During the conference at TechCrunch held on Friday, Justin Drake, the Ethereum Foundation researcher spoke about Sharding and the possibility of it being implemented as early as 2020.
What is Sharding?
The Ethereum blockchain is highly secure owing to the interdependency of the nodes. Every single node that is running the Ethereum network has to process every single transaction that is going through the network. While this ensures security considering how much validation is going into each block, time efficiency is compromised. This means that an entire blockchain is only as fast as its individual nodes. The issue of scalability is related to the idea that a blockchain can have at most two out of the following three properties:
Sharding refers to the splitting of the entire state of the network into many partitions called ‘shards’. Each shard contains its own independent piece of state and transaction history. Since this system allows nodes to process transactions only for particular shards, the result becomes a higher amount of transactions being processed in the same amount of time.
In a recent discussion, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, and Justin Drake talked about the goals and functions of their upcoming new features. Buterin said:
“There are a lot of people who are sending transactions and want those transactions to get into 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.”
Justin Drake spoke about their two main priorities at the moment being Casper [the Proof-of-Stake fork], and Sharding. The Ethereum scaling solution is orienting its goal to allow its blockchain to take more users and transactions without it slowing down and clogging the network. Drake said:
“The idea of proof of stake is partly to provide a new superpower to blockchains which is called finality. The other idea of proof of stake is to reduce the cost of consensus.”
He went on to explain that the integration of Casper with sharding would give way to increased security and scalability in one design. This new, complex, and ambitious initiative has been named “Ethereum 2.0” by the team.
“My expectation is that Casper will come first- possible next year, 2019. 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.”
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