Last week I wrote a project overview on Covalent and this week I want to dive a little deeper into the project and its technology. This article is based on the 3 main technological focal points of the COVA protocol: TEE’s, Centrifuge and the Covalent Virtual Machine (CovaVM). But first a little reminder of the Covalent project and what it entails.
Covalent is creating a new internet that is comprised of Smart Data that knows how to properly process and utilize communication databases. By implementing Smart Policies, the data sets can be properly managed and explicit terms and conditions can be added to specific data.
Now let’s take a look at the technology.
Trusted Execution Environments (TEE’s) provide a military-grade security and privacy solution that are active on the entire computational network.
TEE’s can be implemented into the embedded hardware technologies of AMD, Intel and ARM. Various providers offer different TEE implementations. Covalent will initially be using Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) to provide the TEE for off-chain computing.
By implementing a rewards system a network of TEE nodes will be inaugurated. These network nodes will bring in ‘trusted’ computing power. After embracing this trusted computing power, supervisor programs can be set up, which can then expand and improve the platform. TEE nodes are incentivized for providing computation. Covalent will be working with masternodes. At this point no additional information about masternodes has been made public.
Besides utilizing TEE’s and creating a network of TEE nodes through a rewards system, Covalent is creating 2 proprietary technological features: their programming language called Centrifuge and the COVA Virtual Machine (CovaVM).
Centrifuge is the programming language that will be used to write ‘Smart Policies’. Earlier attempts at policy-enhancement models, like ‘Naccio’, ’PoET/Pslang’ and ‘Polymer’ were discontinued in 2005. While these previous attempts of policy enhancement models were very general, with the development of Centrifuge, Covalent is creating a language specifically for defining data policies.
Covalent Virtual Machine
Covalent is creating a protocol that solves large computational problems and is called Covalent Virtual Machine (CovaVM). To ensure a secure, strong and proven mature platform, Java Virtual Machine (JVM)will be the basis of this CovaVM execution engine. Smart Contracts on the Covalent Virtual Machine are highly scalable because of its off-chain computations. Covalent enables to separate consensus from Smart Contract execution and performs parallel execution of smart contracts making the computational power the sum of all its nodes.
The overview below illustrates how Smart Policies are written in Centrifuge and enforced in CovaVM.
Building a new Web 3.0 solution by creating a platform that not only processes data, but also securely utilized that data is Covalent’s main goal. For the creation of their platform they will implement 3 main technological features into 7 different layers.
According to GitHub Covalent already has a private testnet that is active. For the private testnet they use TEE nodes in a standalone blockchain network that communicates with a smart contract system. Unfortunately the source code is private so we cannot review it at the moment.
To make it a little easier to understand we can compare Covalent to Ethereum in terms of technical features. Ethereum Virtual Machine is compared to Covalent Virtual Machine. Ethereum programming language for smart contracts is Solidity while Covalent smart policies can be written in Centrifuge.