Hashgraph: The sustainable alternative to blockchain (Ep. 508)
SPONSORED BY HEDERA HASHGRAPH
When most people talk about Web3 or cryptocurrencies and related technologies, they usually mean blockchains. But blockchain is only the first generation of distributed ledger technology (DLT). As with any new technology, once people see how it works, new generations come along rapidly to address the faults in the previous ones.
On this sponsored episode of the podcast, Ben and Ryan chat with Matt Woodward, head of developer relations at Swirlds Labs. Swirlds Labs created the Hedera ecosystem, a DLT built on a hashgraph, not a blockchain. We chat about what the difference is between a blockchain and a hashgraph, Hedera’s focus on environmental sustainability, and why the Web3 version of “Hello, World!” takes a little more effort.
Hedera’s hashgraph is a third-generation DLT: it’s an open-source consensus algorithm and a data structure that uses a direct acyclic graph and two novel inventions, the gossip about gossip protocol and virtual voting.
Where Bitcoin can only handle between three and seven transactions per second, a hashgraph can support upwards of 10,000.
There’s been a lot of talk about the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. Woodward says that a single Bitcoin transaction uses 1000kW-hours—the equivalent of driving a Tesla Model S 5,500 km—while Hedera uses just 0.00017kWh per transaction, about 5.8 million times less.
Congrats to the winner of a Stellar Question badge, g.revolution, for their question What is an anti-pattern? 100 users saved it for later.
Find out more about Hedera and hit the start button. Connect with Matt, Ben, or Ryan on Twitter.
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Thank you Ryan & Ben for having me on the show! As a long-time community member of StackOverflow, it was an absolute pleasure!
I absolutely welcome healthy discussion from the community on everything we covered, so feel free to comment and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you all 🙂
Something’s not right in the wording of this post. A single transaction can’t possibly use 1 megawatt hour of energy; such incredible inefficiency would immediately render the network useless. Mining the next bitcoin *might* take that amount of energy.
Is the Office of Science and Technology a reliable source, or have they been infected by the same political hysteria that all of our other institutions have?
According to multiple sources (e.g. https://ccaf.io/cbeci/index), the whole Bitcoin network seems to use ~100TWh / year of electricity, or about 11.5GW of continuous power. So, basically 12 nuclear reactors working 24/7, just for Bitcoin.
There are apparently ~250000 BTC transactions every day ( https://www.blockchain.com/explorer/charts/n-transactions ).
100TWh / year / (250000 / day) is indeed very close to 1 MWh ( https://www.wolframalpha.com/input?i=100TWh+%2F+year+%2F+%28250000+%2F+day%29+to+MWh ).
I don’t know how valid it is to simply divide the energy consumption by the number of transactions, but if it is, the order of magnitude mentioned in the above post is indeed correct, and scary. Since BTC mining is required to validate the transactions, I dare say it’s not too wrong.
How would you calculate it?
Hey Eric, thanks for adding in all that detail – nicely done! I’ve added in some links to further info in the response to Robert above as well.
Thanks for listening to the podcast and contributing to the commentary 🙂
Hey Robert, thanks for taking the time to comment and be curious! There’s a great visual of the figures for this over at: https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption if that helps? There’s then the whole research paper behind that over at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/358861058_Revisiting_Bitcoin's_carbon_footprint
You’re spot on to question stats / maths – I’d definitely encourage you to dig deeper and see what you find!
If you’re interested to read a little more on Hedera and its energy footprint, I’d encourage you to check out the report by UCL available at: https://hedera.com/ucl-blockchain-energy
“Sustainable”, until the next Carrington event, which barely missed us by 9 days in 2012.
Thanks for the comment Jason!
Being mindful and responsible for our impacts on the planet is soo important – this is one of the founding principles of Hedera – making sure that we are both extremely low energy and carbon negative! Earlier this year we release v2.0 of our Guardian project which enables full discoverability and traceability of ESG assets, you should take a peek: https://hedera.com/blog/guardian-v2-0-the-next-generation-of-esg-marketplaces-built-on-hedera
I wish more attention to units would be paid when comparing numbers. Comparing Cost/Transaction of Tech A directly with Cost/Year of Tech B and the claim that this makes Tech B X times better is nonsense. In other words: if Hedera only runs one transaction per year then that would cost 160MWh which would make it 160x worse than bitcoin. Please stick to the same units when comparing numbers, thanks.
Hey Christian, thanks for taking the time to comment. You’re spot on, in the transcript it mismatches the energy cost per year (Bitcoin 200TWh/yr Vs. Hedera 160MWh/yr) and the cost per transaction (Bitcoin ~1000kWh Vs. Hedera 0.00017kWh). I’ll see if I can have that updated!
If you’re keen to look at numbers for Hedera – you can check out our dashboard over at: https://app.metrika.co/dashboard/hedera/network-overview?tr=1M
This month Hedera has seen 79.3M transactions (a big spike based on a current production use case load-testing before flicking the switch on full time. Exciting times ahead!
Hey Christian, just to let you know the team has updated the content to ensure the energy comparison between networks is consistent 🙂 Thank you once again!
Sustainability is a wonderful thing, but I’m getting massive marketing sales pitch vibes from that site. Seems designed for investors more than tech-oriented people.
Has some recognizeable third party talked about this supposedly-revolutionary technology? tried looking if Vitalik Buterin has commented on this but didn’t find anything. Hey, maybe a Lex Fridman podcast visit would do you guys good.
Hey Camilo, thanks for taking the time to respond.
I’d always encourage folks to do their own research on what works for them from a technology perspective – I can safely say that Hedera is very much focused on the tech, it’s what drew me in as an experienced dev.
Check out some of these resources and let me know if there’s a specific area of interest I can share other resources on for you:
– Get Started: https://hedera.com/get-started
– Documentation: https://docs.hedera.com/guides/
– How to Develop on Hedera: https://hedera.com/blog/how-to-develop-on-hedera-back-to-the-basics
– Developer Discord: https://hedera.com/discord
– Coding Tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcaTa5RR9SuA__8rzCKru8Y_F6iMJPEUD
Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like me to respond to regarding the technology. Totally appreciate the variety of networks out there in Web3 right now, so happy to provide any clarity you’d like 🙂
I understand this is an ad, but at least don’t spread lies when promoting your product.
1) Bitcoin can handle millions of transactions per second.
2) You say your centralized permissioned network can handle 10k TPS. Congratulations. Now replace that hashgraph with a DBMS like PostgreSQL or MongoDB and maybe it can achieve a million TPS as well.
3) It is meaningless to say how much energy a single Bitcoin transaction uses. Learn how Bitcoin works and you’ll see why.
Despite all this, there may be some legitimate use cases for Hedera Hashgraph, but comparing it to Bitcoin is disingenuous and meaningless.