The creator of the multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency Ethereum, 23 year old hacker Vitalik Buterin, has this week revealed details of his “modest proposal” that lays out the next three to four years of the currency’s technical development.
At the heart of the plan is a technical change known as “sharding”. The plan hints at issues that still need to be solved on the platform. The Ethereum nodes are required to store every event that ever occurred on the network, so Buterin has stressed that the final solution needs to mitigate the storage costs that will otherwise increase exponentially as the platform expands.
Daily transaction rates and the sheer quantity of activity on the blockchain is enormous in comparison to what it was just a few years ago. Now, there are more than 20,000 nodes running as part of the network. Buterin acknowledges that the biggest problem currently faced by his platform is definitely scalability and this needs to be the priority.
Sharding is believed to be the solution to this problem. This system should partition data into subsets, so each node will only need to store a small chunk of the whole network. In theory, nodes would be able to rely on the other nodes for data transference.
A potential problem with sharding is nodes feeding other nodes false information. To combat this, Buterin is proposing using a new type of shard infrastructure. In the new system, Ethereum would be split into different types of shards. The main shard would comprise today’s network and the smaller shards would be the rest of the network; known as other “universes”. These alternate “universes” would give Buterin a chance to roll out the more aggressive changes on smaller shards to protect the main blockchain’s stability.