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Qtum 2021 Roadmap Explanation

2021-04-23 23:22

Introduction

We issued the 2021 Roadmap on February 11th (2021 Roadmap). This report breaks down the Roadmap with more description and detail about the tasks and goals.

Reviewing the 2020 roadmap, the main projects were Offline Staking, Phantom (protocol privacy), and Neutron (virtual machine architecture).

Offline staking was implemented with a hard fork on August 28, 2020, and has grown to more than half the staking activity on the Qtum blockchain. Users can make a non-custodial delegation for their coins to an online Super Staker.

Qtum Phantom privacy protocol faced significant headwinds last year from global regulatory uncertainty and exchanges delisting privacy tokens. Although Phantom was implemented and received a complete 3rd-party security audit, it cannot move forward at this time.

Qtum Neutron, our virtual machine architecture, is relaunched for 2021 with a new ARM-based virtual machine (saying goodbye to the x86 VM) and a cross-chain perspective. Look for more blogs coming about the Neutron path. The 2021 roadmap is heavy with Neutron development and we are opening up community engagement for Neutron progress.

Late 2020 also saw our pivot to emphasize DeFi tools and capability. Qtum management believes DeFi will be a fundamental success factor for blockchain (after some initial frothiness) and we are working hard to develop the technology and partnerships to realize this opportunity.

The five swim lanes for the Qtum 2021 Roadmap are

Qtum Core - undamental Qtum node technology for faster blocks, hardware wallet interface, and virtual machine updates.

Qtum Infrastructure – tooling for smart contact integration with Ethereum tools (Janus) and cross-chain bridges (Floating Road).

Neutron - updated virtual machine interface architecture, ARM VM.

DeFi & DApp Partnerships – lean in to support Qtum partner development for technology, ecosystem, and cross-chain.

Community Activities – Upgrade Discord with gamification for roles, mission, and rewards, round 2 for the Stake-A-Thon. DeFi and Ecosystem grants. Increase transparency with a focus on community engagement for Neutron development and AMAs.


Roadmap Details

2021 - Q1

Qtum Core

Dev testnet faster blocks

Deploy a global 100+ node test network for testing faster block spacing, various spacings, intervals, and algorithms. Analyze average block spacing and orphan block characteristics.

New staker, more efficient

Refactor UTXO evaluation code for higher efficiency, research multithread staker support.

Ledger support

Provide Ledger hardware wallet support in Qtum Core Qtum-Qt for sending QTUM and QRC20 tokens.

Qtum Infrastructure

Janus beta/Testnet

Beta release and testing for Janus, which will bring Ethereum RPCs (Remote Procedure Calls) to Qtum and all the tools that come with that.

Partnership Floating Road (code name).

Neutron

Living prototype specs

Specification describing the consensus properties of Neutron. The final output of this paper is that it should be possible to implement a new implementation of Neutron that matches our version (in terms of consensus) by using only the spec provided. A living document that will change as Neutron is implemented.

ARMv6-M VM, Rust smart contracts

Write smart contracts using ARM compiler, Rust only for now.

Build Neutron core architecture

Build out the core pieces of Neutron including the ElementAPI blockchain call system, VM manager, and unified token state systems.

Minimum viable Neutron

Build out non-core pieces of Neutron enough that Neutron smart contracts can begin to be written and tested on a "virtual blockchain" that has Neutron integrated.

Call for interest and partners

Outreach to other projects which may be interested in Neutron architecture.

DeFi & DApp Partnerships

These are code names for partnerships in development.

DeFi money, Fortune Teller, Xplatform Tools, Staking Puzzle Piece.

Community Activities

Discord channel upgrades

Changes in the Qtum Discord Server with new ways for the community and developers to interact, including daily giveaways, new developer and community bounties, live chat, and events.

Stake-A-Thon round 2

Resume Stake-A-Thon, offline staking incentive program, with more prizes for smaller stakers/delegators.

DeFi + Ecosystem grants

Since the inception of the DeFi-grant, we have been approached by a range of interesting projects in varying sizes and technical areas. While we wait for the first grant recipients to reach mainnet maturity, there are a lot of interesting solutions and cooperation in the pipeline because of the grant program.

When running the program, we have realized that the branding towards DeFi was a little narrow. The conclusion we have landed on is that we will transition the current grant program into a new rebranded Qtum Ecosystem Grant. In this way, we can for example include the development of technical tools and functionality that can be leveraged when building applications on the Qtum blockchain.

Other experiences we have gained on the way are that predefined sizes of the grants were sometimes a stumbling block. The applications vary from one dev working solo to large teams building complex solutions which of course requires different levels of funding. To increase agility and flexibility to support a broader range of development on the Qtum, we have decided to provide grants on a case-by-case basis.


2021 - Q2

Qtum Core

Research difficulty algorithm

Research into variations of the target adjustment algorithm which regulates block spacing, to improve performance and reduce orphan blocks.

Hard fork faster blocks, Ledger

A hard fork, first on testnet, then on mainnet, to reduce block spacing for faster blocks (https://github.com/qtumproject/qips/issues/26) and implement the hardware wallet interface for manual sending of QTUM with the Ledger hardware wallet.

Research Ledger app sideload

provide Ledger App (which enables the offline staking address delegation transaction) as a sideload through Qtum-Qt. This will be thoroughly tested but not the formal release from Ledger, so users will need to decide if they want to use this interim solution.

Qtum Infrastructure

Janus release

Release Janus for production.

EVM upgrades

Upgrade the Ethereum Virtual Machine for relevant features of the EIPs for the Berlin upgrade.

Research tokenized mining

Research whether tokens could provide mining pool interest for example with partner 6Block mining service.

Neutron

Testbench alpha release

Neutron will include a "testbench" program which is basically a specialized integration of Neutron into a virtual blockchain. This can serve as a reference integration of Neutron and can be used for many things:

  • Doing full network-scale smart contract automated testing without involving a more complex testnet or regtest style network.
  • Emulating potential fork and upgrade behaviors before they are implemented on a blockchain using Neutron for testing of smart contracts.
  • Blockchain (and L2) platforms integrating Neutron can emulate platform-specific features within the testbench to allow early ecosystem use of these features before they are actually implemented on the platform itself.
  • As an internal Neutron tool for testing Neutron Core changes, upgrades, etc., and allowing for smart contract tooling developers to begin working with Neutron in a very early stage, before it is implemented in a blockchain.

Light paper

An informal paper describing the high-level architecture and features of Neutron without delving into implementation details.

“Jumpstart” grant program

With the testbench release, Neutron smart contract tooling can begin being made. We will push grants etc. to begin getting key libraries and tooling that smart contract developers will use in the future for building smart contracts on Neutron.

Community initiatives

Continue community initiatives such as fireside chat, AMAs, etc.

DeFi & DApp Partnerships

These are code names for partnerships in development.

Decentralized Auth, State Channelz (code names).

Community Activities

Stake-A-Thon round 2

Stake-A-Thon round 2 continues.

Discord rewards

Upgrade Discord with gamification for missions (some for blockchain education, some just for fun) with roles and rewards.

DeFi + Ecosystem grants

Continue Qtum Ecosystem Grant program.

Janus testing

Community event with incentives to test Janus.


2021 2nd Half Preview

Depending on conditions and priorities, 2021 2H goals are subject to update, revision, and change.

Qtum Core

Bitcoin v0.21 updates

Upgrade Qtum for Bitcoin v0.21 relevant improvements in peer-to-peer networking, wallet, and RPC (https://bitcoincore.org/en/releases/0.21.0/).

Research hardware wallet staking

Research opportunities with the Hardware Wallet Interface using the Ledger hardware wallet with an “unlock for staking only” approach.

Qtum Infrastructure

Janus web3 + Ethers.js extensions

Extending keys and providers into the UTXO capabilities for easy portability of keys from ETH to QTUM.

3rd party wallets address delegation

Using the detailed specifications for the offline staking address delegation transaction (https://github.com/qtumproject/documents/tree/master/en/OfflineStakingDelegation#offline-staking-address-delegation---undelegation-transaction-details) work with 3rd party wallets for support and integration.

Tokenized mining, Filecoin, others

With partner 6Block (a major player in Filecoin mining). Filecoin is the management/incentive blockchain for decentralized storage using IPFS (Interplanetary File Storage). May include other mining projects supported by 6Block.

Layer 2 zk-rollup

zk-Rollup or Opportunistic zk-Rollup allows building a Layer 2 DEX with instant transactions and no gas fees, where the rollup periodically checkpoints with a ZK hash on the Layer 1 chain. Qtum management has identified this technology as a strategic goal for 2H 2021, and implementation may be through extending our existing partner relationships, incubating the smart contract technology, or other means. If you are an experienced development team eyeing our US$ 5 million DeFi grant program and are committed to fair launch, please reach out.

Neutron

ARMv7-M for smart contracts

Implement this more advanced virtual machine with support for more opcodes and operations.

Testnet/Regtest release

A regtest and/or testnet version of Qtum with Neutron integration.

Create a BIP with suitable detail that a Bitcoin fork could follow the info provided and create their own integration of "minimum viable Neutron". Potentially also work on creating a pull request to a non-Qtum bitcoin fork which could handle this.

Research Layer 2 integrations

Research Layer 2 integrations for Neutron, which involve fast, low-gas transactions.

Research soft fork implementation

Research soft fork implementations where upgraded nodes can signal their upgrade to support Neutron functionality, allowing triggering of these new features when a supermajority of nodes signal support.

DeFi & DApp Partnerships

More partnerships.

Community Activities

Discord rewards

Continue daily rewards for missions, games, content creation, and participation.

Neutron community initiatives

Opening up the Neutron development process which may include public meeting notes, community calls, and inviting interested outside parties into these discussions.

DeFi + Ecosystem grants

Continue Qtum Ecosystem Grant program.

AMAs

Continue AMAs on Discord and Telegram for new technologies and partners.


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