The Ethereum Foundation wants to kick the year of 2018 with a bang. The foundation is looking forward to improving their platform to be able to support more companies and to continue to be a crucial part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The non-profit has just recently announced that it would give grants to groups of qualified people who can contribute to their effort in solving the issue of scalability in the blockchain.
Vitalik notified the Ethereum and overall blockchain community of this call through a blog post that he posted on January 2nd, 2018.
The aspect of scaling is something that needs to be figured out across the blockchain community to be able to bring about more revolutionary applications to society.
The Call for Qualified Blockchain Researchers
The Foundation will be investing specifically in this regard of scaling and will open up a program dedicated to this aspect. The non-profit will soon roll out another general program as well in the coming days. The subsidies that they will provide will range from fifty thousand dollars to one million dollars. There will be potential for the release of more grants for projects which can show significant progress and provide a path for much-needed solutions.
Vitalik made sure to highlight two main points in being able to bring scalability to blockchains. These points are comprised of sharding and another, called layer 2.
Sharding and Layer 2
What is sharding?
Sharding is a type of database partitioning that separates vast databases the into smaller, faster, more efficiently managed parts called data shards. The word shard means a small part of a whole.
The method of sharding is supposed to allow for improvements to the base layer protocols of the system that provide the foundation for the critical aspects of decentralization and safety in the blockchain. The reason why sharding is interesting is because it, as mentioned above, only needs to have a minuscule amount of nodes to run and clear transactions. This allows for an increase in various transactions to happen at once.
Sharding sounds good, but what’s Layer 2?
In the method of layer 2, a significant portion of the transactions will be taking place separate from the main chain (off chain). This means that transactions will be interacting directly with the blockchain itself, with an entry point and departure from the second layer or layer 2.
One could look to the concept of Raiden to understand more about layer two solutions.
According to the Raiden Network:
“The Raiden Network is an off-chain scaling solution, enabling near-instant, low-fee and scalable payments. It’s complementary to the Ethereum blockchain and works with any ERC20 compatible token.”
A mixture of both methods
Vitalik, for his part, seems to think that both methods might need to be used for the best system and thus, is in favor of using a mixture of both methods.
The Ethereum blockchain is growing rapidly and is on track to processing one million in transactions on a daily basis. Making it a higher priority to address scaling issues sooner than later.
The team at Ethereum has been stepping up their focus on sharding, and they are close to some deliverable. Vitalik is looking for the sharding testnet to come about soon and then the mainnet to already be equipped with multi-client functionality from the start.