Rootstock (RSK), the first Bitcoin-powered smart contract platform, has recently launched its testnet “Turmeric”, with a considerable portion of bitcoin miners showing their support for the platform and testing the merge-mining feature, one that will allow Rootstock to secure its blockchain with no extra electricity or computing costs on the miner whatsoever. Bitcoin mining software has been modified to accommodate this feature that allows miners to work on both blockchains while keeping the same performance. RSK currently supports CKPool, Eloipool and Slush pools.
While smart contracts will not be deployed on the Bitcoin blockchain itself, users will be able to send bitcoins to a special address monitored by the RSK-BTC bridge smart contract, a 2-way peg (2WP) that allows the transfer of bitcoins from the Bitcoin blockchain to a Secondary blockchain (in this case the RSK blockchain) and vice-versa. The Bitcoins will be locked on the BTC blockchain and you will receive RSK on the “other side”.
The method for doing so in the RSK case is a combination of a drive chain with notaries and sidechain. Since the drivechain model gives custody of the locked BTC to the Bitcoins miners, and allows Bitcoin miners to vote when to unlock bitcoins and where to send them, there must be a considerable amount of Bitcoin miners merge mining RSK. If not, there is an incentive for the miners to behave dishonestly. Therefore, RSK can trade-off security and decentralization according to amount of merge-mining engagement. If merge-mining is performed by a majority of miners, the 2 way peg can be decentralized, if not RSK can change to a notary based system, where a federation (group of respectable exchanges) take custody of the bitcoin sent. On the RSK side, the system used is a sidechain (one that can not be implemented in Bitcoin without a hard-fork) since the blockchain is built to understand the consensus system of the BTC blockchain and can therefore automatically release coins when given proof of a lock transaction in the other blockchain. - Read more about it here.
So, while these smart contracts will not be deployed on the Bitcoin blockcahin itself, the value of the RSK coins will be attached to Bitcoin’s, which means that users won’t have to invest in another altcoin to get the results they need, they just need to send their Bitcoin to the 2-way peg. This gives RSK an inherent advantage over any other Smart Contract platform, given that Bitcoin is the most popular crypto out there. RSK smart contracts can be programmed with a solidity compiler, meaning that developers can run most of the existing dapps on the RSK platform without modifications. Furthermore, RSK’s virtual machine is six times faster than competing VMs. Projects like the Wings Platform, a hub to kickstart and join projects, have already recognized the value of the RSK solution and will be deploying their platform on its blockchain.
The RSK’s mainnet, dubbed “Ginger”, is scheduled to be launched during April of 2017, until then users can keep up with the RSK official blog for updates, news, and interesting articles.