Researchers working on sharding phase 1 and 2 of ethereum 2.0 have stated the execution environment for a shard is to be demoed at Devcon in just a few days.
Will Villanueva, a coder from ConsenSys’ Quilt team which is working on the later stages of ethereum 2.0, stated:
“We were able to plug in the Eth 2, phase 2 Wasm execution engine into the shard chain/client we built in lighthouse! We have a simple, simulated Eth 2 phase 1/2 and we’re in the early stages of running an Execution Environment on it!
We’ll be showcasing it at Devcon… lots of cleanup to do, but there will be a lot of cool progress to show soon!”
The now famous Interop Meeting included “some of the people working on Ethereum 2.0 Phase 2 (the execution layer): the Quilt team from ConsenSys and the Ethereum Foundation Ewasm team. It was a great opportunity to sync up (no pun intended) with each other’s work,” according to ConsenSys.
Ewasm is a considerable upgrade of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). This is kind of what makes everything possible as far as end users are concerned in regards to smart contracts and much else.
Once ewasm goes out, then the two years long upgrade would have finished with that being the point full on sharding launches.
Until then there are a few stages. The coordinating brand new Proof of Stake (PoS) Beacon Chain, which perhaps a bit too simply can just be called the base layer or the foundation, is now nearing a multi-client testnet launch perhaps within weeks.
Simple sharding is then to follow in phase one, with that potentially being linked to the eth1 Proof of Work (PoW) chain later in 2020.
The finale is ewasm in phase 2 when the completed upgrade finally goes live for all to see and use with full functionalities and vastly more capacity.
So far attention has mainly focused on phase 0, the beacon chain, but that’s now sort of finished with just the launching left after refinements and quite a bit of testing.
Thus, since perhaps May following the launch of the first single client testnets, some have focused on the other phases too.
Villanueva said at the time “contrary to popular belief, phases 0 to 2 do not need to be worked on in complete sequence. Large portions of each phase can be worked on in parallel.”
That’s presumably exactly what he has been doing for now months, with the results of their work in phase 1 and 2 to be showcased in days.
This is still very early stages. It’s a single shard, as far as we understand, but from the sound of it that shard is kind of complete, although in a stimulation running on Lighthouse, which is an eth 2.0 client similar to Geth for eth1.
This shard would then kind of have to be cloned in some 1024 shards, with those shards then connected and coordinated through the beacon and cross shard transactions.
The system is somewhat complex, but we suspect the way they talk and connect is by you running a “node” of shard A and B (or C, D, whatever) if those are the shards you’re interested in.
That’s at least one interop method presented by ConsenSys in May this year, with this selective node running then creating a collective decentralized, secure, permissionless and a trustless system which can run on Raspberry Pi (hence our featured image courtesy of a Lighthouse dev).
What the exact design will be however remains to be seen with much still in flux where sharding is concerned. So perhaps it’s a bit too early to conceptualize it at a high level view, but Vitalik Buterin, the ethereum co-founder, says there are no fundamental research problems left to solve, it’s now more the nitty gritty and the implementation.
The estimated timeline is early 2021 for the full launch. Before that, they may well be able to make it for the January 2020 beacon launch. Around summer storage sharding may then go out. Next autumn for PoW finality, if they can figure it out, which will reduce new issuance by 2/3. Then full sharding. And then at some point the packaging of the PoW chain into a shard of its own.
So there’s plenty to keep ethereans busy at a technical level. At a social level, three million eth have to be transferred to the Beacon chain starting at Devcon with the launch of the deposit contract.
Then gradually people have to move from the PoW chain to the PoS one, including smart contracts and dapp projects.
There’s no pressure on them to do it quickly, the PoW chain is to keep running for quite some time, but there might be social dynamics at play perhaps even as soon as once just storage sharding launches, and quite likely once full sharding does.
That’s both from a somewhat technical perspective in as far as projects might rush to sort of put their flag on a shard, but also more abstractly in as far as ethereans might think it a bit more cool if it’s running on the PoS chain.
That’s presuming of course that everything goes fine and there’s a general judgment that all is good, but arguably if the many capable eth teams can’t crack it, it’s difficult to see who can.
Especially as considerable resources are being dedicated to this endeavor, with it all now kind of starting to feel a bit real.