All eyes were on Vitalik Buterin at the recently held Beyond Block Taipei 2017 conference, in Taiwan, where Ethereum co-founder presented his plan for the Ethereum blockchain technology. Vitalik discussed some of the existing problems within Ethereum blockchain and the ways developer community is working towards future scalable solutions. By going deeper into the specifics of each issue, Vitalik provided the audience with a substantial amount of information. The roadmap highlights that in next 3-5 years Ethereum is all set to achieve VISA-level scalability in its operations.
While commenting on several Ethereum replacements, which have come to the market in recent months, Vitalik stated:
“The Ethereum killer is Ethereum, the Ethereum of China is Ethereum, the Ethereum of Taiwan is Ethereum… 2.0.”
Quickly coming to the main point, Vitalik said that the four major problems faced by Ethereum today are privacy, smart contract safety, consensus safety, and scalability.
According to Buterin, he and his team is ready to provide already developed solutions to the first three issues. In order to improve the level of privacy in transactions, zk-SNARKs support has been integrated with the Byzantium hard fork, which Vitalik claims to be a viable solution for long-term continued implementations. Similarly, a high level of reliability can be brought to smart contracts through the Viper technology and a formal verification process. For the purpose of solving consensus safety issues, a Casper project is being developed. The primary goal of this project is to replace proof-of-work mechanism with proof-of-stake one. According to Vitalik this change in the consensus mechanism is essential for the future development of Ethereum.
However, one of the major issues, which the developer community of Ethereum has been working on, is scalability of the network. Buterin said that the main challenge is the simultaneous merger of the three components: scalability, security, and decentralization. He said that combining two of the three components is an easy task, but the major challenge for a long time has been getting all the three components to work together.
Also Buterin explained that in order to achieve the VISA-level scalability, the Ethereum network should be capable of doing thousands of transactions per second. Moreover, he noted that all these transactions should be on-chain only, meaning there is no place for using any supernodes.
The solution as per Buterin lies in using the ‘sharding’ technology wherein the main chart remains intact while the protocol changes can be upgraded. Vitalik stressed:
“The shards will create new address space and will not be affecting existing address space which gives us a unique opportunity to make many important (but backward incompatible!) changes to the protocol.”
He further added that in order to break one of the shards, one needs to break the whole thing.
To make it a bit more simple to understand, Vitalik explained:
”The way I generally describe sharding is… you can think of it as, in a fairly simple version, creating a blockchain where you have, lets say, a hundred different universes and each of these universes is a different account space. So you can have an account in some universe or you can have a contract in some universe and you can send a transaction in some universe and if you send a transaction in some universe it only affects stuff in some universe.”
Some of the updates have already been implemented in the Ethereum network while the general timeline for the roadmap has been set to 3-5 years.
Meanwhile, Ether price has surged by over 50% during the past week, and is currently trading at $481.21 according to CoinMarketCap. As per charts, Ethereum, the second strongest cryptocurrency after bitcoin in terms of market cap, has touched its all-time high of $493.27 and there is a real possibility of it crossing the $500 barrier before the year-end. Reports have also suggested that, just like Bitcoin, an unknown exchange, currently referred to as “Virtuoso”, is working on Ethereum futures contracts, which will probably start sometime in the first or the second quarter next year. This must have been the major reason for the latest rally in Ether price.