According to a recent report by crypto.com, the total number of global cryptocurrency owners may grow by 3x in 2022. We are really looking at billion+ users sooner rather than later. When we look at existing networks and their capabilities though, we can see they are all falling agonizingly short for mass adoption. The current layer one (L1) blockchains are simply not designed to serve at such a large scale yet. That said, there have been no dearth of L1 blockchains attempting to scale up the network in the recent past. Even those who are successful at it today, end up compromising decentralization and/or the security tenets of open source technology. Other measures like increasing the block sizes or having layer two (L2) solutions come with their own problems.
We are also realizing that vertical scaling with more hardware resources is not sufficient to take the underlying technologies towards mass adoption. It is safe to say that permissionless blockchain have rendered Moore’s law more or less unpredictable in the world of distributed computing networks. This lays the ground for our next question. How can sharding be the panacea to a challenging “scalability trilemma” problem?
Sharding by Shardeum: Solving Scalability Trilemma
Sharding means partitioning to distribute a network’s computational and storage workload. That way each node operator can relieve themselves from shouldering the total transactional load on the network. Further, sharding breaks the job of validating and confirming transactions into small, manageable bits. Each node maintains information related to transactions it handles. Transactions are then processed within the partition or shard it is on by reaching consensus.
Shardeum is not the first blockchain to attempt Sharding. One of the prominent examples of sharded chains is Polkadot, which acts as a layer zero (L0) solution. Here, multiple heterogeneous shards (parachains) attach themselves to the Polkadot base layer and execute various transactions. Polkadot claims to provide security and communication across parachains. Another example is Zilliqa, which claims to be the world’s first L1 blockchain to use the sharding method. This then raises the question: what makes Shardeum ground-breaking? One of the key answers, in my opinion, lies in its consensus by a transaction.
Sharded blockchains like Zilliqa group transactions into blocks and seek consensus at the block level. They can theoretically achieve higher efficiency with this, but it is not the most efficient way to deploy sharding. Since consensus and commitment takes place at a block level, the finality of transactions takes more time and resources. On the other hand, Shardeum achieves consensus on each transaction. A transaction in this case does not have to wait till a consensus is reached across multiple shards for processing. This allows the network to introduce the below mentioned features which when combined together makes Shardeum truly scalable, albeit, in a linear and horizontal way.
Dynamic Sharding : The network won’t have a static group of nodes as fixed shards. Nodes in the Shardeum network are free to move around and accommodate more data as dynamic shards.
Linear Scaling : Every node added to the network will increase the transaction throughput right away. It doesn’t have to wait for a fixed number of nodes to be added to the network for a new shard to be created.
Autoscaling : Shardeum is designed to auto-scale. The network maintains consensus on how many nodes it needs based on the traffic. It can allow more nodes to be added to the network based on bandwidth required and shrink down during trough periods. This adds to the high level of decentralization that is embedded in the network already.
Shardeum: A Unique Blockchain for the Future
Shardeum pioneers a new approach with sharding. With dynamic state sharding on top of its EVM compatibility, Shardeum will be truly capable of handling multitude of DApps and layer 2 solutions across industries and consumers with optimum performance. It will indeed maneuver in unchartered territories in the blockchain space. Otherwise it will not be aiming for 1 million TPS with high decentralization and aBFT grade security. However that only adds to the excitement to finally see another blockchain that is equal to or better than Ethereum and its smart contracts at some point in the near future. So let’s stay tuned 🙂
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Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). They do not necessarily purport to reflect the opinions or views of Shardeum foundation.
The contributing author is a Web 3 and blockchain enthusiast based out of Gurgaon, India. He provides strategic research-based inputs, analysis, and content support for entities in this space. You can follow and contact him on Twitter