With the Stargate upgrade and the implementation of Inter-Blockchain Communication, the Cosmos roadmap as laid out in the original whitepaper is complete. But what does this mean for Cosmos and the wider blockchain community as a whole? And what happens next?
Stargate in a Nutshell
Stargate comes with a number of impressive improvements, including efficiency gains of 10–100x, a 96x faster full node sync, and 20x faster upgrades. But the key component of the upgrade is the mainnet implementation of Inter-Blockchain Communication, usually abbreviated IBC. As the name suggests, IBC is a protocol that enables blockchains to connect to each other to exchange information and value. With the implementation of IBC complete, the basic infrastructure for the “Internet of Blockchains” is finally in place.
What’s possible with IBC?
“While each city is unique, some cities play a special role in supporting this great web…Port cities are where distant cultures and economies and imaginations come together as dynamic, vibrant living spaces. The Cosmos Hub is one such port city, with trade routes to the largest blockchain economies.”
—Ethan Buchman & Sam Hart, The Cosmos Hub is a Port City
To date, despite the growing prevalence of one-to-one bridges between popular chains, the blockchain ecosystem remains largely a collection of independent, siloed networks. With IBC in place, the coming years will see the construction of a thriving interchain ecosystem built on the Cosmos Hub. In addition to the more obvious pieces of the puzzle — bridges to Ethereum and Bitcoin, cross-chain Uniswap-like automated market makers — we can expect to see the development of new kinds of decentralized applications that would have been difficult even to conceive of before the advent of an interoperable network of blockchains.
What happens next?
Two things need to happen before IBC is fully up and running.
First, because Cosmos is governed by the community of ATOM token holders, a governance proposal to “switch on” IBC will need to pass. This is unlikely to meet with any resistance and could take place as soon as early March.
Second, existing Tendermint blockchains will need to upgrade to the latest version of the Cosmos SDK. According to iqlusion co-founder and Cosmos developer Zaki Manian, this process is expected to take 1–2 weeks of work for most dev teams.
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