RSK Labs Release Merge-Mining Ecosystem

On March 21, 2016, RSK Labs (Bitcoin’s smart contract platform), Bitmain Technology (the world’s largest bitcoin hardware mining producer), Coinsilium (a leading blockchain investment firm based in London) and Digital Currency Group (the prolific investor from New York), raised $1 million to further develop the first smart contracts platform secured by Bitcoin and fully compatible with Ethereum. As a result, on November 4, 2016 at the Latin America Bitcoin & Blockchain Conference (LABITconf) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, RSK labs disclosed details on its Turmeric ecosystem.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a smart contract testnet that’s built on top of RSK, the first open-source smart contract platform with a 2-way peg system that enables merge-mining, the ability to mine both Bitcoin and Ethereum on the same ecosystem. According to Sergio Lerner, RSK’s Chief Scientist, since Turmeric’s release, 30 percent of miners are already putting Rootstock’s merge-mining to the test. Additionally, 50 percent of miners have displayed interest in the current project and are planning on inquiring further into the ecosystem.  RSK even offers effortless transfers of Ethereum projects to the RSK ecosystem. According to a recent press release:

“The RSK virtual machine is compatible with the Solidity compiler, meaning that any Ethereum developer can smoothly port his/her applications to RSK.”

This is encouraged by Turmeric’s strikingly similar architecture to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Tumeric’s core features include:

Lerner indicated that several global companies and Internet providers are already testing their solutions on the Turmeric ecosystem, these include Jaxx, Wings, Torguen, Oraclize, Koinbanx, and Blockchain Intelligent Group. In a recent interview, Lerner elaborated on the types of projects currently in development.

“Some of the projects already built in RSK are key infrastructure components; explorers, wallets, vaults, bridges. External companies and integrators are also preparing RSK-based solutions. At RSK we try to encourage projects with high impact on the society, and also projects that are fundamental building blocks for more ambitious ideas."

RSK Labs Mainnet Network, Ginger, is expected to go live in May of 2017.

What This Means for Ethereum?

There is no doubt that Turmeric’s arrival could intensify the rivalry between Ethereum and Bitcoin.  It is expected that more investment funds will roll into Bitcoin as it becomes more attractive due to its new and improving capabilities like DAOs, ICOs and DApps. However, this doesn’t solely rule out Ethereum either. Turmeric’s rise could instigate further development into innovation on the Ethereum platform. The possibility of a merge-mining capability within the EVM seems to be a viable option, but there is no current document to support such claims. So, as a means to compete, developers will probably commit to lowering the smart contract execution costs to give developers an incentive to flock to the EVM. Nevertheless, Lerner believes that RSK’s Mainnet, Ginger, offers a happy medium for developers on both ends of the spectrum. “While competition between Bitcoin and Ethereum has certainly heated up in the past year, it is important to note that RSK seems to be focused on offering the best features possible for Dapps to be developed on, regardless of whether they work interoperable with Ethereum or other smart contract technology."