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Vlad Zamfir Codes Sharding Prototype, What it Means for Ethereum Scalability

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:40 PM
Joseph Young
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:40 PM

Ethereum researcher and developer Vlad Zamfir has created the first successful proof-of-concept of second-layer scaling solution Sharding with developers Tim Beiko and John Marling.

At ETH Berlin, one of the world’s largest Ethereum hackathons, Zamfir said in an interview with Rachel Rose O’Leary at Coindesk  that Ethereum developers will be able to run the proof-of-concept on their computers in the upcoming weeks, but it is still a prototype that is not close to being integrated into the Ethereum network.

“It’s really a proof-of-concept of the most core component in my sharding roadmap. It prevents the cross-shard atomicity failure, or more specifically, it prevents finalization of cross-shard atomicity failure, so it will never be that a ‘send’ is finalized and a ‘not received’ is finalized,” said  Zamfir, adding that the software will be tested throughout the weeks to come.

“We’re still working on the integration but check back in a week and it should be something where we have instructions and you can follow the instructions and get it running on your computer.”

How Far Away is Sharding and What Impact Can it Have?

Sharding is a complex second-layer solution for Ethereum that essentially splits up the blockchain into many parts called “Shards” to optimize the process required for nodes to verify information on the blockchain network.

Vitalik Buterin, the co-creator of Ethereum, hinted during an interview  with South Korea-based mainstream media outlet JoongAng, that scaling Ethereum to its full capacity with Sharding and Plasma is expected to take two to five years.

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Achieving hundreds of thousands of transactions to a million transactions on the Ethereum mainnet is possible, but only if Sharding and Plasma, the two major scaling solutions being developed by the open-source developer community of Ethereum, are fully integrated into the network.

Zamfir emphasized that the purpose of the introduction of the first proof-of-concept of Sharding is to educate developers in the space and to kickstart the process of implementing Sharding to a larger extent.

But, the researcher emphasized that the most difficult aspect of the scaling solution, which is cross-shard message and cross-shard consistency problem, are not entirely addressed yet, and to solve highly complex cryptographic issues could take months to years of active development.

Zamfir explained:

“I consider the core of sharding to be a cross-shard message or a cross-shard consistency problem. Vitalik thinks of it as sharding of availability, validity and execution of the state. I have a different perspective than Vitalik does of consensus protocols and therefore also sharding. I’m just focusing on what I think are the hardest problems first.”

Progress Being Made by Independent Projects

On Aug. 1, Status, an Ethereum-based project, released  the first mobile Sharding client in the ecosystem called Nimbus, to assist developers on implementing the research of Sharding to further scale the Ethereum blockchain network.

“A client designed to work well on mobile and embedded systems, that is modular enough to allow for rapid iteration and implementation of the research being done in terms of scaling will, we feel, advance greatly the goals of Ethereum as a decentralised ecosystem,” the Sharding team said.

Zilliqa, another major Sharding-focused project, is implementing a different approach of Sharding pursued by Ethereum, which analysts believe is positive as it would lead to the emergence of alternative scaling solutions that can be adopted by a wider range of decentralized applications (dApps).

Featured Image from Blockchain at Berkeley/YouTube