Holiday special AMA on May 30, which featured Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin. While the entire session was filled with interesting insight, what definitely caught the attention of most viewers were Buterin’s thoughts on Sharding and Plasma, two major improvements to the Ethereum blockchain which are currently under development.
- Sharding in specific splits a blockchain network to shards which are then equipped with a group of nodes that are tasked to process information of certain shards. With Sharding enabled, all nodes on the blockchain are not required to process every single piece of data settled on the blockchain, optimizing the process of settling information.
- Plasma, a solution developed by Buterin and Lightning Network co-author Joseph Poon, operates similarly to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, as it enables Ethereum to process micropayments by creating child blockchain networks within the main blockchains to process information more swiftly, leveraging the security of the main Ethereum protocol and thus not leaving the network vulnerable to potential attacks.
Currently, Ethereum’s blockchain can support up to 15 transactions per second (TPS). Recognizing that this has become widely inefficient and, for what it’s worth, insufficient, Buterin explained that the team’s concentrated efforts have been to handle what could be a major roadblock for Ethereum’s further development.
Buterin in the video spoke about the two solutions,
“The reason I think layer 1 and layer 2 [networks] are complementary is because ultimately, if you look at the math, the scalability gains from the layer 1 improvements and layer 2 improvements do ultimately multiply with each other. If you have a Sharding solution, the Sharding solution itself might increase the scalability of Ethereum by a factor of 100, or eventually even more.
But then, if you do Plasma on top of the scalability solution, then what that means is, you’re not just doing 100 times of the amount of activity but you are doing 100 times the amount of entrances, the amount of exits, and despute resolutions”
Buterin further noted that the synergy between layer 1 and layer 2 solutions would increase the scalability of Ethereum by 10,000x, allowing the network to process millions of transactions per second and supporting most applications.
“So if you get a 100x from Sharding and a 100x from Plasma, those two basically give you a 10,000x scalability gain, which basically means blockchains will be powerful enough to handle most applications most people are trying to do with them,” Buterin added.
Since this was, after all, an OMG AMA, one user question did capture his attention:
“Will the OMG Network scale up to a million transactions even without sharding?”
To this, Buterin confidently responded that if “if it does, Sharding will scale it up to one hundred million.”
If innovation like this is implemented correctly, it could definitely help solve Ethereum blockchain’s scalability issues, keeping itself at number one all through the years.
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