Ethereum 2.0, dubbed Serenity, is the next evolution of Ethereum which aims to solve the scalability issues currently plaguing the Ethereum public chain. The main innovation that will help Ethereum 2.0 scale is sharding. As many of you know, TOP Network is also implementing sharding to reach scalability. In fact, the overall public-chain architectures of Ethereum 2.0 and TOP Chain are similar, although there are some key differences.
Beyond architecture, there is another crucial difference. It will be years before Ethereum 2.0 is ready, while TOP Network’s public chain is relatively close to launching.
According to a recent call between Ethereum developers, phase 0 of Serenity is not set to launch until January 3rd, 2020. As this is just phase 0, Ethereum 2.0 won’t be ready for public use until long after this date. The full roll-out of Serenity is broken down into 3 main phases over several years.
Phase 0: Beacon Chain
Phase 0 will mark the launch of the PoS Beacon Chain. This new chain will run alongside the Ethereum main chain, but will not be used for much at first. The Beacon Chain will be important for the later phases, but in phase 0 it will simply be a bare bones PoS chain without support of smart-contracts.
Phase 1: Shard Chains
Phase 1 will introduce shard chains, although they will not be fully functional during phase 1. Sharding is of course the main driver of scalability, allowing for parallel transaction processing and splitting the storage load amongst different groups of nodes. Phase 1 will be more of a trial of shard chains, at which time things like smart-contracts will not be supported. During this period, the original Ethereum public chain will still be running. Phase 1 does not yet have a release date, so the launch will likely be closer to the end of 2020 granted phase 0 goes smoothly.
Phase 2: Smart-Contracts
In phase 2, shard chains will become more complete, and tentatively support smart-contracts. Other missing functionality and token economic considerations may also be included as well in this phase. For example, on-chain storage “rent” will likely be introduced in phase 2. This phase will not come before 2021, but could take longer depending on what happens with the previous phases.
There are phases beyond phase 2 that will introduce things like cross-shard transactions, but those plans are a bit more tenuous.
So why should you care about Etheruem 2.0’s roadmap? Well, Ethereum is by far the most successful and respected smart-contract platform, and also the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap. However, while Ethereum 2.0 is hailed as the ideal solution to the blockchain scalability trilemma, it is still very far off. Businesses and DApp developers have been waiting for Ethereum to scale for years now, and waiting until 2021 or later for Ethereum 2.0 may not be an option for many projects.
This leaves a huge opportunity for another public chain platform like TOP Network to step up. Of course, Ethereum has had many competitors over the past few years, but almost every one of these projects has ended up simply taking shortcuts by making trade-offs between security and decentralization.
The Ethereum developer community has correctly identified sharding as the best, albeit most difficult, method for on-chain scaling while remaining decentralized, and TOP Network takes the same approach. However, Ethereum 2.0 has yet to describe how it will solve a few of the major challenges associated with sharding. Things like how to incentivise beacon chain nodes, all the intricacies of staking in a sharded system, and more.
Indeed, sharding is immensely complex, and there are many things that must be accounted for. The focus of the development team for the past several months has been to address the remaining challenges, and shore up any potential security concerns. Now that we have answers for essentially all of the hard challenges, things are looking very promising. In part 2, these challenges will be laid out in a bit more detail.
You may wonder how it is possible that TOP Network could be moving so fast in terms of technology when compared to a project like Ethereum. There are several reasons, although the most important are:
- TOP Network has a large full-time development team, especially for the blockchain space.
- It is painstakingly hard and risky for Ethereum to do major updates since so many projects already rely on their public chain. The only option to upgrade the chain is hard forking, which is a lengthy and arduous process. Some have compared making updates to the Ethereum public chain with changing the wheels on a race car as it’s going full speed. Fortunately, TOP Network does not have to deal with this challenge.
This is not to take away from Ethereum. However, the reality is that a scalable blockchain and smart-contract platform is badly needed now, and TOP Network will be ready to fulfill that need long before Ethereum 2.0 is ready.