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R3 CordaCon explores Intel SGX, zero knowledge proofs and netting on distributed ledgers

R3 has hosted its first CordaCon event in London, just before the release of Corda version 1.0 at the end of this month.

Introducing the event, R3 lead engineer Richard Gendal Brown said Corda 1.0 is an important mark in the sand for the banking consortium, providing API stability for a growing army of developers. He also announced the expected release of the first enterprise version at the end of the year, which will feature things like Intel SGX, enhanced DLT performance and greater disaster recovery capabilities.

Privacy was going to be a governing theme for the day: lead platform engineer Mike Hearn had arranged a compare and contrast between SGX and zero knowledge proofs, while Intel and Microsoft were on hand to talk in detail about architecture. There was also going to be a discussion with demo around cash, and specifically the challenge of multiparty netting on distributed ledgers.

Simon Johnson, Intel's SGX program architect, began by looking at trusted execution environments in some detail. SGX changes the memory architecture of computers, he said, leveraging an "Enclave Page Cache Map" (EPCM), a protected structure used by the processor to track the contents of the EPC.

Mike Hearn clarified that developers building apps for Corda would not have to delve into the fineries of SGX; R3's engineering team have gone to some lengths to implement the JVM inside the enclave. "So you don't have to do anything. This is what we are shielding you from," said Hearn.

R3's relationship with Microsoft has always been strong and is now deepening, said Marley Gray, principal architect, Azure Blockchain Engineering, Microsoft. Ethereum remains by far the most popular thing people want to spin up on Azure, something of "a rite of passage".

"We also have to support Fabric," added Gray, "and we see a lot of things like hackthons happening. But for PoCs it's a no-brainer. You will see a lot more R3/Azur...

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