, Fewcha, or Rise. Next, fund it with some APT from a centralized exchange or using a bridge (see the FAQ).
All major Aptos wallets support NFTs. Moreover, Pontem Wallet features native dApp integrations, including liquid staking and NFT trading on Topaz.
Thanks to Pontem, there is also an Aptos app for Ledger. You can connect it to Pontem Wallet, import accounts, and interact with dApps with the safety of a hardware wallet.
DeFi on Aptos
Here are a few major Aptos DeFi projects on mainnet: (Check out our Aptos DeFi guide for more info.)
- Aptos DEX: Liquidswap, PancakeSwap, AUX, AnimeSwap, Obric, HoustonSwap, Aptoswap
- Yield farming: Liquidswap (Hydroponic Farms by Pontem), PancakeSwap (Syrup Pools), Eternal Finance (leveraged farming based on PancakeSwap), Mole Finance (leveraged farming based on PancakeSwap)
- DEX aggregators: Hippo, Kana Labs
- Liquid staking: Ditto Finance, Tortuga Finance; native APT staking will also soon be available in Pontem Wallet
- Lending: Argo , Aries Markets, Aptin Finance, Abel Finance
- Margin trading: Aries Markets
- Aptos stablecoins: Argo (USDA stablecoin that you can mint by depositing collateral)
- Launchpads: AptosLaunch, AptosLauncher
NFTs on Aptos: Topaz, Aptos Name Service & more
There are already hundreds of NFT collections on Aptos, including Pontem Space Pirates, Aptomingos, Aptos Monkeys, Bruh Bears, Pontem Dark Ages, and more. They are listed on Topaz, Souffl3, and BlueMove marketplaces, and trading volumes are serious. For example, the cumulative volume on our very own Space Pirates has already reached $800k.
Another NFT project worth mentioning is Aptos Names, which are personal domain addresses similar to Ethereum’s ENS. For just 5 APT, you can lease a human-readable address like yourname.aptos for one year, to use as your identifier in the metaverse. For example, someone can send you crypto by entering your Aptos Name in Pontem Wallet instead of a long 0x Aptos address.
Sui is still in the testnet stage and currently (as of February 2023) running Wave 2 of its incentivized testnet campaign. There is no set date for the mainnet launch, but you can get a Sui wallet and interact with many dApps on testnet or devnet.
- Official Sui wallet extension for Chrome: developed by the Sui team. Create a Sui address, send tokens and NFTs, etc.
- Ethos: a “wallet super-app” optimized for dApps, NFTs, and games.
- Suiet: a fully open-source wallet that supports TouchID and FaceID.
- Surf: a community-based wallet built by early supporters, with an upcoming multisig.
- Martian Sui: if you already have a Martian wallet for Aptos, you can simply switch to Sui.testnet or devnet in the network menu. Remember that your Sui and Aptos addresses will be different.
- Fewcha: if you are already using Fewcha on Aptos, go to Settings and switch to Sui devnet (note that it’s not the same as devnet).
All of these wallets include a faucet for testnet SUI tokens, but it often doesn’t work. To reliably get SUI on testnet, head over to the official Discord and post your address in the #testnet-faucet channel.
- BaySwap DEX: swap testnet BTC, USDT, ETH, DAI, and BNB. The DEX uses different liquidity curves for non-correlated assets and stablecoins (similar to Pontem’s Liquidswap).
- MovEX: another DEX on SUI (only devnet as of February 2023).
- SuiSwap: Sui DEX that supports more wallets than any other (9 as of February 2023).
- Cetus: popular token swap protocol on Aptos, now with a Sui version (testnet & devnet).
- Typus Finance: yield infrastructure where you can deposit ETH and SUi in yield-earning vaults.
- NojoSwap: another basic DEX on Sui.
- SeaPad - a launchpad with integrated DeFi features like swaps and staking.
- BeLaunch: a launchpad that has already reported 282 IDO rounds on testnet (You can experiment creating your own IDO, as long as you have 20 testnet SUI to pay the fee).
NFT and games on Sui
Where the Aptos ecosystem centers on “serious” DeFi, Sui has a focus on games. During Testnet Wave 2, you can access several fun NFT games through the dApp section of the Sui wallet:
- Frenemies: stake SUI to help your favorite validator get to the top of the leaderboard.
- Sui Capys - collect and breed cute capybara-like NFT creatures. You can even buy accessories for them, such as socks or a tablet.
- Sui 8192: a puzzle game where you have to move tiles around
- Sui Chess and Sui Checkers: ancient board games on-chain
- Got Beef: on-chain betting app.
- Capy.AI: a combination of Capys and AI. Generate a background for your Capy and enter the daily raffle.
Sui already has NFT marketplaces, Clutchy and Keepsake, where you’ll find testnet collections like meta_nft, Cars and Monsters, and Capy. You can also mint your own NFT using any photo.
Finally, we should mention the Web3 domain project Sui Name Service. Keep in mind that any domain you buy with testnet SUI won’t be transferred to the mainnet. If you want to keep it, you’ll need to buy it again.
0L: community missions rewarded with tokens
0L Network’s community is still pretty small, with around 6,000 users in Discord. But it’s tightly knit and very active in voting for proposals and completing tasks.
To experiment with 0L, you will need to install the Carpe app on a Windows or Mac computer. For Android and iOS users, there is Oollet, but it has very few users and limited utility. There are no dApps running on the chain yet.
After you’ve created an account, head over to the 0L Discord and use the onboarding feature. After that, you’ll be able to start mining 0L tokens and participating in incentivized missions and bounties. They are published in the Hustle Karme hub and include community moderation, analytics, testing, coding, etc.
Starcoin: Starswap, stablecoins, and an NFT marketplace
- Starmask - a browser extension, the most popular STC wallet, with additional support for Aptos.
- Bixin - originally for Bitcoin, this Android and iOS wallet also supports Starcoin.
- OneKey - a hardware wallet that supports Starcoin.
As Starcoin is a PoW network, you can mine it using ASICs. Mining pools that support Starcoin include Poolin, KelePool, and DxPool.
NFT on Starcoin
Starcoin developed its own standard NFT protocol with a few interesting features. For example, multiple NFTs of different types can be combined into a single NFT, and you can operate batches of NFTs in a single transaction. You can even disassemble an NFT into traits to create a new character.
You’ll find Starcoin NFTs on the KikoVerse marketplace, which also features an NFT avatar builder, a mini-DEX, and a launchpad.
DeFiLlama estimates the TVL of Starcoin at $700k in February 2023. Most of the TVL is concentrated on Starswap, the biggest Starcoin DEX. It currently supports five tokens: STC, the platform’s native STAR, plus three stablecoins: WEN, FAI, and XUSDT. There are also farms that pay up to 32% APY in STAR, as well as an integration with the PolyNetwork Ethereum bridge.
A few more DeFi projects on Starcoin:
- BFly Finance: a stablecoin protocol that allows you to mint FAI by depositing STC as collateral (the second-biggest dApp on Starcoin).
- Wenwen: another stablecoin project where you can deposit tokens to borrow WEN.
- Aswap: a very basic DEX.
Join Pontem and Aptos for the first MoveCon
On March 3-5, Pontem will host MoveCon -- the first major event centered entirely on the Move ecosystem! It will take place at EthDenver and livestreamed on Twitter, YouTube, and Discord. The event is free! Just make sure to register.
We’ll have over 40 speakers from Aptos, Pontem Network, Martian, Ethos, LayerZero, 0L Network, OtterSec, Aptos Monkeys, Bruh Bears, and many other projects, as well as VCs. Make sure to register for the Twitter Space ASAP, because spaces are limited.
Do you have any questions about the ecosystems of Aptos and Sui? Ask them on Pontem's Twitter, Discord, or Telegram!
Pontem Network is a product studio building the first-ever suite of foundational dApps for Aptos. Pontem Wallet, the first wallet for Aptos, is available for Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and iOS (and an Android app is coming soon!)
Use Pontem Wallet to store and send any tokens on Aptos. The wallet is integrated with our Liquidswap DEX, the first DEX and AMM for Aptos, as well as with Topaz and Souffl3 NFT marketplaces, Ditto and Tortuga liquid staking platforms, Argo and Aries lending protocols, and all other major Aptos dApps.
Our other products include the browser code editor Move Playground, the Move IntelliJ IDE plugin for developers, and the Solidity-to-Move code translator ByteBabel – the first ever implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine for Aptos.