Upgrading Ethereum: 2.0 And The Quest For Scaleability

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Developers have long wanted Ethereum to serve as a decentralized world computer. To achieve this goal the network must maintain its current decentralized architecture while scaling by multiple orders of magnitude. The blockchain can currently handle just 15 transactions per second (tps). In order to serve the global population and the coming deluge of robots and autonomous devices, developers have a lot of work on their hands.

There have been numerous proposals in recent years. Many of these have found their way into Ethereum’s fourth and final stage of development, called Serenity which it is transitioning into this year. Such is the scope and novelty of this upgrade though that it has been colloquially referred to as Ethereum 2.0. In fact, this description in many ways is more appropriate as it represents an entirely new blockchain called the Beacon chain as well as a different consensus method.

We are going to take a look at the main parts of this groundbreaking upgrade.

Proof of Stake

Vitalik Buterin and other Ethereum developers have been talking about transitioning to Proof of Stake (PoS) since 2014. The motivation behind this change is to reduce the blockchain’s electricity usage and minimize the risk of node centralization and consensus attacks like 51% network attacks.

Ethereum is using a PoS system called Casper for the new Beacon chain. At first, the current Ethereum Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain and the new Beacon chain will operate concurrently. Developers expect to have the Beacon chain running towards the end of 2019. However, at first, it will simply involve validation, without any storing or processing of information.

During this phase, the blockchain will use Casper the Friendly Finality Gadget (FFG) to achieve and maintain finality. Finality simply refers to the recognition that once a block is added to the blockchain it cannot be reversed. The protocol randomly chooses pools of block proposers and committees from the qualified validators for finding and maintaining consensus.

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