Cryptoverse forums went abuzz on the morning of February 23rd as some Twitter users saw Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin tweet that sharding — perhaps Ethereum’s most promising scaling solution — might soon have its testnet ready. The tweet was promptly deleted.
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Buterin: “Testnet Soon”
With the specter of congestion on the Ethereum network growing, any updates or comments pertaining to sharding will unsurprisingly cause a stir.
That’s precisely what’s happened as Buterin just tweeted, and thereafter deleted, a new remark on a sharding testnet potentially being publicly available soon.
In a threaded conversation about Twitter competitor leeroy.io, Buterin wrote:
“I hope they can participate in the sharding testnet soon when it’s ready; they’re one of the first apps that could easily benefit from it :)”
Buterin wasted little time in deleting the comment, though, for reasons not immediately clear. Presumably he retracted the statement to tamp down on any unrealistic hype around sharding, which is likely still a ways off.
Conversely, it took little time for Ethereum forums like r/ethtrader to burst with users acknowledging they’d seen the tweet with their own eyes.
What Is Sharding?
More have heard of sharding than know what it is. It’s important to note here that sharding is not some monolithic system, but rather a series of ideas that are being experimented with.
As the GitHub Sharding FAQ explains, though, there is a general gist of what sharding could look like when completed:
“For example, a sharding scheme on Ethereum might put all addresses starting with 0x00 into one shard, all addresses starting with 0x01 into another shard, etc. In the simplest form of sharding, each shard also has its own transaction history, and the effect of transactions in some shard k are limited to the state of shard k.
One simple example would be a multi-asset blockchain, where there are K shards and each shard stores the balances and processes the transactions associated with one particular asset. In more advanced forms of sharding, some form of cross-shard communication capability, where transactions on one shard can trigger events on other shards, is also included.”
Essentially, then, sharding has the potential to exponentially increase transaction throughput on the Ethereum blockchain in an on-chain manner.
Sharding Needs Raiden, By the Looks of It
Well, sharding and Raiden are poised to have a mutualistic relationship, the aforementioned Sharding FAQ posits:
“Channel-based strategies (lightning network, Raiden, etc) can scale transaction capacity by a constant factor but cannot scale state storage, and also come with their own unique sets of tradeoffs and limitations particularly involving denial-of-service attacks; on-chain scaling via sharding (plus other techniques) and off-chain scaling via channels are arguably both necessary and complementary.”
So Ethereum’s scaling race isn’t shaping up to be a zero-sum game by any stretch of the imagination. But, as the recent CryptoKitties congestion potently showed, progress can’t come fast enough for those who don’t want to see Ethereum eventually beat out by a faster, newer project.
Anything’s possible in crypto.
What’s your take? Why do you think Buterin deleted the alleged comment? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Kapital.kz, Imgur, Reddit