Aptos is a new Layer 1 blockchain that is faster, more secure, and more scalable than other L1 blockchains that are live today. It was built by former Meta engineers, who also developed the Move language for this blockchain. Aptos is launching their mainnet in Q3 of 2022.
Pontem is currently working in partnership with Aptos to build foundational dApps for their growing ecosystem. These products, such as our Liquidswap Automated Market Maker (AMM), Move Code Playground, an EVM implementation, and more, will help fuel adoption of Aptos. But why are we laser-focused on Aptos?
In short, we believe Aptos is the best Layer 1 blockchain (meaning a standalone primary blockchain, such as Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, or Avalanche) in the crypto space today. Let’s dig deep into Aptos and see exactly why Pontem chose it as our partner.
Aptos was founded by Mo Shaikh (CEO) and Avery Ching (CTO). The two first worked together at Meta (formerly Facebook), specifically on the Diem blockchain and Novi wallet projects. Shaikh led Strategic Partnerships at Novi, while Ching was a Principal Software Engineer on the crypto platform team at Novi.
Their focus was on creating a blockchain that advanced the “decentralization movement,” without sacrificing “reliability, safety and usability.” Shaikh and Ching felt these problems held back global blockchain adoption, from “from the average individual to the largest enterprises in the world.” That’s why they re-assembled the original “creators, researchers, designers, and builders of Diem, the blockchain that was first built to serve this purpose.”
Aptos raised a staggering $200 million from the biggest players in crypto and Silicon Valley, including a16z crypto, Multicoin Capital, ParaFi, Haun Ventures, PayPal Ventures, FTX Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, and more. This amount puts their valuation in “unicorn” territory - that is, above $1 billion.
The main technical feature of Diem that was brought to Aptos is the Move programming language. This language was originally developed at Meta to provide security and scalability for Diem. Now, it’s doing that for Aptos.
The key to understanding Move’s advantages is its use of resources. Simply put, resources are a highly protected method of storing key information in a system. Resources have high status in the code architecture, ensuring they can not be copied or unintentionally deleted.
Move stores crucial information, such as tokens and smart contracts, as resources, giving the language much improved security over competing blockchain programming languages. Move is used to implement all of the key elements of Aptos, including accounts, transaction fees, a standard library, validator node management, and configuration.
Aptos was built with security in mind, so it has numerous other features beyond those built directly into Move. The blockchain uses a powerful consensus mechanism known as “DiemBFT v4,” derived from the HotStuff protocol designed at Diem.
The Aptos consensus protocol is deemed to be Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT), which refers to the Byzantine General Problem. Imagine a group of generals who must decide together on battle plans. They suspect someone in the group is a traitor and providing false information. Their ‘dilemma’ is how to make a plan given these circumstances. In decentralized blockchains, the Byzantine General Problem refers to participants, particularly validators, who must work to confirm or deny transactions correctly without being able to implicitly trust each other. This is a common source of potential blockchain exploits.
Aptos’s BFT protocol keeps the network running smoothly, regardless of the actions of one validator, while also maintaining world-class speeds. Aptos uses a reputation system to update validator rotations and synchronizes voting using “pacemaker.” This system fully validates transactions in less than a second (a measurement typically called ‘time to finality’), which makes it one of the fastest blockchains in production.
Aptos also has numerous features that protect end users from having their accounts exploited. Remember those famous stories of users who lost their crypto because they couldn’t remember their key? Aptos has built new, secure methods for key recovery, as well as key rotation systems that prevent fraud.
Aptos is designed to be a future-proof blockchain, used around the world by both individuals and enterprises. But for that to happen, it needs to have world-class speed.
As we explained in a recent article, blockchain speeds can be measured in two ways: transactions per second (TPS) and time to finality (TTF). TPS refers to throughput, or how many transactions the network can commit per second. TTF refers to the amount of time between starting a transaction (e.g. sending crypto to a friend’s wallet) and that transaction taking effect (e.g. your friend having access to those tokens in their wallet).
Although Aptos is still in a testnet development stage and not fully operational, it is already outperforming competitors. Its TTF is less than 1 second, ranking it among ultra-fast chains like Avalanche and Fantom. In the right environment, its TPS can reach an industry-leading 160,000 Currently, the team plans to reach 10,000 TPS in the near term, and well on the way to 100,000+.
So how does Aptos achieve these speeds? There are several key features that make it happen.
First, Aptos decoupled the consensus mechanism from the execution pipeline. This means that transactions can be organized almost like an assembly line, with consensus and execution occurring separately and optimized for simultaneous speed. Aptos also improved the HotStuff BFT engine to validate most transactions in just two network trips. This is far faster than the many rounds of voting other consensus mechanisms require to securely validate transactions. Finally, Aptos storage and data structures are optimized to improve speed and keep fees low.
Aptos bills itself as “the safest and most scalable Layer 1 blockchain.” “Safe” is easy to understand, but what does “scalable” mean? It refers to the ability of a system to “cope and perform well under an increased or expanding workload or scope.” As global adoption of blockchains accelerates, the performance requirements of those increases exponentially. As crypto and DeFi are used to replace fiat currencies, traditional payment systems, and institutional banking, as NFTs become even more popular and valuable, and as DAOs are used to run more and larger organizations, the stakes only get higher.
Aptos recognizes this need and has learned from other blockchains that no matter how performant a system is, it can only go so far without reliability (see Solana). In order to avoid hard forks or downtime, Aptos manages validators on-chain. This makes it simple to vote on and execute upgrades. Robust testing has allowed Aptos to make several major upgrades without downtime and upgrade the network as needed.
Aptos’s use of state sync is one of its most fundamental future-proofing advances, which also greatly improves speed. In other blockchains, validators add new blocks to the chain by executing transactions, and other network users then replicate this data to use it. But Aptos, with its state sync protocol, allows non-validators to distribute this data to ensure everyone in the ecosystem is in sync. Furthermore, Aptos uses an accumulator to sync network nodes. Instead of downloading the entire transaction ledger, a node can use the accumulator to get the latest transaction.
In addition to Pontem, which is building foundational tools for the Move ecosystem, Aptos has partnered with other companies to accelerate their growth. One of the most intriguing is Google Cloud, whose technology allows Aptos nodes to be set up in less than 15 minutes.
The Aptos developer testnet was launched back in March 2022. It reached a peak of 18,000 full active nodes, making it the largest known proof-of-stake node community running today. The first stage of the incentivized testnet ran between May 24 and June 9, with only 100 validators were selected out of 30,000+ submissions. The first stage was a success, helping to identify bugs and vulnerabilities and strengthen the Aptos network.
In addition, a large and active Aptos community has been forming on Discord and attending “Move Mondays” streams on Twitch. A hackathon held in May yielded numerous exciting projects in just 36 hours, such as “wallets, AMMs, games, NFT infrastructure, order books, and more.”
Pontem Network is a product studio building the first-ever suite of foundational dApps for Aptos. It includes Pontem Wallet, the first wallet for Aptos, which is now in its 1.6 version. Download it from the Chrome Web Store.
You can use Pontem Wallet to store and send any tokens issued on the Aptos testnet. The wallet is integrated with Liquidswap, the first DEX (AMM) for Aptos, also developed by Pontem Network. The DEX features both regular uncorrelated pools and stable pools for correlated assets. It also has an integration with the Topaz and Souffl3 NFT marketplaces for Aptos.
Pontem’s other products include the browser code editor Move Playground, the Move IntelliJ IDE plugin for developers and the Solidity to Move translator ByteBabel - the first implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine for Aptos.