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The core of Ethereum 2.0 is to solve the throughput problem. If Rollup can achieve the efficiency of sharding, is Ethereum 2.0 still necessary?
Original title: “LightPaper Phase II: ETH2 is coming but controversy continues. Looking at the necessity of ETH2 from the development history of Ethereum (Part 1)”
Written by: LightPaper
Not long ago, on the Ethereum Blog, an official blog was published, announcing that ETH2 had launched version 1.0 and announced the pledge contract. One stone caused a thousand waves of waves, and the circle of friends was wiped out. Everyone responded, ETH2 is finally coming! So what is ETH2? What is the impact on blockchain practitioners and investors? Does the recent rise in ETH have anything to do with it? This LightPaper, chat with me and Brother Yue.
The following content is compiled and organized, suitable for written reading. If you want to listen to the podcast, you can click the player at the top to listen.
History of Ethereum forks
ETH2, colloquially, we can directly call it “Ethereum 2.0”. It has a professional code name called “Tranquility”. The Ethereum we are using at this stage can be called “Ethereum 1.0”. Since the Ethereum testnet was launched in 15 years to the present, “Ethereum 1.0” has undergone 4 stages of upgrades and 9 forks, almost every time Upgrades are all a fork, so the history of Ethereum is also a fork.
We focus on reviewing 4 important stages of upgrade:
“Olympics”-release of testnet
“Olympics” is the code name of the Ethereum testnet period. In fact, there have been 8 versions before this. “Olympics” is the ninth version used for proof of concept. This version has another code name “Frontier Pre-Release”-“Frontier Pre-Release”.
“Frontier”-Ethereum mainnet launch
On July 20, 2015, the Ethereum genesis block was produced and entered the “frontier” stage. “Frontier” is called “Frontier” in English, which also means “frontier”. As the name implies, at this stage, the participants and developers of the Ethereum network are pioneers and continue to expand their territory. In order to perform stress testing, the network is full of meaningless data at this time.
It is worth mentioning that the Ethereum network at this time introduced an on-chain contract protection mechanism-“canary”. This is a relatively centralized protection method used to prevent incorrect operations and transactions in the network in a timely manner. The reason why it is called “canary” is that in the 14-15th century in Europe, due to the reduction of wood, people began to use coal as fuel. It is not safe to mine “black gold”. The underground is full of gas, so every time miners Before going down the well, the “canary” is used to test the poison. Although this method is cruel, it is quite effective. So when we look back at the history of Ethereum, we have to lament the cleverness of naming the contract protection mechanism “canary”.
A model of a canary cage in the Coal Mine Museum in Colorado, USA.
The first hard fork-codename “Home”
On March 14, 2016, Ethereum ushered in its first hard fork, codenamed “Homeland”. Why is the emphasis on for the first time? Because it didn’t take long for Ethereum to usher in the second “unexpected” hard fork-The DAO hard fork.
Here is what is meant by “forking” in a simple and popular way. Imagine that the current Ethereum network is like a straight road, and everyone walks forward while paving the road. At first there was no problem. Later, a person was smarter and found that the road could not reach the end, so he called on everyone to open a fork road and follow the fork road to pave the road to reach the destination. Then there are roughly three situations:
- If everyone agrees with his approach, then everyone will follow this “fork” road, and the fork will succeed.
- Situation 2: If some people agree with what he did, then this group of people will choose the “fork” road, while others will go the “original road” and the fork will succeed.
- Situation 3: If he is the only one who takes the sidetrack and the others insist on going the same way, then because he is alone (not enough computing power), the fork fails.
(The above analogy can’t fully explain the complexity of bifurcation, the focus is on feeling)
So “homeland” is like case a, and TheDAO is case b. In addition, in the “homeland” phase, Ethereum removed the “canary” contract.
The last dance before “Tranquility”-“Metropolis”
The “Metropolis” stage was completed in two parts, codenamed “Byzantium” and “Constantinople” (do you feel the strong medieval style). As the last stage before “Tranquility”, many processing methods in “Metropolis” are paving the way for ETH2, such as activating the “Difficulty Bomb”.
What is a “difficulty bomb”, simply understand it, it makes the PoW miner’s fee more difficult to mine until no new block can be dug. So this is the only way for ETH2 to switch from PoW to PoS. However, due to various reasons, the “difficulty bomb” has been repeatedly postponed, and the controversy between PoW and PoS is endless.
(In December 2019, Ethereum hard forks again, code-named “Istanbul”, which reduces gas consumption. It may also pave the way for Layer 2 and Rollup. There is no detailed study here, and I will not repeat it.)
ETH2 and the current “trend” of Ethereum
Compared with the current Ethereum, ETH2 has two most significant changes. One is the change of the consensus algorithm, that is, PoW is changed to PoS and the other is sharding.
PoW mentioned this term before. The simple understanding is that the mining machine is mining (although it is not accurate but easy to understand), using the power consumption cost of the mining machine, the cost of the mining machine, and the maintenance cost as the proof of the workload. Therefore, if you do evil in the network, although there is no punishment, you will not get rewards for consuming these costs, which is also a loss to the miners. PoS is staking token mining. If you do evil in the network, the staking token will be punished (Slash). We will not talk about which consensus is good today. We will focus on introduction. For the topic of PoS and PoW, LightPaper will also do a special topic in the future.
“Sharding” is a mechanism to improve the scalability of Ethereum. The so-called scalability means that, for example, Ethereum currently has a block of 15-20 seconds, and a block is 375 transactions, then the average is 25 transactions per second. In other words, the throughput of the Ethereum network is 25 or 25 TPS. But this business processing capability is far from enough. To improve it, it is to improve scalability. For example, after sharding and Layer2, it is increased by 1,000 times, which is 2.5w transactions per second, which is higher than VISA. Therefore, I firmly believe that when the throughput of Ethereum reaches a certain level, there will be a qualitative change in blockchain technology that will carry more applications (DeFi, DEX, etc.).
After talking about the “trend”, let’s talk about the roadmap of ETH2:
(Note: The following is the plan before 11.19 Reddit AMA. Regarding the content of the AMA, we will explain it to you in the second half of the article)
ETH2 has a lot of reform content, so it is released in multiple stages. Starting from this year’s “Phase 0”, each stage will improve the functions and performance of Ethereum in different ways:
Phase 0 (Phase0): Start the PoS implementation by starting the beacon chain. However, the following conditions must be met to start the first (genesis) block: 1. At least 524,288 ETH has been mortgaged on the network. 2. At least 16,384 verifiers signed. (Actually, each verifier pledges 32 ETH)
ETH2’s PoS mechanism allows users to pledge 32 Ethereum to become validators. This pledge is one-way. Users pledge ETH1 tokens to ETH2, and they cannot return it. They can only be unlocked after about 1~2 years. (Time is uncertain), and this coin is a token of ETH2 and cannot be circulated in the current Ethereum network. But this pledge is profitable. However, I remind users not to staking indiscriminately, such as directly injecting money into the pledge contract, otherwise it will cause permanent losses.
Phase 1 (Phase1): This is the second phase of 2.0, ETH2 will introduce the shard chain to build shards and generate blocks. (Old proposal)
Phase 1.5 (Phase1.5): Ethereum’s PoW chain will serve as one of the shards (the merger of ETH1 and ETH2). At this time, the historical data of the original PoW chain still exists, but it will exist like other shards, but The PoW consensus mechanism is no longer running.
Phase 2 (Phase 2): I’m not sure now. Probably the virtual machine of eWASM Ethereum 2.0 was started and smart contracts were introduced into the system. Can run smart contracts and interact with smart contracts, and achieve cross-shard communication.
Here is a digression. On November 16, Vitalik said in the domestic WeChat community, “With Rollup, Phase 1 has been expanded, so Rollup can be understood as computing sharding.” One stone has caused a thousand waves. I see many people discussing in the community. Some people say that ETH2 = ETH1 + Rollup. Some people say that the difference between ETH2 and ETH1 is that it becomes a PoS mechanism. In fact, in my opinion, what consensus mechanism is adopted is the second. The current problem of blockchain or Ethereum is throughput expansion. If Rollup can achieve the efficiency of sharding, then I think PoW + Rollup at this stage is quite good . Of course Vitalik has proposed that Ethereum will eventually switch to PoS since 2014. We have also seen that the development of Ethereum is firmly following the original roadmap plan. I myself still have great expectations for ETH2!