In a groundbreaking move, blockchain infrastructure provider Skip Protocol has introduced a novel software development kit (SDK) that promises to revolutionize the way blocks are constructed on the Cosmos platform. Dubbed “The Block SDK,” this toolkit is set to offer block builders unprecedented modular control over transaction sequencing. This comes as a response to the limitations of the conventional block construction method, CometBFT, which has been the primary method for Cosmos chains.
Addressing the limitations of CometBFT
Cosmos chains have traditionally depended on the CometBFT method for block construction. While this method has served its purpose, it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most significant vulnerabilities associated with CometBFT is its susceptibility to maximal extractable value (MEV) issues. This vulnerability can lead to transaction frontrunning and sandwich attacks, which can compromise the integrity and efficiency of the blockchain.
The Block SDK is poised to address these challenges head-on. According to Maghnus Mareneck, the co-founder of Skip, the SDK is designed to allow individual blockchains to segment their blocks into distinct “lanes.” Each of these lanes can have its own set of unique functions. Mareneck elaborated, “The lanes have their own verification, inclusion, and ordering rules. They can be tailored toward transactions related to MEV, Oracle updates, light client updates, and more. Furthermore, each lane can be configured to process transactions differently, and lanes can be sequenced in relation to one another.”
Rethinking the mempool layer
The conventional process of transaction submission in a blockchain involves the transaction being sent from the frontend, orderflow, or relayer, after which it is stored in the mempool. This mempool eventually gets executed as a block, with transactions being processed in sequence.
However, Mareneck points out that it’s precisely at this mempool layer where The Block SDK brings about its transformative change. In the traditional setup, a transaction entering the mempool layer is typically added to the end of an extensive list of transactions. The Block SDK, on the other hand, allows for transactions to be placed in different positions and matched to specific lanes.
Mareneck further explained the process, stating, “The mempool then becomes a block proposal and is dispatched to all validators. Since these validators maintain a similar mempool structure, they can easily verify if the proposer has processed each transaction correctly.”
Tailoring block space for specific applications
The overarching goal of The Block SDK, as Mareneck emphasized, is to bolster the argument that app chains hold immense potential, especially when juxtaposed against monolithic blockchains where all functionalities are confined to the base layer.
App chains, with the aid of The Block SDK, can now customize their block space according to their specific applications. Mareneck illustrated this point by saying, “If you’re operating a super high-speed order book chain, your requirements for a mempool structure might differ significantly from a generalized smart contract chain.”
This flexibility and customization are not just theoretical. The Block SDK has already been implemented on the mainnets of several smaller blockchains within the Cosmos ecosystem. Mareneck also revealed that the Skip team is actively engaging in discussions with larger app chains in the Cosmos sphere, including Cosmos and Neutron, about the potential integration of its toolkit.
The introduction of The Block SDK by Skip Protocol marks a significant stride forward in the blockchain space, particularly for the Cosmos platform. By addressing the inherent vulnerabilities of the CometBFT method and offering a more modular and customizable approach to block construction, Skip Protocol is setting the stage for a more robust, efficient, and adaptable blockchain ecosystem. As more chains begin to adopt this innovative toolkit, the future of block building on Cosmos looks promising.