After 1.5+ million transactions and 45,000+ smart contracts deployed on the network since the launch of alphanet ‘Liberty’ in April 2022, Shardeum is advancing to betanet release on 2nd February 2023, which also coincides with the project’s 1st anniversary. During the last year’s autoscaling demo, co-founder Omar Syed, who leads the project’s engineering team, summed up the network’s unprecedented endeavor perfectly as “the equivalent of getting a rocket land back on the launchpad, albeit the blockchain version.”
For the uninitiated, Shardeum will be the first in many respects. It is the first smart contract platform with linear scaling, autoscaling, and state sharding while retaining atomic and cross-shard composability in its mission to overcome scalability trilemma. All these groundbreaking features were publicly demonstrated and deployed to varying extents on the alphanet. How is it possible?
An Intro to Dynamic State Sharding
Sharding, in a nutshell, evenly distributes compute workload, storage, and bandwidth across all nodes on the network helping it to achieve higher throughput. That is one reason why Ethereum is exploring to employ various types of sharding on their network in the immediate future. But that is barely sufficient to compete with existing Web2 platforms, let alone replace Web2.
Sharding on Shardeum expands to allow for nodes to be assigned dynamic address ranges across multiple shards on the network. Since consensus happens at a transaction level rather than at block level, transactions that affect multiple shards get processed simultaneously. When this happens, each node on the network can eventually process ‘x’ number of TPS with ‘x’ potentially going up to 1. (Side note: Shardeum’s underlying protocol, Shardus, has previously demonstrated 5 TPS per node). When the traffic goes up on the network, it will auto-scale the throughput capacity by adding more nodes from the ‘standby nodes’ pool, thus enabling Shardeum to scale linearly and horizontally.
Betanet will allow Shardeum to stress-test all the desired features it aims to have in the mainnet with optimal performance. Node operation will be open to the community and the larger public for the first time. The network will continue to rely on them and the dApp/project owners to help with stress testing through bug reporting and performance feedback. And considering the network is EVM-based, betanet will be tailor-made for both new & existing developers to build dApps within minutes.
What Exactly is ‘alphanet’ & ‘betanet’?
Once a tech product idea proves its technical and market feasibility, it will be followed by an extensive period of testing and upgrades to be battle ready for real-world use and utilities (mainnet). The gradual yet volatile upgrades will be made on test networks (also called testnets) typically in two major phases or releases sub-divided into mini-releases before the mainnet. They are called alphanet and betanet. While alphanet is used for testing a technology product’s attributes to a limited extent, betanet is used to test the product’s attributes by simulating the mainnet or production environment. While private companies make the upgrades privately, decentralized platforms like Shardeum rely on the feedback loop established with the public to fine-tune the product.
What is Liberty & Sphinx?
For a long time now, top tech companies have a habit of assigning their testnet releases with more people-friendly and relatable names, similar to how hurricanes are named. For instance, Google’s Android releases were loosely based on desserts, while Ethereum’s releases were named after world cities. Since Shardeum is all about the people and bringing decentralization to them, naming conventions were shortlisted based on the things that have a deep connection and meaning with people around the world. In Shardeum’s case, the shortlisted options were rivers, animals, food, and monuments. Eventually public voted for monuments, and hence Shardeum’s releases are named after world monuments. Alphanet was named ‘Liberty’, and betanet was more recently named ‘Sphinx’, as decided by the community. Here are some snaps from the most recent voting process on the project’s Discord channel. (Click on the images to enlarge them).
Accomplishments on Alphanet Liberty
1. Top Alphanet Highlights
- State sharded smart contract platform
- EVM parallelization at a small scale
- Sharding abstracted from developer experience (DX)
- Introduction and automation of EIP-2930
- 50 validator nodes with shard size of 20 nodes
- TPS capacity of 100
2. Alphanet Growth Metrics
- 45,000+ smart contracts deployed
- 105 ecosystem Projects
- 540,000+ accounts
- 1.5 million transactions
3. Community Growth Metrics
- 300,000+ community members
- 50+ meetups/workshops ~ Proof of Community Events
- 30,000+ newsletter subscribers
- Community rewards of $10,000+
- Fastest growing L1 ecosystem
Upcoming Milestones on Betanet Sphinx
1. Top Betanet Features
- 150 validator nodes initially that will scale up to 300 nodes
- Shard size of 21 nodes initially which will go up to 128 nodes
- Initial TPS of 150, which will scale up to 200 TPS
- EVM parallelization
- Validator GUI will be enabled so anyone can operate a node
- Linear scalability that allows developers to build scalable dApps
- Smoother DX and UX
- Bug bounty program
- Access to grants for top dApp builders
- Whitepaper release
- Source code will be open sourced
2. Benefits for Community
- Community can operate validator & standby nodes
- Low hardware requirements
- Rewards for running a node will be decided as we move further into betanet
- Validate transactions and keep the network safe
- Earn rewards by engaging in various Shardeum initiatives like Shardeum Leagues, Shardeum Missions, Super Shardian
- Help moderate Shardeum’s social media channels for exclusive rewards
- Earn POAPs by participating in Shardeum community events
- A rare learning experience by directly supporting an L1 blockchain project
Community-driven growth and scalability are embedded in Shardeum’s architecture and vision. Remember we discussed the horizontal scalability feature at the beginning? The nature of the network’s design-build allows validator nodes to store only the state data of the accounts they handle, while archiver nodes will store the historical data. This, in turn, capacitates average users to run a node with low hardware requirements leading to high decentralization although both staking and hardware requirement can be expected to be reasonable enough to discourage bot attacks.
Further, Shardeum tech team has implemented GUI keeping in mind node mining on a public network is still a niche job that largely appeals to tech-savvy and affluent folks today. With a beginner-friendly GUI, you can start running a node with a few clicks of your mouse. Most blockchain networks today use CLI. Although they supplement it with documented instructions on running a node via CLI, it is more complex and better suited for developers. These are just a couple of examples that are tied to Shardeum’s core principle – OCC – Open, Collaborative, and Community-driven and the project’s vision to onboard billions of people into Web3 in this decade.
While the community keeps driving the project, and the engineering team continues to fine-tune the innovative technology, other core team members across marketing, people operations, strategy, communications, and business development will work towards creating the largest Web3 ecosystem. From shooting for one million+ community members contributing to the project’s growth to hundreds of dApps/projects building on the network to partnering with valuable private investors providing expert guidance to Shardeum Foundation, the project is well positioned to launch its mainnet in Q2 of 2023. As the project believes in solving the scalability trilemma at the root level, it wants to prioritize security while simultaneously doing its best to launch the mainnet in a timely fashion.
The project team is excited to invite the public to register and join us for the Betanet Sphinx launch scheduled on 02-Feb at 2 PM UTC.
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