The second stage in the progression towards the launch of the ethereum 2.0 genesis block is now getting closer with the two main eth 2.0 clients, Nimbus and Lighthouse, “acknowledging each other” in the libp2p networking stack according to Age Manning of Lighthouse.
This is not quite a multi-client testnet yet, but its launch is getting closer with Bruno Škvorc of Nimbus saying in giving a time estimate: “Nothing I can vouch for, but should be within 3-4 months at most.”
“That [estimate] sounds reasonable,” says Manning. So giving now a clear timeline towards the January 3rd launch of the ETH2.0 genesis block.
“We are definitely getting closer,” Luke Anderson of Lighthouse said earlier this month, adding:
“There is discussion amongst the teams now about interoperatbility and ensuring that the launch of a cross-client testnet later in the year goes smoothly.
The Ethereum 2.0 protocol/specification is becoming quite stable now, and so most clients have a compatible approach to this.
One of the main interop. focuses now is the networking stack, since implementations are at different stages of maturity depending on the language used.”
Single client testnets have been running since the very beginning of April, making it just two months ago. Now they’re cooperating to have multiple different client nodes running the same public blockchain.
The first step was taken on Sunday, with the full launch potentially by September, just ahead of the Devcon deposit contract ceremony.
That should give them four months of running the network in effectively a fully completed state, but in a lab like environment to see what can be broken, what bug can be found, and thus what can be fixed so that the hackers of the world are left with nothing to play when the genesis block launches on January the 3rd 2020.
The genesis block will be the foundation of a multi-year long project that promises to increase scalability in a decentralized way to effectively global level capacity.
It is the biggest upgrade of any public blockchain since their invention a decade ago. Beginning so with Phase 0 on January the 3rd which, in addition to containing within it the blueprint for sharding, also launches Proof of Stake (PoS).
Proof of Stake addresses the energy intensive nature of securing the network through Proof of Work. It does so by getting rid of any hardware requirements save for a laptop or some access to the internet.
Beyond saving the environment, PoS would arguably also be more egalitarian as anyone who has 32 eth, or in staking pools any amount of eth, can participate in securing the network and be rewarded for it.
This would effectively mean running a node pays, so it may increase decentralization which would be very much needed in sharding as nodes are kind of chopped into groups and then “united” again in running the network.
Sharding is in many ways what the blocksize debate was about, even though it was never mentioned during all those years as the “debate” descended into slogans.
It is basically partitioning or parallelization so that if you add more nodes you actually get more capacity by having say 1,000 nodes processing 100,000 transactions and then another 1,000 nodes processing a different set of 100,000 transactions while both these nodes recognize the transactions of each other.
It is not clear whether this idea came from Satoshi Nakamoto himself in the early private communications with the early Bitcoin Core devs or whether it’s just applying well known systems in computer science, say chip designs.
Yet what is clear is that it is a formidable task, but Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s inventor, says all research breakthroughs needed for ethereum 2.0 have been figured out.
Can They Make It?
Considering some delays and changes of plans last year, ethereans have metaphorically put up barricades with slogans that say: prepared for disappointment.
Yet this is a completely different team from eth1. They have met their targets so far and have worked very hard to do so.
Part of that might be because there’s a race of sorts. There’s of course considerable prestige to have the world’s blockchain run on your code. So there are multiple teams racing to be first and to do it best.
The very specific date by Justin Drake of the 3rd of January does also add to the pressure. It’s just too nice a story if the genesis block does launch on that day.
The timeline set does also look reasonable, with all eth 2.0 teams having much to gain if they do meet it. Status’ Nimbus, for example, doesn’t necessary reflect on Status, but obviously it sort of does and so far very favorably. PegaSys is of ConsenSys. While Lighthouse relies on grants as far as we are aware.
There are other teams too, all developing in different languages, with just their representatives amounting to more than 30 during a recent eth2.0 dev call.
Then there’s the eWASM team, which is the smart contracts bit. There’s the new comer, Alexey Akhunov, who also relies on grants as far as we are aware, so working on storage rent while Péter Szilágyi is maintaining Geth and working on pruning. Then there’s the rest of the eth1.0 team.
Making this a very big ecosystem and perhaps the biggest in public blockchains in part because some of the ICO money has clearly gone towards development.
So they may well make it, with public blockchains now in a couple of years to come out of the dial up stage towards the very early versions of broadband with this structural upgrade of ethereum to a new public blockchain.