Originally published on NEAR Medium.
Machina, the sharded data storage project created in collaboration with NEAR, Aurora, and online security protocol HAPI, is launching on NEAR to revolutionize how data is stored. The Machina team, which received a grant from NEAR Foundation, chose NEAR because of the simplicity and ease of writing code and deploying/testing Smart Contracts, as well as to take advantage of its carbon neutral, proof-of-stake blockchain.
Designed to provide scalable, cost-efficient, and immediately retrievable information on-chain, Machina uses the unique sharding properties of NEAR’s Nightshade to scale up the data stored proportionally to the number of validators joining the network. Entities using Machina’s storage are not tied to any specific payment model of any particular currency or asset. Instead, storage payment is deducted in stablecoins, which ensures that developers and users alike have an easier time dealing with fees.
Machina will use file-based storage, storing every transaction directly into it, removing the runtime needed to trigger the retrieval or uploading of data. The platform makes on-chain data accessible on-chain, along with all of blockchain’s security measures like consensus and decentralization. This will help usher in a new era of smart contract development.
By instituting a reliable, immediately retrievable, and always-online on-chain storage solution, Machina can be used by both NEAR apps — with the help of EVMs such as Aurora — and Solidity-based Smart Contracts on Ethereum. Beyond storing data, Machina allows dapp teams to query data and retrieve it without any off-chain requests, meaning Web 3 has a new tool for mass adoption.
Data, done differently
To minimize time, energy, and computational overhead, Machina employs a method called File Fingerprinting, which maps data, giving each dataset a unique identifier. This means each validator will only have to approve or disprove the integrity of data by a given short text string. Consensus validation is then made based on the reached agreement on the fingerprint.
Unlike other proposed solutions of decentralized data storage, like Arweave, Storj, and Filecoin, Machina doesn’t use an energy-intensive proof-of-work protocol to validate or inversely invalidate the integrity of data. Instead, it leverages NEAR’s Nightshade sharding, allowing Machina to scale as more players join the network.
“The implementation of sharding on NEAR is crucial to set out a new standard for on-chain immutable storage,” says Dona Mara, CEO of Hapi. “Machina acts as a separate shard within the NEAR Blockchain.”
“This means that any dapp built on NEAR can communicate with Machina including storing and querying data. Interoperability is possible with NEAR nodes being installed in the blockchain that you want to interoperate with. Moreover, Rainbow Bridge might be of help in facilitating that.”
Storage, without the gas
Since Machina will not use smart contracts, it will not have arbitrary Turing-complete computations. In other words, Machina won’t need to attach gas.
“We will be able to completely remove gas as a concept and not require attaching anything to the transactions,” says Alex Shevchenko, CEO of Aurora. “To allow storing of huge amounts of data we can charge different fees depending on when the last time the given data was accessed."
The Machina storage network is currently slated for a Q4 2022 launch.
Machina is a sharded data storage structure that is designed to provide scalable, cost-efficient, and immediately retrievable information on-chain. Machina leverages the unique properties of NEAR”s Nightshade sharding to provide a seamless economic model utilizing stablecoins.
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