Sharding has long been billed as Ethereum’s solution to network clogging, and at this scaling solution is definitely needed if the project is to grow into the future. Justin Drake, a researcher at the Ethereum Foundation says the technology could be implemented as soon as 2020.
Drake (I know what you’re thinking but no, not that one) and Vitalik Buterin were in discussion with popular website TechCrunch in Zug, Switzerland yesterday and outlined their envisioned objectives and functions of new upgrades to the network. It is generally accepted that scaling solutions are among the biggest priority for the network at the moment. In the last week ETH fees have increased by up to 7000% because of what many see as network clogging
Buterin said, regarding scaling that transaction fees depend largely on supply and demand.
“There are a lot of people who are sending transactions and want those transactions to get onto the blockchain. The blockchain is popular enough and people are interested enough in using it that they basically have to compete to get those transactions included into the blocks.” said Buterin.
Basic supply and demand: this competition forces the fees upwards.
When asked if the network could be started again from scratch, would they do things differently, Buterin said that of course there are features that could always help with scaling but at the end of the day it’s a “fundamentally hard” problem either way.
Later in discussion, Drake outlined that the two biggest priorities for now are Casper and Sharding.
Casper is the Ethereum network fork from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake consensus. Sharding will allow the network to carry more users and transactions without it becoming congested and slowing down.
Drake also added that the two projects, which started out as distinct objectives, are now to be combined, since they share a common infrastructure and will be mutually beneficial to one another when implemented together.
“With sharding you have all these different shards and they’re like parallel universes, pretty disconnected from each other and so you want to wait for the shards to be able to communicate with each other and we do that by what we call cross-links or checkpoints.” said Drake, adding that combination with Casper, these checkpoints are strengthened resulting in better security and scalability all round.
So, the two things are now combined, but what do we call this? Well “Ethereum 2.0” is how the team has described it; an ambitious project which will be rolled out incrementally over a number of years but will nevertheless be part of one design.
“My expectation is that Casper will come first — possible next year, 2019,” explained Drake. “Then in Sharding we’ve actually broken it down into two big phases. Phase one is actually the data layer, so coming to consensus as to what data is in the shards. Phase two is all about the state, giving meaning to that data and the notion of transaction.”
The Sharding phases one and two are expected to follow in 2020 and 2021 according to Drake.
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Alex has been putting words on paper since he was old enough to hold a pen; when he bought his first bitcoin in January 2017, those words discovered their place within crypto as well. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his special expertise lies in European cryptocurrency regulation.