Ethereum was officially made known to the world three years ago, having being developed by Vitalik Buterin and now Consensys founder – Joseph Lubin – and now it is the second largest cryptocurrency on the market by market cap. It was announced as a decentralized and open source network for data processing with blockchain technology. The network which eventually became known as the world computer because of its speed in transaction over bitcoin however had one problem and that was its PoW system.
PoW, which stands for Proof-of-Work, is the algorithm that is used by the Ethereum blockchain network to verify works or transactions on the chain. However, this system faces one major issue – scalability. Whenever transactions become many on the network within a particular time period, transaction speeds drop drastically and even possibly increase transaction fees. A classic example of scalability issues was when Ethereum decided to issue out tokens in the form of cute little cats which it called crypto kitties to its users. As millions across the globe where trooping in to the network to own these crypto kitties, the network began to face serious scaling issues and transactions began to lag drastically.
Apparently, the developers knew this was coming for them one day and put structures in place to move to a different algorithm which is Proof-of-Stake (PoS). From as far back as last year, Ethereum developers have been working on new systems to fix issues in its present chain and network. The two known ones are Sharding and Serenity.
At Devcon3 last year the Ethereum developers gave members of the Ethereum household and the larger crypto community a gist of the progress of these projects for the network. At Devcon4 this year, one of the key developers of the network, Justin Drake, gave updates on the Ethereum projects as he had the platform to speak at Ethereum’s major annual conference last month.
Drake first made mention of how Serenity, which is also dubbed as Ethereum 2.0, the next major update scheduled to it the network will be the real future of the Ethereum network. Serenity is touted to operate with the new Proof-of-Stake algorithm. There is also Sharding in the works, the name derived from the ability of the new system to literally split sets of data on the network into shards which makes it easier to process and solve the scaling issue which is caused presently by the network processing data in their very huge chunks. Ethereum developers argue that since it is a decentralised network Sharding will make it more efficient and also increase transaction speeds on the network.
Sharding is scheduled to hit the shelves somewhere in 2020 – and people aren’t pleased with the tentative release date. Most people have criticised Ethereum’s developers for being uncharacteristically slow in creating and releasing the Sharding update. Justin clarified most worries about the release date when he told the participants at the conference that the developers have made some mistakes during the programming and people seem to have also underestimated the complex levels and layers of work that need to be done “in reality” to produce a perfect fit for the network. Whereas most people are complaining about a delay, Drake says the developers are “moving extremely fast to meet up” with the demands of the community.
That’s it folks, you aren’t getting Sharding any time soon, not in your best definition of the word “soon”.
The much-anticipated Constantinople hard fork that was rumoured to hit the network this year is said to be scheduled for January next year after the Devcon4 conference last month. This is all as result of foundational projects to get Serenity released into the right environment. Serenity Phase 0 is scheduled for next year, followed by Phase 1 in the subsequent year and the Second Phase in 2021. Drake puts it as
“The ascension of the project to its next phase may eventually facilitate a pure PoS consensus, as well as faster times for synchronous confirmation (from 8-16 seconds), and economic finality (between 10-20 minutes).”
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