All seems to be going well for development at the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency. The team at the Ethereum foundation is actively busy testing the latest featured of the Metropolis upgrade.
One of the most important of these features was the movement from Proof-of-Work mining to Proof-of-Stake. Ethereum has been working on a hybrid between the two solutions that has aptly been named the Casper POS protocol.
This has been on the Testnet and has been running for a few weeks already. According to Vitalik Buterin who is the founder of Ethereum:
The Casper aspect of Casper, where two conflicting blocks should not be able to be finalized, seems to actually happen running and the network agrees all along what the final chain is
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Although the Casper Hybrid has been running in the testing environment, it has not been without a few problems. Apparently the nodes losing their connection and get floods of new connections so the developers have had to institute clever hacks to get around this.
This means that the Ethereum developers will have to complete quite a bit more testing before there can be any sort of live implementation of the protocol. However, according to Buterin it seems as if the most important part of the upgrade is indeed effective.
This is the manner in which conflicting nodes are able to reach a network consensus. With the minor reconnection issues corrected, it is entirely possible that we could see Casper hitting the Mainnet by the middle of the year.
There has also been quite a lot of work that has been done on the sharding side. This is arguably one of the most important updates to blockchain technology ever as it aims to markedly decrease transaction times.
Blockchain sharding uses parallelisation of blockchains. This will eliminate the inefficiency of current blockchains where each node will have to complete the exact same work as the other ones on the network.
Quite simply, sharding will group the various nodes into a separate groups. Each of these collections of nodes will validate different sets of transaction in parallel. Then, through a consensus forming algorithm the nodes are bound together to determine the legitimacy of all the transactions.
Although the potential of blockchain sharding is no doubt quite impressive, there are 4 phases that need to be completed and we are currently only in the first part of the first phase. The rest will now have to be structured and developed separately.
This is something that many people are eagerly focused on as the Ethereum network has had periods of severe congestion. Although the implementation is at the first stage, the hope is that by the start of next year the developers could have completed the first phase.
There have also been a number of other efficiency improvements to the current infrastructure that will make it easier for miners to run nodes. More specifically, the improvements on Geth, the Ethereum client, are being touted by developers.
— Péter Szilágyi (karalabe.eth) (@peter_szilagyi) January 19, 2018
Given that miners can now set up a node much more quickly with the updated client, it could allow for increased short term capacity on the network at current transaction rates.
This all means that Ethereum is able to keep the costs down for the medium term. Until the lightning network can be fully implemented on the Bitcoin network, Ethereum fees will be comparatively more attractive.
As the more important long term updates such as Casper POS and sharding start being rolled out in a live environment, the full potential of Ethereum will no doubt be on full display.
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