Ethereum Sharding is able to solve Ethereums scalability problem. So the idea of sharding is building sub blockchains on top of the Ethereum blockchain. The goal is to keep the main chain exactly as it is. As a result, transactions happen on the sub chains, but the main chain will still secure them.
Why do we need Sharding?
We need Sharding because Ethereum has a scalability problem. It’s a pretty drastic scalability solution, because the work of the actual network is now handled by the individual shards. These, however, are limited by the computing power of one of the processing computers.
But if you could double the power of your pcs, you could automatically create twice as big blocks and twice as many shards with sharding. In total, the network will be four times as powerful.
What is Ethereum Sharding?
It breaks the network in a lot of sub blockchains. They are all independent. These blockchains have the same security and consensus as for the main chain. So you don’t have to worry about independent consensus on every single sub blockchain. These sub chains can scale better because they exist for a specific purpose.
So if you want to transfer a coin, you only have to watch this specific shard and not the entire network. As a result, you are not trying to do everything on one main chain as we do it currently with Ethereum.
How does Sharding work?
So every shard is just a kind of sub blockchain. Each shard will be connected to the beacon blockchain and it will have nodes. They call these nodes collators and they are similar to miners. The network randomly selects and tasks them with creating collations.
Each collation has a header which contains signatures from at least two-thirds of collators to ensure validity. Headers will also have information. They identify the shard that the collation belongs to as well as information regarding the state of the shard before and after the transaction. Once a collation is proposed, a random selection of notary nodes checks it and sends it to the Beacon Chain. So the beacon chain is like the heartbeat of sharding. It randomly selects collators, keeps time stamps and manages transactions.
So the point of sharding is that as a validator you only have to keep track of the minimum of all the headers of every single shard. You have to be a client for all the shards. So as a validator they will choose you randomly to actually download the block data.
The results of Sharding
This increased the throughput because the transaction volume is distributed and only certain nodes process transactions for certain shards. So instead of the entire blockchain carrying all the weight, they split the network into smaller working pieces. This doesn’t only increase the speed while lowering the size of processed data, but it also allows for a more decentralized system.
The challenges of Sharding
The challenge of Sharding is making sure that each shard is secure on its own and capable of reconciling with the others in order to maintain a unified ledger. It also needs to ensure the overall integrity of the blockchain. So as this new solution is developing we are sure there will be a lot more challenges. But as long as we find solutions for these challenges, Ethereum has a bright future.
“Ethereum Sharding” – Summarized:
- Sharding can solve the scalability problem of Ethereum
- It breaks the network in independent sub blockchain
- They have the same security and consensus as for the main chain
- So the nodes in the sub blockchain are collators
- The network randomly selects and tasks them with creating collations
- Thus, the challenge of Sharding is to ensure the security and integrity of each shard
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