Sharding – Game Changer for Ethereum?

| Publish date: 03/29/2018 (Last updated: March 29, 2018 11:16 AM)

What is Sharding?

Sharding is defined as a kind of partitioning of huge databases into smaller, quicker and more easily managed segments that are called data shards. The basic concept behind this theory is that as the size of a database grows, the quantity of transactions per unit of time made in a linear fashion also increases. Since the transactions are linear, the response time obviously increases exponentially.

Another aspect to get impacted with extremely large databases is cost. The larger the database, the greater is the computing power required, meaning high-end, expensive hardware would be needed to maintain that database.

Sharding can solve this issue by distributing the data shards over multiple servers thereby reducing transaction times as well as costs.

How Does this Impact Ethereum?

According to Coindesk’s news report, developers are seriously considering sharding as a scaling solution for the Ethereum network. The biggest hurdles that Ethereum has been facing are scaling up and efficiencies. The data-heavy blockchain has been struggling with scaling issues for some time now, and developers have been searching for solutions to this problem. And sharding just may be the answer.

While this solution is currently just theoretical, its concept has many extremely excited, to the extent that some ambitious developers are already introducing protocol-level designs that could be introduced as upgrades to the blockchain network.

According to a researcher at Cornell’s Initiative for Cryptocurrency and Contracts (IC3), Phil Daian, sharding would be a massive change for the network. It would give them a chance to completely redesign economic models as well as other aspects of the blockchain network.

This realization came after a retreat for developers in Taipei, where concepts such as sharding were discussed as possible options to improve the Ethereum system. In fact, Daian, along with an all-star team of crypto developers such as Ari Juels, Florian Tramer and Lorenz Breidenback, is working on an initiative called Project Chicago, whose purpose is to redesign the Ethereum network to make it more efficient and scalable.

The premise that the project works on is that at its very core, Ethereum is just a marketplace for cryptocommodities. These are just raw resources that are used for blockchain transactions such as block space, space in a UTXO set or even computation, such as what is used for the GasToken contract.

The GasToken contract was actually the trigger for developers realizing the inefficiencies in Ethereum’s current incentive structure, which was causing people to store “garbage” on the blockchain, leading to bloating in the system.

By sharding these transactions or cryptocommodities into separate markets, the developers would be able to increase efficiencies for the Ethereum network and reduce the clutter currently bogging down the systems.

Daian states that people would need to start moving away from the increasingly centralized blockchain and start valuing decentralization.


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