Today’s recommendation | In-depth comparison between Polkadot and Ethereum, the kings of the sky


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Background overview

Polkadot, as a blockchain project that has attracted much attention in 2020, has attracted much attention in the past summer. In addition to completing another round of fundraising worth about $43.3 million in just 72 hours (getting about 3982.07 bitcoins) ), including the smooth launch of the Polkadot mainnet and the successful opening of the DOT transfer function. Because of this, the coordination of fundamentals has made Polkadot another hot topic in the blockchain field.

Many times we will claim that Polkadot is another real blockchain “king-of-the-sky” project, and most of the projects that received this title last time have become past events, except for giants like Ethereum and Bitcoin, even if they were once The graceful EOS has also changed from the original “king of heaven” to the object of complaints.

When we talk about Polkadot, most people will compare Ethereum. The reason is simple. After all, Dr. Gavin, one of the founders of Polkadot, was once the co-founder of Ethereum and the author of the Ethereum Yellow Paper. Faced with the Ethereum created by Dr. Gavin, it has now become the world’s second largest blockchain project, and its digital asset ETH has also become the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market value.

This is also the reason why Polkadot is given high hope. There is an old Chinese saying, “Take copper as a mirror, you can dress up; history as a mirror, you can know the rise and fall; people as a mirror, you can know the gains and losses.” An Ethereum myth, then Polkadot should not be underestimated.

Most people probably know that Polkadot is aiming at the status of Ethereum, but they don’t know what is the difference between Polkadot and Ethereum, or whether ETH2.0 will become a strong opponent of Polkadot. To this end, we try to take various dimensions I will disassemble the difference between Polkadot and Ethereum for everyone to learn and understand.

Comparison of several dimensions

1 team comparison

Dr. Gavin, the founder of Polkadot, as a former CTO of Ethereum, is one of the people who know Ethereum technology best, and has made many milestone contributions to Ethereum:

Completed the initial prototype PoC-1 (Proof of Concept-1) of the Ethereum C++ version client;

Wrote the Yellow Book of Ethereum’s technical yellow book, and put forward the concept of Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) in it, laying the foundation for smart contract development;

He also invented Solidity, a development language specifically for smart contracts;

Almost single-handedly developed the earliest C++ version of Ethereum client cpp-ethereum

In 2015, Gavin left Ethereum and founded Parity Technologies, and was the first to write an Ethereum client in Rust. This is also the fastest and lightest client of Ethereum. Parity Technologies is also the core research and development of Polkadot. Technical team.

Then in 2016, Gavin founded the Web3 Foundation and launched the Polkadot project. Polkadot is the flagship project of the Web3 Foundation, and the Web3 Foundation is the main organization behind Polkadot. The Web3 Foundation is working with the best entities in its class to build Polkadot, and has commissioned 5 outstanding blockchain development teams including Parity Technologies, ChainSafe, Soramitsu, Polkadot JS, and more than one hundred developers to jointly promote the development of Polkadot.

Therefore, from the perspective of team composition, Polkadot and Ethereum have far-reaching connections, especially from the relationship between the founders, it seems quite “legendary”.

As the core figure of Ethereum, the 27-year-old Vitalik Buterin (known as “V God”) has also been leading the subsequent development of Ethereum, including the important Ethereum 2.0 upgrade. Although Gavin did not contribute code to the Ethereum community later, his early participation has made great efforts for the realization of Ethereum. This is why we often see the two in some important industry conferences, because They are all early industry builders of the blockchain, and of course they may also be the future leaders of the industry.


This section focuses on the Polkadot team to give everyone a clearer understanding of some of the origins of Polkadot and Ethereum, and the similarities and differences between Ethereum and Polkadot at many design levels are also affected by this origin.

2 technical comparison

As Gavin recalled his experience in the Ethereum team: “Ethereum is an experiment for me, a product prototype to verify whether the technology is feasible. Ethereum is also my school, I graduated from this school, I want to try to do More things.”

At the technical level, Polkadot does have many references to Ethereum. But there are still big differences between the two in terms of technology. Let’s compare them one by one below:

2.1 Fragmentation technology


The first is the sharding technology, which is the key technology for improving the performance of Ethereum. How to understand sharding? First of all, we need to understand what are the performance problems of Ethereum today.

Simply understand, if you compare Ethereum to a highway, and the various vehicles on the highway are transactions of various assets on the Ethereum. In the case of Ethereum, the toll gate of this highway has only one window. And the processing speed is relatively slow, and the number of vehicles (transactions) allowed to pass every minute is relatively small, about dozens of vehicles per second. Once there are a little more vehicles, the toll station will start to jam. Whether it is the hot crypto cat in 2017 or the hot DeFi this year, it has caused congestion in Ethereum. Not only has the transfer time increased, but the transfer fee has also become much higher.

Then, the fragmentation technology is like this toll station has added dozens of hundreds of windows at the same time to process different vehicles (transactions) separately, which greatly improves the overall processing speed.

The actual situation is that every node running the Ethereum network must process every transaction transmitted through the network. This makes the blockchain highly secure because each block has a lot of verification, but at the same time it also means that the speed of Ethereum will be affected by the number of nodes, the more nodes the slower the speed.

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If Ethereum currently has a total of 1,000 nodes, then 10,000 transactions need to be processed by each node of these 1,000 nodes. After one node is processed, it is handed over to another node for processing. This is a series of working methods. For a single node, not only does it handle a lot of transactions, but it also has to queue for a long time. The longest queue is 1,000, which is very inefficient.

Then sharding, as the name implies, divides the nodes of the entire network into different areas called shards. If one thousand nodes are divided into fifty shards, these ten thousand transactions are sent to different shards for processing. For a single node, the number of processing has changed from 10,000 to hundreds, which is a parallel processing method. For a single node, the number of transactions processed is split, which is reduced many times, and the number of queues is also reduced, which greatly improves the throughput of transaction processing of the entire network.

Sharding is an excellent expansion solution that can achieve a substantial increase in network performance and capacity without increasing node hardware requirements and reducing the degree of decentralization.


The sharding technology also inspired Dr. Gavin, as he mentioned Polkadot’s design ideas in an interview:

Polkadot’s design logic does not directly associate with interoperability (cross-chain). We are waiting for the launch of Ethereum’s sharding technology. But sharding has not been implemented, and it has not yet been launched. Therefore, I want to build a more extensible “Ethereum” by myself, and push the concept of sharding to a more extreme level in the design process, so I don’t want to shard at all, just design an independent chain. With this design, different chains can transmit information to each other, and the final result is to achieve communication through a shared consensus level.

Therefore, the situation of Ethereum sharding is that each shard is composed of many nodes, and the information exchange between the shards is required, and each shard is made to the extreme and becomes a chain. The intercommunication between different chains is Polkadot Cross-chain. Therefore, Polkadot is in a sense an evolutionary version of Ethereum sharding.


Since the shards of Ethereum are the same, and the shards of Polkadot can be different, Ethereum is a homogeneous shard, and Polkadot is a heterogeneous shard. This is one of the biggest differences between the two sharding technologies.

2.2 System upgrade:

The upgrade of Ethereum 2.0 will follow the regular hard fork process, requiring validators to upgrade their nodes to implement protocol changes.

Polkadot uses the Wasm meta-protocol, the first to implement chain upgrades and successful proposals without a hard fork.

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The existing blockchain upgrades all require a hard fork. A hard fork means that the newly upgraded version of the node is not compatible with the unupgraded old version, and it will be divided into two chains, the old and the new. If the hard fork does not go smoothly, it will have many impacts, such as community splits, project splits, sudden drop in computing power, transaction rollbacks, double spending issues, replay attacks, and so on. Polkadot pioneered the upgrade without a hard fork, and no need to worry about the above problems.

3 Governance comparison


Before the upgrade, Ethereum mainly relied on off-chain governance, such as Github discussions, All Core Devs call, and Ethereum Magicians to make decisions about the protocol.


Polkadot uses a more complex governance mechanism that can evolve gracefully over time under the final requirements of all stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to ensure that most stakeholders can always control the network, that is, “The development of the Polkadot network is governed by DOT holders decide”.

In terms of the specific process, Polkadot will form a management group with active DOT holders and the board of directors to make decisions about network upgrades. Regardless of whether the proposal is put forward by the public (DOT holders) or the board of directors, it will eventually go through a referendum, allowing all DOT holders (weights are determined according to the Stake ratio) to make a decision, which truly implements token holders The right to control the community.

4 Economic model comparison


Ethereum at the current stage is still in the PoW stage, so every operation built on Ethereum requires payment of ETH, including every step of the operation in transfers and smart contracts. It also prevents attacks from malicious programs, and the Gas fee will be paid directly To the miners, as the income of their operating nodes (mainly from the additional issuance of ETH, the inflation rate exceeds 5%).

After upgrading to Ethereum 2.0, the way for participants to obtain additional ETH is changed from mining to participating in staking. It is expected that the inflation rate can theoretically be reduced to 0.24% as low as possible. The advantage of PoS is that it allows us to try to issue as little ETH as possible, while making it easier to protect the security of the network, which in turn makes ETH a better store of value.


In addition to the original issuance of Polkadot (the first 10 million pieces were split), Polkadot also uses a set of NPoS consensus mechanism to increase the issuance of inflation to reward many participants in the Polkadot network. For the purpose of DOT, Polkadot hopes that 50% of DOT will be mortgaged to the NPoS consensus system, 30% of DOT will be used for parachain slot auctions, and 20% of DOT will be circulated in the trading market. As for the inflation rate, Polkadot hopes to be 10% per year (actually lower than, dynamically adjusted). In the 50% mortgage rate, the average annualized return of mortgage DOT is 20%.

In addition to the issuance and additional issuance of inflation, Polkadot has also added recycling and destruction mechanisms. Transaction fees, node penalties and a part of the additional issuance of DOT will be returned to a pool of funds-the Ministry of Finance (Treasury, we will It is described in detail in the Ecosystem Support Comparison), the distribution and destruction of DOT.


The economic model of Ethereum is mainly to maintain the stability of the network, while the economic model of Polkadot takes ecological construction and governance into consideration, making Polkadot operate very much like a decentralized federation, and its economic model is no longer simple Consider distributing and punishing nodes for evil, but operate like a national machine, collecting taxes, issuing additional currency, and organically using digital assets for the ecological construction of Polkadot.

5 Consensus mechanism comparison


Ethereum, which has been founded so far, mainly uses the PoW mechanism (the same as Bitcoin), but the goal of ETH2.0 is to make Ethereum a consensus mechanism for PoS, in order to reduce the time it takes to generate new blocks for proof of work. As well as the problem of resource waste caused by the need for a large amount of computing power, it is estimated that only 32 ETH will be required to become a validator in the future.

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In phase 0 (just the beacon chain, no sharding), we can handle thousands of validators on one machine. However, the number of validators that can be run after Phase 1 depends on the performance of the computer. Mainstream laptops should be able to easily handle one validator, and can handle 2-10 validators at most. In phase 0, this means that every 6 minutes, the beacon chain will select available verifiers, and a committee will be formed in the next 6 minutes. In phase 1, the beacon chain will appoint a validator committee for 1024 shards (each shard provides 256 validators).


Polkadot uses a unique NPoS mechanism (Proof of Nomination Stake), which is more fair than the general PoS mechanism and reduces the appearance of oligopoly. Polkadot’s NPoS selects validators from a smaller set, so that smaller holders can nominate validators to run the infrastructure, while still obtaining the benefits of the system without running their own nodes, compared to ETH2.0 The cost is lower and the efficiency is higher.


Ethereum 2.0 will switch from PoW mechanism to PoS mechanism, which can greatly improve efficiency and save resources. However, the PoS mechanism of Ethereum 2.0 has not made too many innovations, so it will also encounter the problems encountered by general PoS mechanisms. For example, the rich nodes will become richer, the strong will become stronger and new giants will be formed, and the project will be less decentralized.

Polkadot considered the need to avoid these common PoS mechanism problems at the consensus mechanism level, so it innovatively introduced a new NPoS mechanism. The final reward in this mechanism is not based on the number of staking, but based on the actual value of each selected node. The calculation of the workload of the block is safer and more decentralized than the PoS mechanism where there is no pledge delegation and only a few people with a large number of tokens can be validators.

6 Ecosystem support comparison


Ethereum Foundation

The Stiftung Ethereum (also known as Ethereum Foundation) is a non-profit organization registered in Switzerland in June 2014. Ethereum raised funds for the project in the early stage, and the role of the foundation is to manage the fundraising in the sale of Ethereum Fund to better serve Ethereum and the decentralized technology ecosystem. Its main but not the only focus is to promote the development of the Ethereum protocol and related technologies, and to support the application of the Ethereum technology and protocol. The role of the foundation is to allocate resources for key projects, become a valuable voice in the Ethereum ecosystem, and advocate Ethereum to the outside world.

The Ethereum Foundation is a non-profit organization with no income, only expenditure. When funds are exhausted, the Ethereum Foundation will shut down.

Ecosystem Support Plan

The Ecosystem Support Program (ESP) is a branch of the Ethereum Foundation dedicated to supporting projects and entities in the larger Ethereum community to promote the success and development of the ecosystem. It evolved from the original Ethereum grant program, but the meaning of ESP is much more than grants. Its process is more flexible and personalized, and it is committed to providing economic or non-economic support for various Ethereum projects, thereby promoting the development of Ethereum.


Web3 Foundation

Polkadot is the flagship project of the Web3 Foundation. The Web3 Foundation was established by Dr. Gavin in Zug, Switzerland, focusing on the development, deployment and maintenance of Web3, and is committed to nurturing cutting-edge applications for decentralized network software protocols. The Web3 Foundation has a dedicated department Adoptions Team, which is mainly responsible for communication and docking, community and growth (such as Polkadot Ambassador Program, Polkadot Pathways project), business cooperation (finding partners, establishing partnerships, etc.). They work closely with the technical education team (launching Web3 MOOC courses and webinars, etc.), and are also responsible for fund review and distribution. In the past three years from 2018, the foundation has distributed funds to more than 100 projects, 83 teams, and 24 new chains.

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Ministry of Finance

The Treasury is not a department of the Polkadot team. It is an important mechanism in the Polkadot economic model. It is a pool of funds that raises transaction fees, penalty mechanisms, and non-optimal staking proceeds. Non-optimal staking gains: Polkadot and Kusama networks are actually issuing additional 10% annual inflation. Only when the staking ratio is 50%, validators can get the full 10% inflation reward, any lower or higher The remaining part of inflation at the 50% staking ratio will be sent to the Ministry of Finance.

The funds in the Ministry of Finance can be used by proposing expenditure proposals. This can be initiated by anyone holding DOT. If the board of directors (the board of directors is responsible for the custody and management of these funds) approves, the initiator can have a short waiting period Funds will be obtained from within to develop projects that promote network development. The entire operating mechanism of the Ministry of Finance is not only a part of the economic model, but also a part of on-chain governance. The design of the Ministry of Finance is also one of the highlights of Polkadot. The Ministry of Finance can continuously raise funds through the continuous operation of the project. Polkadot is also the first to consider the sustainable source of funds required for ecological construction and the governance of ecological construction. Blockchain project of economic model.

Bonus extension

Bounty Extension, the new Bounty Extension on Polkadot and Kusama networks allows managers to automatically allocate funds to projects that bring value. Since everything happens on the chain, this is an effective way to manage treasury funds, promotes the development of the Polkadot ecosystem, and gives those who manage its development more autonomy. The new extension procedure is a budget mechanism designed to help the council expand the scale of their approval tasks.


Ethereum and Polkadot are not stingy in ecological construction. They have established corresponding departments to use the funds raised to fund development teams or individuals for ecological construction. Dr. Gavin, who participated in Ethereum from the very beginning, obviously gave him a lot of inspiration in the successful establishment of the ecology of Ethereum. His consideration in promoting the ecological construction of Polkadot is more comprehensive. The most direct manifestation lies in the integration of on-chain governance and economics. The model is added to the ecological construction.

Ethereum only relies on the initial fundraising and distributes funds in a centralized way (although they are working hard to achieve decentralization). If Ethereum’s funds are used up, there will be no funds to continue to support ecological construction. Polkadot considers these two issues. By setting up the Ministry of Finance in the economic model, it continuously obtains funds for ecological construction, and uses on-chain governance to manage and approve the use of funds to achieve decentralization.化.

7 development comparison


Ethereum wrote in its white paper that it is a brand new open blockchain platform that allows anyone to build and use decentralized applications running through blockchain technology on the platform. Its goal is to become a new generation (relative to Bitcoin at the time) blockchain application platform. This year, there have been more than 2500 decentralized applications or projects on Ethereum, covering finance, games, storage, computing, privacy, prediction, governance and many other directions.

From the perspective of development, Ethereum defines itself as a model project of smart contracts (it is true), and is also the pioneer of smart contracts in the blockchain field. The future Ethereum (ETH2.0) will be due to performance The improvement and the change of consensus (transition from POW to POS) further strengthen its position in the public chain field. Especially for applications in the financial field, because most DeFi projects are derived from Ethereum, which is of great significance to ecological development, but it does not rule out that DeFi will be extended to more public chains in the future.


Polkadot’s goal is to become an infrastructure platform for the next generation of blockchains and to realize the “interconnection of all chains”. Therefore, from a development perspective, Polkadot is more inclined to become a lower-level blockchain infrastructure than just a public chain. Of course, in order to become the next-generation platform of the blockchain and even the Internet, in addition to satisfying the basic blockchain functions, it also needs to have more creative functions. This is what distinguishes Polkadot from projects that have become kings like Ethereum. basis.

This year, Polkadot has launched the mainnet. In less than three months, more than two hundred projects and teams have joined the Polkadot ecosystem. The development speed can only be described by leaps and bounds, which is already faster than the ecological development of many well-known public chain projects. Better.

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From the goals and design of the two, it can be seen that Ethereum focuses on being an application platform. It is a “coin ecology” and supports one-click currency issuance. Polkadot is positioned as a chain link and also supports one-click chain issuance. Be a “chain ecology”. Polkadot can not only link existing chains, but also integrate the ecology of these chains (such as Ethereum) into its own network. At the same time, the new chains generated on Polkadot will give birth to many new applications. Therefore, from the perspective of vision, Polkadot’s plan is much more ambitious than Ethereum. This is also the biggest difference between the two.

Of course, from the perspective of the development stage, there is another difference between Polkadot and Ethereum in that Ethereum is a project that has matured and operated for more than 5 years, while Polkadot’s autonomous network has been in stable operation for less than a year, and the development is still relatively early, but It also means that it has huge development potential, and the rapid development of Polkadot ecology also proves this.


Earlier we talked a lot about the differences between Polkadot and Ethereum, but in fact, there are still some similarities between the two. Let’s briefly sort out the following.

1. We believe that the biggest similarity between Polkadot and Ethereum is actually to solve the remaining problems of Ethereum 1.0, such as information transmission efficiency, transfer speed and capacity issues, but the two eventually have different development directions.

2. Both Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0 solve the problems of Ethereum 1.0, so the proposed solutions are all fragmented blockchain protocols, and the overall application scenarios are also very similar.

3. The same consensus model, Ethereum 2.0 and Polkadot both use a hybrid consensus model, in which block generation and finality have their own agreements. Final agreements are based on GHOST, and a batch of blocks can be finalized in a round. For block generation, both protocols use a slot-based protocol, which randomly assigns validators to slots and provides fork selection rules for unfinalized blocks.


In general, Polkadot has many advantages over Ethereum. Although it is an extension of sharding technology, Polkadot still shows different development directions, such as a more optimized upgrade method (the upgrade does not require a hard split Fork), a fairer governance method (on-chain governance), a more decentralized consensus mechanism (NPOS), and a more unique architecture (parachain). These are all different from Ethereum, but they do not mean that Ethereum The square is not good, but Polkadot seems to walk better on the shoulders of giants.

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Polkadot, as a new project of Dr. Gavin who knows Ethereum best, can indeed see some of the origins of Ethereum in its design, governance, ecological construction, etc., or learn from some solutions of Ethereum and make a better extension , Or in order to avoid some problems of Ethereum made further improvements.

Perhaps this kind of origin can be understood from a sentence that Dr. Gavin once said. He said: “Deep into code, you can think about the blockchain better.” This means that in the Ethereum era, Vitalik Buterin was mainly doing The design of the Ethereum, and Dr. Gavin writes more code. From the code level, he can understand the blockchain more deeply, because the code will be closer to the realization of this huge project, and he knows the problems best. , So I think deeper.

When he is thinking, there will be a situation that he envisions is different from what Ethereum planned. In Ethereum, he can only complete the plan of Ethereum but cannot realize what he wants. That’s why Dr. Gavin left Ethereum to achieve Polkadot. Since Polkadot is his own blueprint, he is both a designer and an implementer, so we can see that it is also doing sharding, and the development speed of Polkadot is much faster than Ethereum 2.0.

When we review the development of the blockchain in the past few years, we will always use 1.0, 2.0 or even 3.0 to describe the past development, but no matter it is any project, it is an important part of the development of the blockchain. , Just because of the favorable time and place, some became well-known projects, and some disappeared from the field of vision.

We don’t want to deliberately evaluate the pros and cons of projects like Polkadot and Ethereum, because they were originally industry elite-level projects, and they are also models of blockchain development and even future trends. But to understand the connection and difference between the two is also knowledge that we should understand. This is probably the function of this article. If you finish reading this article, you can no longer send out the question “What is the difference between Polkadot and Ethereum?”, It is our great honor.

Finally, regardless of the future development of Polkadot and whether Ethereum 2.0 can arrive as scheduled, we believe that they are destined to be included in the history of the blockchain, and this is the historical choice.

Reference materials:

1. Who has more DOT? The governance of Polkadot is not so simple and rude|Polkadot Wiki

2. Ethereum governance outline

3. Comprehensive comparison between Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0

4. W3FCMO: Polkadot is expected to become the next generation of blockchain technology: