Blockchain and Technological Innovation (1): Can the Sharding scheme really become the “Main Theme” of Blockchain Scalability?

Yee Foundation
5 min readOct 26, 2019

“DAGs” may not expect that the wind direction of the chain circle will change, and the main role of the scalability market will become a sharding in a flash. The sharding project led by Ethereum 2.0 pushed the sharding technology to the climax. There are endless reports, salons and lectures, but behind the upsurge, can the sharding scheme really be called the theme of “scalability”?

Shard scalability: technological innovation driven by demand.

The scheme of shard scalability by segments gives full play to the influence of demand drives technology. Ethereum put forward the concept of “world computer” and let the masses realize that “the original application can still play like this”.In this case,the masses who are fed up with the advertising, pop-up and even information security torture of all kinds of apps began to focus on “decentralized application” (DAPP), which directly brought the subsequent prosperity of DAPP market.

However, this boom also exposes new problems: the performance bottleneck of blockchain Network — TPS is too low, just like the era of dial-up Internet. At one time, the performance problem became the key to measure the quality of the project. The case of “TPS only” is not rare. With this wave of blockchain scalability, the blockchain scalability track of blockchain officially ushered in the outbreak: Ghost protocol, lightning network, DAG, dpos, sharding technology, BDN distribution network, state channel and other solutions have been published one after another.

There are many technical solutions, but few can be really recognized: for example, ghost protocol improves network efficiency by theoretically “increasing blocks and reducing block time”, but the result is not outstanding. Byzantine fault tolerance mechanism, dpos and other mechanisms change consensus mechanism to improve efficiency, but with security, decentralization and other issues. The application scope of state channel (lightning network, lightning network, etc.) is extremely limited… The sharing technology naturally becomes one of the mainstream options in the expansion market.

Zilliqa project is the first to apply the sharding technology to the blockchain scalability scene, and then the sharding expansion scheme promoted by Ethereum 2.0, ton (telegraph open network), YeeCo and other projects officially enters the highlight time.

The sharding scheme of blockchain scalability is born out of the Internet big data technology, and its core is the idea of “divide and conquer”, which divides large database data and distributes it in specific servers to improve database performance. In a blockchain network, each node needs to perform data transmission-verification-maintenance-storage steps, which is extremely demanding on the bandwidth, CPU, memory, disk, etc. of a single computer node, and only allows each node to process Part of the task is to ensure the efficiency of the blockchain network.

Specifically, in the case of public blockchain with sharding technology as the blockchain scalability scheme,transactions on the network will be split into different shards and categorized into different nodes for processing. Therefore, each node only needs to process a small number of incoming transactions, and a large amount of verification can be done by parallel processing with other nodes on the network.

In the short term, sharding is undoubtedly the biggest winner of the blockchain scalability market at this stage. It will take time to observe whether it can stand still. With the implementation of Ethereum 2.0, YeeCo and other projects, it can prove the true strength of the expansion.

Sharding scheme dismantling: what is the core of project competition?

At present, there are many schemes for sharding blockchain scalability, and there are large differences between the schemes, but the core of many schemes includes network shard, transaction shard and state shard. Among them, network shard is the basis of the scheme, while state shard is the most difficult.

First, to explain the network shard: Generally speaking, the block network node is divided into N shards according to certain rules, and the security of these nodes is ensured, which can prevent network attacks and malicious nodes from being interfered.After forming multiple shards, the shards establish their own consensus and confirm the transaction. It can be said that network shard is the basis of the entire sharding scheme, and other shards are built on this basis.

On the basis of network shard, it is a shard that can handle transaction behavior, that is, transaction shard. Transaction shard divides transactions in the entire network into different categories according to transaction characteristics and node attributes, and divides them into different shards for processing.

But just transaction shard doesn’t solve all the problems.At present, in the underlying public chain, all public nodes are responsible for storage transactions, smart contracts and various states of work. If the nodes are not responsible for hosting their own shard data, but keeping all the data, it is bound to fail to achieve high speed, which leads to a more difficult shard — state shard.

The key to state sharding is to separate the entire storage. According to different node states, different data fragments are stored in different shards, so that each node is only responsible for part of the data, instead of storing the complete blockchain state. Without the guarantee of state partition, the sharding network can achieve the effect of expanding and speeding up, but the effect of speed-up is extremely limited, and in some special cases, it is difficult to ensure stable operation.

At present, most of the schemes have completed network shard and transaction shard, which can meet certain data processing needs. However, the overall progress of state segmentation is slow, which naturally becomes one of the key points to break through the sharding public chain.

In addition to the above three kinds of sharding structures, there is another sharding logic — storage sharding, which mainly aims at the storage problem after the data volume skyrocketed. Due to the limited amount of data in the blockchain network now, it is far from the memory ceiling. As a result, most projects do not regard the storage problem as the main work at present. However, with the real implementation of the public chain, the storage problem is bound to need to be solved. The public chain project represented by yeeco has put forward a full sharding solution, which covers the storage sharding solution.

Sharding technology can be said to be the winner of the expansion and chaos war in the past period of time, but whether it can continue to “win” remains to be discussed. Perhaps the next explosive scheme of the blockchain scalability is on the way to come?

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