Horizen vs Cosmos – What Are the Key Differences

Horizen is an interoperable blockchain ecosystem with massive scalability and optional privacy features. Horizen features with Zendoo, a sidechain system that enables the deployment of thousands of independent sidechains and can communicate with the mainchain and each other. Developers can scale their crypto-ecosystems by launching multiple interoperable sidechains. 

Cosmos aims to be a scalable blockchain network with interoperability between different chains and ecosystems. Cosmos is an open network that aims to be an “Internet of Blockchains” without a central governing body that’s in control. Cosmos relies on a federation of independently run validators to verify transactions and blocks on the network.

Decentralization

Decentralization is more than just a buzzword. It’s a key feature that differentiates Horizen from other blockchain networks.

Decentralization is the process of distributing power away from centralized entities and into the hands of individuals or groups who are not directly controlled by any single entity. In other words, decentralization implies that no one group has control over the network.

As of writing, Horizen boasts nearly 50,000 nodes. This is in sharp contrast to Cosmos, which relies on a federation of just 150 validators to verify transactions and blocks on its network. This is especially problematic considering recent reports highlighting that perceived centralization could kill PoS networks.

Since the beginning, Horizen has been building a fully decentralized platform where infrastructure is fully decentralized.

In other words, Horizen is decentralized on the technical level and moving towards being fully decentralized on the governance level with initiatives like Zen Improvement Proposals and the Horizen Community Council. Horizen uses the ZenIP process to standardize the process of suggesting major changes to the Horizen code base and ecosystem. 

Community members can propose new ideas in the form of a ZenIP. Horizen is also planning a DAO as a sidechain application to enable decentralized community-based governance.

Throughput

High throughput is vital to building mainstream blockchain-based applications.

After all, when you browse Facebook, Twitter, or any other Web 2.0 site, you don’t wait for the site to load. You click on a link, read the content, and move on. Just a couple of seconds of delay and you’d click the back button.

With blockchain, we need to do the same. We can’t afford to wait for blocks to be mined and transactions confirmed on the mainchain before we start using a network. We need instant results, and that means throughput.

If you want to build mainstream blockchain applications, your users will expect the same seamless experience. Horizen has built an ecosystem where developers can quickly deploy scalable sidechain solutions with Zendoo. Developers on Horizen can operate as many as 10,000 independent blockchains simultaneously while handling up to 10 million transactions per second across all sidechains (an average TPS of 1,000 per chain). 

Cosmos aims to achieve high throughput as well, but given its limited validator count of just 150 nodes (compared to Horizen’s 50,000), it remains unclear if Cosmos’ relative centralization could pose security risks that end up pushing users away.

Further, as usage grows to actually make use of high throughput, the stakes of centralization increase. Centralization refers to the concentration of power in a small number of entities. In the case of blockchains, it means that a small number of entities control the network and decide what happens. In other words, centralization runs contrary to the ethos of decentralization.

Scalability

Horizen’s tremendous scalability is enabled by its sidechain network, Zendoo. Sidechains can be completely decoupled from the mainchain, with the ability to achieve around 1,000 TPS per sidechain. 

In contrast, Cosmos’ TPS caps at around 4,000 with 64 validators. As blockchain engineer Jack Chan writes, “with 100 to 125 validators for Cosmos Hub powered by ATOM tokens, it is at best capped around 4,000 TPS.”

Sure, 4,000 TPS is no laughing number, but in the case of Cosmos, it comes at the cost of having relatively high centralization. As Jack Chan explores, this centralization, however, is still not enough to compete with traditional web-based solutions, as Cosmos is “50-times more expensive than running transactions on AWS S3.”

For Cosmos to be able to compete with centralized web solutions, it will have to reduce the cost of validating transactions. However, to compete on the decentralization playing field, Cosmos would have to dramatically increase the number of validators on its network, and with its current architecture, that would increase the cost and time for validating transactions. 

As a result, Cosmos is facing the classic dilemma of centralized networks: scale or decentralization? Horizen achieves both with its novel sidechain solution.

Privacy

Privacy is another key feature that differentiates Horizen from other blockchains out there today. In fact, Horizen’s optional privacy features have been a key differentiator for the network since its inception.

Privacy refers to the ability of a blockchain to protect user data from being exposed to outside entities. In other words, privacy ensures that your personal information remains private and does not become public knowledge.

Blockchains are inherently transparent by design. They are distributed ledger systems that record transactions in an open and verifiable format, making them perfect for recording any information that benefits from a transparent design, like public voting.

However, blockchains can also be used to store data privately if desired by implementing privacy features such as zero-knowledge proofs. Zero-knowledge proofs allow two parties to exchange information without revealing any details about the communication process or the exchanged data. This is possible because zero-knowledge proofs allow one party to prove to another that they know something, without revealing what they know. 

Horizen’s unique approach uses the mainchain as a veritable “truth engine,” without the need for sidechains to reveal sensitive data to it. As a result, Horizen allows for private transactions on the mainchain as well as private data on sidechains.

Cosmos does not implement these privacy features on its mainchain. This means that transactions are publicly viewable on the Cosmos blockchain, without the privacy optionality offered by Horizen.

Horizen vs Cosmos: Conclusion

Both Horizen and Cosmos aim to build scalable, interoperable blockchain networks with instant gratification for users. 

However, there are key differences between the two projects that could determine which one comes out on top. Cosmos is currently ahead when it comes to adoption, but Horizen boasts a more decentralized, scalable ecosystem overall, while offering optional privacy features.

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