In computer science, RAM (Random Access Memory) is a form of computer data storage that stores data and machine code currently being used. When running an application, RAM is used to hold active data for a short period of time because RAM is very fast when it comes to reading and writing. Such data includes keys, balances and contract state.
However, in EOSIO sphere, RAM is a more complicated concept. It does not precisely correspond to the RAM concept in computer science. Simply put,, it is all the resources used except CPU and bandwidth in EOS, roughly corresponding to RAM and database in computer science sense.
RAM is a precious resource for development of dApps. Storage of application state will require a dApp developer to ensure there is enough RAM until that state is deleted. When RAM is insufficient for a dApp, some operations are unable to carry out and smart contracts cannot be deployed.
Since RAM is a scarce and trad-able resource, two qualities that usually lead to speculation for anything, that is exactly what happened. Speculators tied up RAM that was supposed to be available to developers. Eventually developers found out that it was more profitable to trade RAM than building dApps so some joined in the cash grab. The developer of the Challenge dApp ended up spending about $200,000 just to launch their project. The RAM speculation slowed down a lot of the dApps that were supposed to be launched since nobody was sure of what the price of RAM was going to be at any moment.
Although there are some proposals that have been implemented, this is still one of the Achilles heel for the EOSIO community. So what is Telos offering? Below are some of the solutions but are not exhaustive since the project leaders continue to learn and will continue to implement any solution that they deem fit to solve this issue.
Limit initial RAM allocation: The EOS launch allocated 64GB of RAM on mainnet launch. This number is far, far more than any dApp on the network requires. To speculators this is an enormous land grab opportunity of a scarce resource at a very cheap price. Eventually this RAM will be valuable. This “RAM-grab” will lead to high speculation and a boom-bust cycle that works against network stability and makes deploying dApps a challenge to budget. This is a strike against the EOS network for serious developers and may serve to keep small innovators priced out of EOS altogether. To encourage developers and avoid price swings, the Telos network will launch with 4GB of RAM. While this sounds low, it will be more than enough to support any real dApps or airdrops on the system. The low number serves as an incentive not to speculate on Telos RAM because new RAM can be released, reducing elevated values of existing speculation.
Tie RAM increases to network utilization: The EOS mainnet is debating how and when to change the RAM supply. Increasing available RAM will temporarily lower the price, but will ultimately worsen speculation because there will be less potential RAM to release in the future. The Telos network will tie new RAM releases to utilization figures. The initial proposed value is that when >50% of the network RAM is consistently in use over a set period of time, new RAM will be released. This will tie new RAM to network growth. The block producers will ultimately determine the network RAM supply via the ‘setram’ action.
Encourage Telos Foundation to help stabilize price swings: The Telos Foundation is a non-governing body with independent governance. Its goal is to promote network growth through grants. It has an endowment for these grants which can also serve as a method to help discourage RAM speculation. The Telos Foundation will publish regular guidance on the price of Telos RAM that it sees as reasonable in the professional opinion of experts hired by the Foundation to set the Telos published guidance price for RAM. When the price is lower than this guidance price, the Telos Foundation may buy RAM. When the price is higher, it may sell. This is intended to help stabilize the price. This approach naturally has its limits, but it is expected to aid in discouraging price gouging. Further, the Telos Foundation may elect to sell or lease RAM to developers at its published guidance price (regardless of current price) to encourage some developers to build on the system. When publishing its guidance price, the Telos Foundation will include published advice to the Telos block producers about when to release more RAM into the system. This decision will remain with the block producers, however. Any professionals hired by the Telos Foundation to set RAM pricing will be prohibited from trading Telos RAM on their own accounts. To ensure that small innovators are not priced out of the network, the Telos Foundation will also issue some grants in the form of RAM to such developers. In such cases, it will favor open source dApps.
In conclusion, I don’t believe that there is a silver bullet to to RAM speculation but there are systems that can be put in place to mitigate the negative consequences and I believe the Telos network has the best solutions so far.
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