Ethereum’s Sharding Proof of Concept Paves the Way for Improved Scalability

Popular cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum will need to keep evolving in the future. One of the upcoming developments to look forward to is sharding. This technological upgrade has been hinted at for quite some time now, yet it seems there is a proof of concept in place for users to play around with. This is a pretty big development for the Ethereum ecosystem as a whole, although there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Sharding Comes Closer to Release

Users of Ethereum have been looking forward to seeing this ecosystem scale for quite some time now. It is evident that transitioning Ethereum to a different form of technology is not all that easy, but things are slowly heading in the right direction. With a proof of concept code base for sharding having been released, it’s evident that Ethereum will enter a completely new era fairly soon.

As of right now, there is still no official release date set for sharding, but it seems “soon” is an accurate time frame. The proof of concept will ensure that sharding can be “bolted on top of the current Ethereum main chain”. This will be done using a specialized random beacon and shard block times of well below 10 seconds. It is a very technical concept which has been explained by Vitalik Buterin on Reddit, and it’s one that seemingly makes a lot of sense.

Based on the current implementation, it seems the proof of concept beacon chain will generate new blocks which are between two and eight seconds apart. This randomness factor will remain in place as the sharding concept matures and becomes the new norm, as it is part of the overall concept. Although this is not a complete implementation of what sharding will be about, it does give Ethereum users an idea of what they can expect moving forward.  

There are still a few aspects of sharding which will need to be implemented in future test versions. For example, the mechanism for notaries to confirm shard collations is not included, although implementing it will be simple. The proof of concept doesn’t include the shard-to-main-chain crosslink either, but that is only to be expected at this relatively early stage of development.

Considering that sharding is Ethereum’s massive scaling improvement, it is of the utmost importance that this technology works as expected. To ensure it does, it will need to be put through its paces and be expanded upon through various testing phases. For now, there is still no official release date set, but this proof of concept shows things are coming together a lot quicker than people expected.

With full sharding of everything – not just transactions – now being possible for testing purposes, a lot of user feedback can be collected. This doesn’t mean the current proof of concept will be the final version by any means, but it is a valid foundation for how Ethereum will scale in the months and years to come. It will be interesting to see how long users will have to wait until sharding is an actual part of Ethereum. Combined with other upcoming improvements such as the switch to proof-of-stake and a potential cap on the coin supply, the future looks pretty bright for Ethereum as a whole.