How Ankr’s open-source scaling improvements bring unparalleled performance to BNB Chain
Ankr has been making headlines in recent weeks, as the Web3 infrastructure provider continues to help developers, decentralized applications (dApps), and stakers interact easily with multiple blockchains. Just this week, we wrote about Ankr after the blockchain infrastructure startup became an RPC provider to Ethereum L2 scaling solution Optimism.
Ankr is one of those companies you’ve probably used its services without knowing it. Ankr provides underlying infrastructure plumbing that makes using dApps, crypto games, and wallets possible by connecting them to the blockchains they need to communicate with.
In addition, for some time now the transfer of assets across different blockchains was a complicated activity. This is now made easier by the growing Web3 ecosystem. Ankr is an integral part of this movement and it’s created for users looking for a streamlined way of connecting and interacting with multiple blockchains.
The best way to understand Ankr is to think of all the projects and dApps of Web3 as city blocks, Ankr is like the underlying utility service or grid that powers it all. However, connecting projects and users to blockchains aren’t the only thing Ankr does.
In addition, Ankr also helps blockchain companies run their blockchains faster, enabling them to offer users the best Web3 experiences. Ankr is improving the user experience of Web3 from top to bottom to lay the foundation for Web3 adoption on a massive scale. And that’s why Ankr is providing an extensive level of engineering support for the public goods that make Web3 and ecosystems like the BNB Smart Chain possible.
In the fall of 2021, Ankr heard calls for assistance to improve the BNB Smart Chain’s performance across its ecosystem of dApps, games, governance platforms, and other stakeholders. Immediately, Ankr got to work after consulting with the Binance team.
Since then, Ankr has implemented several open-source performance improvements that completely overhauled the BSC with a 10x increase in RPC request throughput, 75% reduction in storage requirements, a sync process that is 100x faster, and an entirely new framework for scaling the blockchain’s operations with application-specific sidechains.
Commenting on how Ankr’s upgrades have scaled the BNB Chain, BNB Chain Ecosystem Coordinator BNB Chain Ecosystem Coordinator said, “Ankr is a key infrastructure provider for the BNB Chain ecosystem — their contributions and expertise were critical in implementing upgrades to the BNB Chain with the Erigon client, rewriting archive node infrastructure, and creating a framework for BNB Application Sidechains. This allows the BNB Chain ecosystem to remain competitive and offer both users and builders the latest benefits.”
In a behind-the-scenes post on Medium that looked into how Ankr’s upgrades to the BNB Chain ecosystem are empowering the next stage of Web3 development, Ankr explained how it first discovered the inefficiencies with the BNB Smart Chain in its own operations as they are the predominant RPC provider to the chain and one of its 21 validators.
Even Ankr’s team, which was highly experienced with BSC ops, had difficulty staying at block height as it experienced extreme traffic volumes. As the BSC was such a popular choice for dApps and games (because of high throughput and low fees), this led to the chain becoming bogged down as it struggled with server capacities.
After discovering these problems, Ankr took it upon itself to create a multi-pronged approach to increase the capacity of the BNB Chain:
The Erigon Performance Upgrade: Ankr’s engineering team found that by implementing the Erigon client that was originally created for Ethereum, they could drastically reduce storage capacity and sync time requirements. This was a project that took extremely advanced engineering knowledge and resources. Ankr successfully implemented a version of Erigon for the BNB Chain that solved scalability issues and made the new version of Erigon for the BSC open-source and available to all. This solution is now used by the majority of the ecosystem, from Chainstack to Covalent.
BNB Application Sidechains (BAS): Ankr then made a proposal to Binance to help scale the protocol completely. BSC is a fork of Ethereum but has low gas fees and fast block generation periods which lead to much higher transactions per block. This puts a great deal of stress on the chain and its ability to scale. Ankr proposed a multi-chain scaling solution that was mature enough to handle advanced use cases like GameFi, unlike Layer-2 solutions. Ankr modified the consensus layer of the BSC to enable staking for new sidechains’ native tokens while preserving its full EVM capabilities. This means that BNB Application Sidechains would allow projects to launch their own chains effectively as Layer-1s with their own native ERC-20 or BEP-20 tokens and complete customization over the chain.
BAS dApp Launching Assistance: Since Ankr helped create BAS, they are uniquely positioned as an onramp to help projects launch their own blockchain with customized designs on this new scaling framework with a full set of tools such as customized system contracts, custom tokenomics, inflation models, global gas fee revenues, testnet faucets, block explorers, and gaming SDKs. Ankr has already successfully launched the first game on BAS, Meta Apes. Ankr provided our open-source gaming SDK that allowed the Meta Apes game studio to take an already-popular game, Age of Apes, and give it full Web3, blockchain, and crypto capabilities.
BNB Liquid Staking: Ankr further supported the BNB Chain ecosystem with the first BNB Liquid Staking solution that brings DeFi composability on top of staked BNB. This means that BNB holders can have increased options when it comes to choosing how to earn in DeFi with their assets – with the ability to combine strategies like staking, farming, lending, contributing to vaults, and more simultaneously. This solution is open-source, allowing for integrations for all BNB DeFi platforms. This brings in increased TVL and DeFi rewards across the BNB ecosystem.
At the end of Ankr’s scaling improvements, the results were obvious with immediate key benefits:
- Immense scalability for BNB Chain dApps unlocked without affecting BSC
- Extremely positive UX with low or zero gas fees and blazing-fast transactions
- 6 building blocks to give dApp builders the tools needed to build on BAS
Going forward, Ankr said it will continue to support the BNB Chain ecosystem with upgrades to improve security with a beacon chain model of multichain communication. They will also build solutions for more native cross-chain asset transfer capability with lower transfer costs and enhanced security.
Founded in 2017 by Chandler Song and Ryan Fang, Ankr is building the future of decentralized infrastructure and multi-chain solutions, servicing over 50 proof-of-stake chains with an industry-leading global node delivery system and a developer toolkit. Ankr serves over 1T transactions a year across Web3 and is the main infrastructure provider for the BNB Chain, Fantom, and Polygon as of 2022.