Tempo [ /ˈtɛmˌpoʊ/ ]**** is a consensus protocol developed as the fifth iteration of Radix. First proposed in 2017, Tempo pioneered innovations such as ledger pre-sharding to allow for the grouping of related transactions, and ‘lazy’ consensus. The ideas contained in the Tempo and Public Node Incentives papers served as a foundation for Radix's subsequent Cerberus protocol.

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The IOTA Killer? Radix DLT—Tempo vs Tangle

The IOTA Killer? Radix DLT—Tempo vs Tangle

Whitepapers https://assets.super.so/2a0d12a5-9454-4417-b17e-d51617137fb6/files/e4f934ff-25c3-4ffe-a6dd-2bbb82714e64.pdf,
Sybil Protection Mass
State Model https://radixdlt.notion.site/Sharding-6b6dc10c1f83403d8dfb0559dc925eb9 (18.4 * 10^18 shards)
Consensus Mechanism https://hackernoon.com/hotstuff-the-consensus-protocol-behind-safestake-and-facebooks-librabft
Fault Tolerance Byzantine Fault Deterministic
Execution Environment https://radixdlt.notion.site/1cd101cd52264df9806d63da555d5828 v1


Tempo emerged from efforts to solve inherent scalability limitations in blockchain architectures like Bitcoin and Ethereum. While revolutionary, these early blockchain designs restricted transaction speeds to levels inadequate for worldwide adoption. Radix aimed to create a distributed ledger capable of serving global demand - potentially allowing billions of people to use decentralized applications. This required rethinking core components like network architecture, data structure, and consensus mechanisms. Inspiration came from areas like directed acyclic graphs, which demonstrated high transaction speeds but compromises in decentralization. No existing approach provided the combination of scalability, decentralization, and programmability Radix sought.

Tempo’s core innovation was allowing the ledger to be massively sharded to enable parallel transaction processing. Consensus was also optimized for scalability using a ‘lazy’ mechanism where nodes only communicate when necessary, avoiding unnecessary global coordination. Logical clocks and temporal proofs were introduced to establish consensus and order between events. Together these new techniques aimed to fulfill the vision of a fast, decentralized, and programmable global ledger capable of serving as the infrastructure for the next generation of digital applications.

On June 11th, 2019, engineers from RDX Works replayed 10 years worth of Bitcoin transactions on the Radix ledger in under 30 minutes using the Tempo consensus mechanism.

The invention of Tempo led to Dan Hughes being accepted into Y Combinator in 2017.


The core ideas behind Tempo were state sharding, lazy consensus, logical clocks, temporal proofs, and cryptographic commitments.

State Sharding

Sharding involved partitioning the ledger into 18.4 quintillion ($18.4 * 10^{18}$) shards, with each shard deterministically corresponding to an address, consisting of a public key and a checksum. Nodes only need to store and validate a subset of shards, which allows parallel transaction processing since each shard could process requests independently. Tempo utilized "massive presharding", fixing the number of shards at the onset rather than dynamically adjusting. This enabled smooth capacity scaling tailored to each node.

Lazy Consensus

Lazy consensus further optimized performance by having nodes only communicate when necessary rather than constantly. Nodes would accept requests then only check with others if a conflict arose later. This greatly reduced coordination overhead.

Logical Clocks

Logical clocks tracked events witnessed by each node. Nodes would attach a logical clock value to each request, creating a temporal proof. These could resolve conflicts by identifying ordering between disputed events.

Cryptographic Commitments

Cryptographic commitments were also implemented to hold nodes accountable for their logical clock values, preventing manipulation. Nodes had to commit to their recent requests when contributing to proofs.


On June 11th 2019, Radix conducted a public test to demonstrate Tempo's scalability using 10 years of Bitcoin transaction history. The test replayed all Bitcoin transactions onto a Tempo test network, validating signatures and checking for double spends. The network consisted of over 1000 nodes distributed globally across data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Each node was assigned a subset of the massive shared state space to validate. During the test, the network exceeded 1 million transactions per second - processing the entirety of Bitcoin history in under 30 minutes. This provided proof-of-concept that Tempo could support the transaction demands of global scale applications.