Project Insight: Cronos – Automation Infrastructure For Solana

Cronos empowers the validator and developer community in the Solana ecosystem through task scheduling without diluting decentralization at the same time.

Introducing Cronos

Cronos is a decentralized automated task scheduling protocol on Solana. It provides users with a secure and reliable mechanism to schedule tasks with a validator network. This system incentivizes validators and RPC nodes to execute scheduled transactions that enable developers to build on-chain automation processes without sacrificing decentralization. 

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Current On-Chain Validation Mechanism

Certain applications can be challenging to develop due to the decentralized runtime environments of contemporary blockchains. Typically, data flows that are reasonably simple to implement in traditional data centers are far more difficult to reproduce on-chain. Let us take the example of background tasks. There is no mechanism to track nodes and delegate scheduled tasks, malicious nodes could attempt to execute tasks ahead of schedule, and there is no fail-safe mechanism for schedulers. Due to these factors, none of the blockchains support scheduling automated transactions as part of their core validator protocol. 

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In order to deal with the aforementioned constraints, developers are building crank functions into the applications. A crank function is a regular program instruction through which developers use off-chain bots––processes running in centralized data centers––to automatically execute program instructions according to the schedule. These bots can often spam the network and consume significant RPC bandwidth. While they provide a solution, centralized nodes are unreliable and pose systemic risks to decentralized applications. 

Cronos’ Value Proposition

Cronos aims to bring decentralized automation to every decentralized application. At present, applications must utilize user-invoked transactions at the time of execution or run a trusted server that signs transactions on behalf of the users in a centralized manner. Cronos utilizes the Solana validator network to execute transactions at a specific time. The core value propositions are as follows:

Decentralized Automation

End-to-End Blockchain execution 

Cost-effective

Built on the Solana network 

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Validators and RPC Nodes

Validators are the foundation of Solana’s network. The role of validators is to process transactions and engage in consensus. Solana Foundation has committed to strategically delegating stake from its treasury in an effort to promote decentralization of the network. 

Validators who choose to apply for the Solana Foundation’s Delegation Program may be eligible to receive a stake delegation from the Solana Foundation. A validator node must meet certain performance and decentralization criteria in order to receive the stake delegation from the Solana Foundation. Delegation sizes are dynamically adjusted based on an eligible validator’s performance.

An RPC (Remote Procedure Call) is a set of protocols and interfaces that the client interacts with the blockchain system. The user can query the blockchain-related information (such as block number, blocks, node connection, etc.) and send the transaction request through the RPC interface. RPCs are quite similar to function calls in that they occur between two different systems. Still, they are the simplest and straightforward APIs via which developers can interface with servers to execute code remotely. 

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A server is commonly referred to as a node in blockchain terminology. As a result, in the world of crypto and blockchain, a node is required to execute RPCs. These nodes––also known as RPC nodes––allow access to blockchain data and send transactions to multiple networks. 

How it Works

Cronos is a relatively straightforward program where users can schedule instructions to be signed by a daemon account and validated with the Solana validator network. Participating validators can monitor queued tasks and execute them to earn automation fees. 

Daemon Account: It is an account managed by the Cronos network; it is used to sign instructions on behalf of its owner. To sign for on-chain automation, Cronos employs a delegated signatory method. This implies that users do not have to sign scheduled instructions with their wallets directly. Instead, they create daemon accounts that can be automated to sign instructions on their behalf. 

Users can only assign tasks to daemons that they own, and the daemons can only sign for instructions in tasks that they have been allocated. This security paradigm aids in the protection of digital assets held in escrow by Cronos in order to carry out scheduled tasks. Cronos has a fee account for each daemon, where it collects payments for tasks completed by the daemon account. Cronos collects fees in the background and deposits them into a consolidated treasury account for DAO management. 

A Look at Task Scheduling

A task account in Cronos contains the serialized instruction data (which has to be signed and validated) and a schedule specifying when the task is to be executed. Both one-time and recurring tasks can be scheduled to be executed by users. Tasks are only executed once the time Unix timestamp goes beyond the scheduled task execution time. The task scheduling model comprises three parameters:

‘exec_at’: The time at which the task should be executed.

‘stop_at’:  The time beyond which the task cannot be executed.

‘recurr’: Duration to wait between each task execution. 

Once the user schedules the task––off-chain scripts called ‘Bots’––race to execute tasks whenever they are due. The objective of the bot network is to provide decentralized automation while minimizing latency and optimizing service availability. The winning bot––the first to trigger a pending task––is rewarded a fee paid by the Daemon responsible for the task. 

Recent Developments

Cronos came into the limelight after the conclusion of Solana’s recent Riptide hackathon. As previously reported by Web3 Wire, the network’s Twitter handle revealed on April 14 that Cronos was chosen as the grand champion of the Riptide Hackathon. The project won $65,000 in USDC and was also awarded two passes for the Breakpoint event, the annual Solana conference in Lisbon scheduled for Nov. 4-7, 2022. There the team will have the opportunity to present their project to the entire Solana community.

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Cronos launched v0.2.0 on March 9, 2022. This version was a significant improvement over the v0.1.7 as it enabled per second recurrence intervals compared to the per minute granularities supported by the earlier version.

Concluding Thoughts

Validators are highly critical to the operation of blockchain networks, especially those that use a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. Since the utility of Cronos’s product offering to validators in the Solana enables them to earn automation fees and optimize yields by cranking tasks using the Geyser plugin, users that run a Solana node could find a significant rise in utility and efficiency.

Find more about Cronos here:

Website | Twitter | Documentation | Discord | Github | 

Source : web3wire.news

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