Multichain projects in the crypto, symbolizing blockchain interoperability and axelar vs layerzero vs t3rn vs chainlink

Bridging the Divide: A Comparative Analysis of Top Multichain Projects in the Crypto Space

Alexander Wilke
May 29, 2023

The blockchain ecosystem has experienced remarkable growth, as of 2023, there are over 1,000 blockchains, catering to a wide range of industries and applications giving rise to an increasing need for multichain and interoperability solutions that ensure seamless integration and communication between different networks. 

In this blog post, we will delve into a comprehensive comparison of some of the leading multichain projects in the crypto space, including Cosmos, Polkadot, Avalanche, Chainlink, LayerZero, Axelar, and our very own t3rn. By examining their strengths, weaknesses, and unique approaches to solving the challenges of interoperability, we hope to shed light on the critical role these projects play in shaping the future of the blockchain industry.

As we embark on this comparative journey, we will take a closer look at each project's distinct approach to multichain and cross-chain communication, their underlying network architecture, the consensus mechanisms they employ, and the developer experience they offer. By dissecting these critical aspects, we will gain a better understanding of how each project uniquely tackles the challenges of interoperability and collaboration in the rapidly evolving crypto landscape. This in-depth analysis will not only highlight the innovative solutions put forth by Cosmos, Polkadot, Avalanche, Chainlink, LayerZero, Axelar, and t3rn but also provide valuable insights for developers, investors, and enthusiasts alike as they navigate the complex world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Comparison grid showcasing features and specifications of top multichain projects in the crypto space.
Comparison analysis of the top cross-chain and interoperability projects in crypto

Exploring Cosmos

Cosmos is a decentralized network that aims to solve the interoperability problem in the blockchain industry by enabling communication between different blockchain

  • Multichain Communication: Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol for seamless communication between different chains.

Cosmos uses the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol to enable communication between different blockchains. This allows for the transfer of assets and data between blockchains, making it possible for applications to access and use data from multiple blockchains.

  • Network Architecture: Decentralized network of independent blockchains, each powered by the Tendermint consensus algorithm.

The Cosmos network is based on a hub-and-spoke architecture, where the Cosmos Hub acts as a central hub that connects to multiple blockchains. This architecture allows for easier interoperability between different blockchains, as all blockchains only need to connect to the Cosmos Hub to communicate with each other.

  • Consensus Mechanism: Tendermint BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerant) consensus.

Cosmos uses a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism called Tendermint, which enables fast and secure transaction processing. Tendermint is designed to provide high throughput and fast finality, making it suitable for applications that require fast transaction processing.

  • Developer Experience: Cosmos SDK for building custom blockchain applications, extensive documentation, and developer support.

Cosmos provides a developer-friendly environment with a range of tools and resources to help developers build and deploy blockchain applications. The Cosmos SDK is a popular tool for building custom blockchains, while the Tendermint Core engine provides a modular consensus layer that can be used with any blockchain.

  • Speed:

Speed is a key feature of the Cosmos network. With Tendermint's fast finality and high throughput, the network is capable of processing thousands of transactions per second. This makes it possible for applications to handle high volumes of transactions and provide fast and efficient services to users.

What is Polkadot and how does it work?

Polkadot is a blockchain platform that enables the creation of multiple parallel blockchains, or parachains, that can interact and share a single global state. Its architecture includes a relay chain and parachains that can be customized for specific use cases.

  • Multichain Communication: Parachain and Relay Chain architecture for secure and trustless data exchange between blockchains.

Parachains in Polkadot can communicate with each other through a specific communication standard called XCM, or cross-consensus messaging. All messages in Polkadot's cross-chain messaging system pass through the relay chain, ensuring high security and interoperability.

  • Network Architecture: A multichain platform with a central Relay Chain connected to multiple parachains.

Polkadot uses a unique architecture consisting of a central relay chain and multiple parallel, customizable parachains. This architecture allows for high scalability and customization, while maintaining interoperability and security.

  • Consensus Mechanism: Nominated Proof-of-Stake (NPoS).

Polkadot uses a hybrid consensus framework that separates block production and block finality. It uses Nominated Proof of Stake consensus at the relay chain level, where nominators select trustworthy validators and stake their DOT tokens behind them. Validators participate in block production and consensus, while collators propose candidate blocks of transactions to relay chain validators.

  • Developer Experience: Substrate framework for building custom blockchains, detailed documentation, and a growing developer community.

Polkadot has a robust development community and provides developers with a high degree of flexibility and customization. It offers a wide range of development tools and resources, including the Substrate framework, which enables developers to build their own blockchains and parachains.

  • Speed:

Polkadot's consensus mechanism sacrifices some design flexibility of parachains to provide high shared security guarantees to them. However, the tradeoff is that there are a number of parachains after which time to finality would be meaningfully impacted. Overall, Polkadot is designed for high scalability and throughput, making it a promising platform for building complex blockchain applications.

Unraveling the Inner Workings of Avalanche

Avalanche subnets are a collection of blockchains that are validated by multiple groups of nodes. These subnets are free to choose their own consensus mechanism, including variations of Avalanche's novel repeated random subsampling based consensus. Each blockchain within a subnet shares computational and consensus resources but ultimately maintains its own state without any notion of a shared global state.

  • Multichain Communication: Supports multiple virtual machines and custom blockchain networks, enabling cross-chain communication and interoperability.

Cross-chain transfers within a subnet are relatively easier to solve because each subnet has a single set of validators for all blockchains within that subnet. However, cross-chain transfers across different subnets become more challenging since the validator set is no longer the same. In this case, external bridges with third-party relayers become important.

  • Network Architecture: Platform built on the unique Avalanche Consensus Protocol.

The Avalanche architecture is modular and allows for scaling super-linearly with subnet/validator growth. Each blockchain in the Avalanche ecosystem maintains its own state and has the independence to select its own consensus mechanism, validator set, and incentive design. Blockchains within the same subnet benefit from greater shared security guarantees that come with a shared validator set provided that it is sufficiently distributed.

  • Consensus Mechanism: Avalanche Consensus Protocol.

Avalanche consensus is built on the Snowball algorithm, which leverages repeated random subsampling to achieve consensus. The consensus algorithm is flexible and can be customized by subnets. Avalanche vs Snowman Consensus: Snowman and Avalanche are the two primary PoS-based consensus models in the Avalanche ecosystem that use repeated random subsampling.

  • Developer Experience: Developer-friendly platform with comprehensive resources, including Avalanche-X, a hub for tutorials, documentation, and tools.

Virtual machines dictate the application-level logic of the blockchain. Avalanche expects to have a suite of options for each individual blockchain to choose from, including subnet EVM, AvalancheVM, SpacesVM, and BlobVM. Beyond this, projects are free to implement their own custom VM.

  • Speed:

Avalanche is designed to process a high number of transactions per second, with the ability to handle 4,500+ transactions per second on its primary network. The network can also achieve near-instant finality, meaning transactions can be considered confirmed within a few seconds.

Decoding Chainlink

Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that enables smart contracts to securely access and interact with off-chain data and systems. Launched in 2017, Chainlink aims to solve the hurdle of the "oracle problem", which is the challenge of bringing off-chain data and information to on-chain smart contracts in a secure and decentralized manner.

  • Multichain Communication: Decentralized oracle network connecting different blockchain ecosystems by providing secure cross-chain data.

Chainlink enables multichain communication by providing a decentralized oracle network that can be used by any blockchain platform. This means that smart contracts on any blockchain can access and interact with off-chain data and systems through Chainlink's decentralized oracle network. This makes Chainlink a highly interoperable solution that can be integrated into a wide range of blockchain platforms and applications.

  • Network Architecture: Decentralized network of oracle nodes that provide off-chain data to smart contracts on various blockchains.

Chainlink's network architecture is designed to be highly decentralized and secure. The network is composed of multiple nodes that retrieve and aggregate data from various sources, and then provide this data to smart contracts. The nodes are incentivized to provide accurate and timely data through a reputation system that rewards good behavior and penalizes bad behavior. This ensures that the network remains secure and reliable, even in the face of malicious actors.

  • Consensus Mechanism: Proof of stake

Chainlink does not have its own consensus mechanism, as it is designed to be blockchain agnostic and can be used by any blockchain platform. However, the network uses a decentralized reputation system to incentivize good behavior and penalize bad behavior among its node operators. This reputation system ensures that only trustworthy and reliable nodes are selected to provide data to smart contracts.

  • Developer Experience: Extensive documentation, support for multiple programming languages, and a strong developer community.

Chainlink provides a robust set of tools and resources for developers to easily integrate with its oracle network. This includes developer documentation, sample code, and a wide range of APIs and SDKs. Additionally, Chainlink's network is designed to be highly flexible and customizable, which allows developers to tailor the oracle network to their specific needs and requirements.

  • Speed:

Chainlink's network is designed to be highly scalable and efficient, which enables it to provide fast and reliable data to smart contracts. The network uses a distributed architecture that allows for parallel processing and aggregation of data, which ensures that data is delivered quickly and efficiently. Additionally, Chainlink's network is highly optimized for low latency, which makes it ideal for real-time applications that require fast and accurate data.

Understanding the Functionality of LayerZero

LayerZero is a blockchain network designed to provide high-speed communication between multiple blockchains, enabling interoperability and seamless transfer of assets and data across different chains. Here is an overview of LayerZero's features:

  • Multichain Communication:

LayerZero enables multichain communication by creating a network of interconnected blockchains. It uses a unique protocol called LayerZero Interconnect (LZI) to facilitate communication between blockchains. With LZI, blockchains can exchange information and assets in a decentralized and trustless manner, without the need for intermediaries.

  • Network Architecture:

LayerZero's network architecture is designed for scalability and high performance. It uses a sharding mechanism to distribute the workload across different nodes in the network, enabling faster transaction processing and higher throughput. Additionally, LayerZero uses a layer-based architecture, where each layer is responsible for a specific function, such as consensus, networking, or storage.

  • Consensus Mechanism:

LayerZero uses a consensus mechanism called Proof-of-Stake (PoS) to validate transactions and create new blocks. PoS is a more energy-efficient alternative to Proof-of-Work (PoW) used by many other blockchains. In PoS, validators are chosen based on the amount of cryptocurrency they hold and are incentivized to act honestly to maintain the network's security.

  • Developer Experience:

LayerZero provides a user-friendly development environment for building decentralized applications (dApps) on its network. It supports multiple programming languages, including Solidity, which is used for developing Ethereum smart contracts. Additionally, LayerZero offers a range of tools and resources for developers, such as developer documentation, code samples, and a software development kit (SDK).

  • Speed

LayerZero's network is designed for high-speed transactions, with a target block time of 2 seconds and a maximum throughput of 100,000 transactions per second (TPS). Its sharding mechanism enables parallel processing of transactions, further improving its speed and scalability. With these features, LayerZero aims to provide a faster and more efficient alternative to existing blockchain networks.

Axelar Network: A Closer Look

Axelar Network is a blockchain-based protocol that offers secure cross-chain communication for Web3, enabling developers to build a seamless cross-chain experience. The Axelar network runs on a Byzantine Consensus mechanism that enables agreement on a blockchain, even if some of its nodes behave maliciously. Validators help facilitate cross-chain requests, and the network includes a protocol suite and APIs for developers.

  • Multichain Communication:

Axelar's Cross-Chain Gateway Protocol (CGP) connects multiple autonomous blockchain ecosystems and handles the routing across them. The Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol (CTP) connects DApps on any chain to perform cross-chain requests. With Axelar, blockchains don't need to “speak any custom language” or make custom changes on their blockchain. Chains can be plugged into other networks easily, enabling users to access all applications across the crypto ecosystem from their wallet.

  • Network Architecture:

Axelar combines a PoS blockchain design, a quadratic voting mechanism, and a robust validator set, ensuring that transactions are valid. The concentration of voting power is a constant concern among community members in PoS networks; usually, the few validators on top get the most delegations, and consequently, their voting power increases. Axelar wants to tackle this with quadratic voting, a novel mechanism to ensure that the voting power is spread as evenly as possible. The network's native token is the AXL Token, which supports incentive and fee payments to validators and stakers and grants stakers governance rights over the network.

  • Consensus Mechanism:

Axelar Network runs on a Byzantine Consensus mechanism, which enables agreement on a blockchain, even if some of its nodes behave maliciously. The consensus mechanism ensures that transactions are valid and that the network is secure.

  • Developer Experience:

Axelar heavily relies on APIs, a technology used by software to access data or other applications. The protocol suite and APIs make it easy for developers to integrate different networks and reduce user friction. By reducing the barriers to a minimum, developers can build seamless apps, and users can take advantage of them. Axelar SDK estimates fee payments on the Axelar network, achieving a seamless user experience and hopefully reducing the barriers to broader adoption.

  • Speed:

Axelar's speed depends on the block time of the chains being connected. The network aims to minimize delays and reduce congestion by enabling quick, secure cross-chain communication. The protocol is designed to be fast and efficient, enabling users to interact with any asset, application, or chain in one click.

t3rn Unveiled

t3rn is a decentralized cross-chain liquidity network that allows users to seamlessly trade assets across different blockchain networks. It uses an innovative multichain communication protocol that enables trustless and secure asset transfers between different blockchains.

  • Multichain Communication: t3rn's multichain communication protocol is based on a unique combination of off-chain communication and on-chain settlement. This allows for faster and more efficient cross-chain transactions, as well as improved scalability and reduced transaction costs.

t3rn enables seamless and trustless interoperability between different blockchain networks by providing a platform for executing smart contracts across multiple chains. It uses a unique approach called "circuit" transactions, which allows developers to write code that can be executed on different chains simultaneously, ensuring data and value exchange with minimal friction.

  • Network Architecture: t3rn's architecture consists of three main components: the Gateway, which facilitates cross-chain communication; the Storage, which is responsible for holding the state of ongoing and completed smart contract executions; and the Executor, which runs the smart contracts on the desired blockchains. This modular design allows for efficient and secure execution of cross-chain smart contracts.

t3rn’s network architecture is designed to be highly modular and flexible, allowing developers to easily integrate their own custom modules and functionalities. The network is composed of three main components: Ranger, Executor, and Attestor.

  • Consensus Mechanism: t3rn leverages Polkadot's Substrate framework and Nominated Proof-of-Stake (NPoS) consensus for its underlying infrastructure, which enables compatibility with other Substrate-based blockchains and the Polkadot ecosystem.

t3rn uses a Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm and leverages the shared security from the Polkadot Relay Chain. This ensures that the network is both secure and efficient, while also allowing users to participate in the consensus process and earn rewards for their contributions.

  • Developer Experience: t3rn offers a comprehensive set of developer tools, including an SDK for building and deploying cross-chain smart contracts, as well as extensive documentation and support. This enables developers to easily create and deploy interoperable applications and services across multiple blockchain networks.

t3rn is designed to be highly developer-friendly, with a wide range of tools and resources available for developers to easily build and deploy decentralized applications on the network. This includes a comprehensive SDK, and detailed documentation.

  • Speed:

t3rn aims to provide fast and efficient transactions, along with low transaction fees and near-instant transaction confirmation times. However, it's important to note that achieving both security and speed in a decentralized network can be challenging, and the actual performance may vary. Since we are relying on the finality of the target consensus systems, cross chain transactions speed rely on all the blockhains involved in the composed cross chain transactions.

Conclusion: Unveiling the Multichain Revolution and Subscribing to Multichain Matters

In conclusion, as we've explored throughout this comparative analysis, Cosmos, Polkadot, Avalanche, Chainlink, LayerZero, Axelar, and t3rn each bring their unique strengths to the table in addressing the challenges of interoperability in the crypto industry. Cosmos and Polkadot have gained significant traction with their innovative multichain communication protocols, while Avalanche's unique consensus mechanism enables high throughput and cross-chain compatibility. Chainlink provides a crucial link between blockchain ecosystems with its decentralized oracle network. LayerZero facilitates high-speed communication between blockchains with its LayerZero Interconnect (LZI) protocol. Its network architecture focuses on scalability and performance, supporting a user-friendly development environment. Axelar Network specializes in secure cross-chain communication through its Cross-Chain Gateway Protocol (CGP), Byzantine Consensus mechanism, and developer-friendly APIs. Lastly, t3rn's focus on seamless and trustless interoperability using its innovative "circuit" transactions and modular network architecture contributes to a more cohesive and connected blockchain landscape.

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