What will Serenity bring?

Since its inception in 2015, Ethereum has been moving towards its ultimate goal of becoming a decentralized global computer that will one day replace many of the centralized applications we use in our daily lives.
The Ethereum network is one of the largest and most widely used blockchain networks in the world and one of the largest open source projects in the world. Its Goth (go-ethereum) is one of the largest projects on Github. Since its inception in 2015, Ethereum has been moving towards its ultimate goal of becoming a decentralized global computer that will one day replace many of the centralized applications we use in our daily lives. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in the Ethereum community and the network before this goal is achieved. This article will provide an overview of the progress of Ethereum so far, and then discuss the upcoming and much-anticipated major changes in the network, namely Serenity 2.0, which will be the largest and most comprehensive development of the Ethereum community.

Four stages of Ethereum development
When the Ethereum network was launched in 2015, the long-term roadmap for the project was conceived as four phases. Each phase is defined by a set of Ethereum Improvements (EIPs). These are proposals proposed and approved by the Ethereum community. These proposals create guidelines for various Ethereum clients and developers to follow. For example, Ethereum is currently in the third phase of the Constantinople (Constantinople) version, which was created with four EIPs to improve the security, privacy and scalability of the Ethereum network. [1]

The first phase of Ethereum is called Frontier . When it was launched in 2015, this was the first real-time version of the network. Frontier allows users and developers to mine ETHs, build Dapps (decentralized applications) and tools, etc. Ethereum's mining awards (ie, rewards for every miner excavating a new block) are set to 5 ETH.

The second phase of Ethereum development is Homestead . Homestead was released in March 2016, the first product version of the Ethereum network. It has made many improvements to the protocol that provide the foundation for future upgrades and faster transaction speeds.

The third phase of the development of Ethereum is also the current phase, known as Metropolis (Metropolis) . Metropolis is divided into two versions, namely Byzantium (Byzantine) and Constantinople (Constantinople) . The Byzantium version was released in October 2017 and is lighter, faster and safer than the previous version. Some specific upgrades include more predictable Gas prices and easier developer programming. The Byzantium version also allows Ethereum developers to perform effective on-chain verification of zk-SNARKs (a zero-knowledge concise non-interactive proof of knowledge), thereby increasing privacy.

At first glance, zk-SNARKs seem complicated, but the system uses a relatively simple concept, zero-knowledge proof. Zero-knowledge proof means that the prover can believe that a certain assertion is correct without providing any useful information to the verifier [1]. For example, I can prove to my friend that I know the password of my mobile phone and I don't need to tell him the password.

The Byzantium version also adjusts the “drilling difficulty” to make the Ethereum network mining more difficult over time , mainly to make the network transition to the PoS mechanism as expected in the future (discussed below) at this point).

The Constantinople version is intended to further improve the Ethereum network. Although the release date of the Constantinople version was originally set in November 2018, the developers of Ethereum decided to postpone the release date to 2019 [1]. The forklift upgrade was finally released on February 28, 2019 when the network height reached 7,280,000 [2], mainly to reduce the mining of the Ethereum network from 3 ETH to 2 ETH, and to mine the "difficult bomb" ( Difficulty Bomb) was delayed by 12 months.

The fourth phase of Ethereum, also the temporary final stage, is the stage known as Ethereum 2.0 or Serenity . This is by far the most ambitious upgrade and is expected to improve almost all aspects of the Ethereum network. The Ethereum 2.0 program is released in four phases between 2019 and 2021, although this timetable may change. In order to fully understand the importance of Ethereum 2.0, we first need to study the main problems facing the current Ethereum network, namely the problems that Ethereum 2.0 is trying to solve.

Current problems facing the Ethereum network
One of the most important issues facing the current Ethereum network is scalability. The Ethereum network supports hundreds of decentralized applications that process a large number of transactions per second. Adding more nodes does not increase the scalability of the network because each node needs to verify each transaction . As the use of the Ethereum network continues to increase (including creating more Dapps and executing more transactions), this leads to an increase in the time and cost of transactions, which in turn makes the Ethereum network slower and less convenient to use. .

In a recent speed test, the Ethereum network could only process about 20 transactions per second (data from various sources indicate that about 12 to 45 transactions per second were processed in the past year). In contrast, centralized networks such as PayPal and Visa typically complete 193 transactions and 1,667 transactions per second, and Visa has a maximum capacity of nearly 24,000 [4].

In order to realize the large-scale application of the Ethereum network, the expansion of the network on a large scale is the core of Ethereum 2.0 development . After studying several other options, the Ethereum team identified a way called sharding as the best solution for improving Ethereum network scalability. Chain-down solutions such as Plasma chains and state channels may also be used to mitigate the load on the Ethereum main chain and further increase scalability.

Another major issue that Ethereum 2.0 will address is efficiency and environmental sustainability . Like Bitcoin and many other blockchain networks, current Ethereum networks rely on the PoW (Workload Proof) protocol to ensure the security of their networks.

The PoW system involves many miners who connect to the blockchain network through computer hardware . Miners put their hardware into the network to get a return. The algorithm sets a target value for each new block, and the miners compete to make themselves the first person to calculate the target value and add a new block through their own hardware. To do this, they need to run the block header data of the proposed block and a random "nonce value" through a hash function that will return a string of fixed-length hash numbers. If the string does not match the target value, change the nonce value and rerun the hash function.

The miners will re-run the hash function until one of the miners generates a hash that matches the target value. At this point, the new block will be broadcast to all nodes in the network, the new block will be verified and added to the blockchain, and the miner who successfully digs out the valid new block will receive a certain reward as a reward.

One of the main benefits of the PoW system is that verifying whether a new block belongs to the blockchain network is very fast and relatively simple. However, in order to ensure the security of the network and prevent fraud, finding the right hash input for miners requires high computational costs. Since only one miners find the right hash, the calculations that all other miners put in are actually wasted. As a result, the PoW consensus requires a significant amount of computing power and power costs, and is inefficient .

At the time of this writing, each transaction on the Ethereum network consumes approximately 29 Kwh (kWh) of electricity, enough for a 24-hour power supply in an average American home! The electricity consumed by miners throughout the Ethereum network can provide electricity to 652,669 US homes [5]. The annual energy consumption of Ethereum mining is about the same as that of Bolivar. This is obviously a big problem. The large energy consumption required by Ethereum's PoW agreement reduces the profitability of mining and has a serious negative impact on the long-term sustainability of the environment and systems .

The PoW protocol is very important because they support the blockchain networks that were created earlier, but these blockchain networks are very inefficient and vulnerable to mining monopolies because they give more computing resources. Participants have an unfair advantage. Rich and powerful individuals and organizations can afford more, faster, and more powerful computer hardware, giving them a greater chance of successfully solving every encryption challenge and getting rewards . For example, about 65% of bitcoin mining is done by five mining groups, and in theory they can jointly control more than 50% of the computing market. Bitcoin miners use expensive ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) mining machines, which led to the industrialization and partial concentration of bitcoin mining .

Since Ethereum mining is usually carried out using a GPU (graphics processor) equipped with an ordinary home computer, the risk of centralized mining in Ethereum is not as high as that of Bitcoin. However, ASIC recently released an agreement for Ethereum, and because of the PoW protocol that ETH mining currently relies on, there is still a risk of monopoly and concentration in Ethereum mining. This has caused Bitcoin, Ethereum and other blockchain networks not to be decentralized as originally envisaged, jeopardizing the independence and utility of these blockchain networks .

Ethereum 2.0 aims to transition the network from the PoW protocol to a PoS protocol called Casper, which addresses the efficiency and sustainability of the Ethereum network. This shift will become more and more important as the Byzantine upgrade in 2017 introduces a mining difficulty bomb in the current Ethereum network, which will make it difficult to mine in Ethereum, knowing that there is no Mine can be dug [6]. This strategy was introduced to bring the Ethereum network from PoW to PoS, and why this update is so important to the Ethereum community .

The last major issue that Ethereum 2.0 will address is speed and availability . This is related to the scalability problem that sharding will solve, but it is not exactly the same. The introduction of fragmentation can eliminate the biggest bottleneck of transaction speed and throughput – scalability, but the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) itself also affects the speed and availability of the network .

EVM is essentially the underlying structure of Ethereum, which executes code and makes the network run correctly . The EVM is responsible for the internal state of the Ethereum network and all its calculations; the EVM also ensures the accuracy of the following information: account information (such as account balance), current gas price, address and block information. In addition, the EVM must track the following components: block information, storage status, account status, and runtime environment information [7]. At the same time, EVM also handles all Ethereum smart contracts written in Solidity/Vyper and compiled into unique EVM bytecodes, which are then executed by each node in the current Ethereum network. [4]

Because EVM is responsible for many important aspects of the Ethereum network, the speed at which the EVM performs its tasks will have a significant impact on the overall speed and availability of the network itself . [4] The solution for Ethereum 2.0 is to use the new Ethereum virtual machine eWASM (ie Ethereum wasm). We know that Wasm is an open standard instruction set for the W3C community team and is currently being developed by engineers from Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple. In addition to increasing speed and throughput, eWASM will increase the security and usability of the Ethereum network with additional benefits. I will post an article in the next few weeks to explore the details of eWASM, so stay tuned!

Other goals of Ethereum 2.0
We now know that Ethereum 2.0 is designed to solve the main problems facing Ethereum. However, innovation does not stop there. Serenity, which is under construction, will also achieve several more general design goals.

Since the introduction of Casper and sharding will result in many new and complex systems, one of the main design goals of Ethereum 2.0 is to minimize the complexity of the network, even if it leads to some loss of efficiency .

Another major design goal is to use cryptography and design techniques to allow a large number of certifiers to participate , regardless of the number of certifiers in the network or the number of certifiers participating in each transaction.

The third design goal is to create a system that runs a standard laptop and processes and verifies individual slices .

The latter two goals are to ensure the security and decentralization of the Ethereum network. Why do you say that?

A pure Layer 1 extension can be costly because the fragmentation of the blockchain makes it impossible to verify the transaction globally (that is, all miners in the network (except malicious attackers) are committed to All transactions are confirmed, all miners' computing power guarantees the safety of the entire chain, and sharding means that transactions in one piece chain are only verified by a part of the certifiers in the entire network (because the verification in the entire network) The person will be assigned to each piece of the chain to be responsible for transaction verification), so that the security of a single piece chain is lower than that of the entire chain; the current bitcoin and Ethereum can make a global transaction. Verification ensures the security of the entire network.

The key question is: How do we get scalability without sacrificing decentralization and security? Many of Ethereum's competitive blockchain platforms (such as EOS) have chosen a centralized approach to address this issue. Ethereum chose a different way, dividing the state of the network into 1024 parallel-running fragment chains, each of which is unified by a root called a beacon chain. Chain coordination .

The beacon chain runs a full Casper PoS mechanism, and there is no proxy or centralized voting rights like EOS in the whole system. In this way, each node only needs to be responsible for processing a portion of all transactions in the entire network, and many blocks can process transactions in parallel, which linearly increases the throughput of the entire network .

The Ethereum 2.0 specification attempts to answer the following questions:

If there is no global verification of the transaction, what impact will the security of the network have? How should the selected participants be selected to prevent the emergence of a verification monopoly? How should incentives be designed to maximize data availability and enthusiasm for participation?

After years of research, exploration, and understanding of the trade-offs that need to be made, Ethereum explored the choice of PoS as its consensus algorithm. For the reasons discussed in the text, the verifier is guaranteed to be rewarded, while the verification entity (individual or business) is treated equally in the Casper PoS agreement and is equal in participating in the Certifier Board and receiving rewards/penalties. Probability .

The global verification of the transaction turns into indirect verification: each transaction in each segment chain will be first verified by the certifier in the segment, and the certifier of the segment will submit the checkpoints In the beacon chain, the beacon chain plays the role of “coordinator” in each fragment chain in Ethereum 2.0 .

In addition to addressing specific issues and broader concerns, Serenity has two long-term design goals that are tailored to potential problems in the future. The first goal is to design a network that will remain operational when most or a large number of nodes are offline at the same time . During the Devcon 4 conference in 2018, Ethereum 2.0 researcher Justin Drake explained how the Ethereum 2.0 team hopes that the Ethereum 2.0 network will survive the “World War III” or face more than 80% of the nodes. At the same time, it survived offline [9]. This goal is also important in other less extreme situations. For example, one or more major disasters related to climate change may destroy most nodes within hours, or major countries like China or the United States may decide to ban Ethereum and other blockchain networks and try to eliminate them in their countries. Node.

Another goal that Ethereum 2.0 expects is to cope with the emergence of quantum computing . Currently, there is a technical competition between the United States, China and other major countries and companies, hoping to become the first country to invent and produce quantum computers. The question now is whether the quantum computer will appear, but when it will appear. Whenever quantum computers appear, their capabilities will be exponential growth of the most advanced traditional computers. This will make most of the existing network security (including the security of encryption technology and blockchain technology) relatively defensive and vulnerable to hackers.

Therefore, for future blockchain networks, it is very important to do everything possible (within the limits of traditional binary computing) to defend against quantum computers. As stated in the Ethereum GitHub library, the ultimate design goal of Ethereum 2.0 is " all components selected, either with quantum computing security or easily replaced with quantum computing security alternatives when feasible . "[8]

What will Serenity bring?
It's all very exciting, but when will Ethereum 2.0 really be used? Unfortunately, the answer is still…we don't know! However, in a speech by Devcon 2018, Vitalik stated that Serenity “is not far away from us” and explained that “Ethereum 2.0 is… a combination of different functions that we have discussed for several years, research For several years, it has been actively built for several years and will eventually become a cohesive whole." [10] On June 30, 2019, Ethereum developer Danny Ryan announced the first phase of Ethereum 2.0 (beacon chain The specification of the phase has been frozen , which marks that this version of the specification will provide implementers with a beacon chain multi-client test network to provide a stable view of ongoing formal verification, fuzzing and audit work. aims.

In the second issue of Eth 2.0 AMA held last week, Ethereum 2.0 researcher Carl Beekhuizen stated that on January 3, 2019, the launch phase 0 (beacon chain) was the target date, not the official release date of the beacon chain, but “ It now seems that everything will be done on time.” For more information, please join Unitimes' previous article: “Eth 2.0 AMA Phase 2 | Vitalik: Ethereum 2.0 has no unresolved research challenges”

We know that Serenity is being developed independently of the current Ethereum main chain and will initially run in parallel with the current Ethereum main chain . In the future, the current Ethereum old chain will be integrated into the new Ethereum 2.0 chain. We also know that Ethereum 2.0 will be launched in four phases. Phase 0 will launch the Beacon Chain PoS network , which does not yet support Smart Contract or Dapp development, but will lay the groundwork for the next few phases.

Phase 1 will introduce a basic slice structure , and network data will be split into individual slices, but the network state will continue to be stored in the current Ethereum old chain. Phase 2 will implement full fragmentation, which will implement state execution and smart contract functionality . At this point, Ethereum 2.0 will have all the key features discussed above. Phase 3 and beyond will include iterations, improvements, and other techniques [10]. For specific information on the various stages of Ethereum 2.0, please refer to the previously published article by Unitimes: "ETH 2.0: The Future of Ethereum"

When these phases are implemented, Ethereum 2.0 is expected to have the following features: become a fully fragmented blockchain, run a PoS consensus mechanism, faster synchronization confirmation time (about 8-16 seconds), and "economic certainty." (economic finality) "time (about 10-20 minutes) [4]. Vitalik sees Serenity as “the world of computers in the true sense” .

Special thanks to Aidan Hyman, Greg Markou, and Cayman Nava for reviewing this article and making a number of valuable suggestions. Thanks to Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Darren Langley, William Suberg, Bisade Asolo, Justin Drake and of course Vitalik Buterin. Thanks also to the editors and content creators of Digicocomist and Cryptofacts.

Reference link:

  1. The Beginner's Guide to Ethereum's Roadmap: https://hackernoon.com/the-beginners-guide-to-ethereum-s-2020-roadmap-2ac5d2dd4881
  2. EtherScan: https://etherscan.io
  3. Eth 2.0 Explained: https://cryptocurrencyfacts.com/ethereum-2-0-explained
  4. Ethereum 2.0: https://medium.com/rocket-pool/ethereum-2-0-76d0c8a76605
  5. Ethereum Energy Consumption Index: https://digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption
  6. Eth 2.0 Explained: https://cryptocurrencyfacts.com/ethereum-2-0-explained
  7. Ethereum Virtual Machine Explained: https://www.mycryptopedia.com/ethereum-virtual-machine-explained
  8. Eth 2.0 Specs: https://github.com/ethereum/eth2.0-specs
  9. Eth 2.0 Randomness Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqL_cMlPjOI
  10. "Devcon Keynote Talk." :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km9BaxRm1wA
  11. "Ethereum 2.0 Launch Really Not So Far Away." :https://cointelegraph.com/news/ethereum-20-launch-really-not-so-far-away-says-vitalik-buterin-in-devcon4-keynote

References and links:

  • Asolo, Bisade. “Ethereum Virtual Machine Explained.” Mycryptopedia. November 1, 2018: https://www.mycryptopedia.com/ethereum-virtual-machine-explained/
  • Buterin, Vitalik. “Keynote Talk.” Filmed November 2018 at Devcon, Prague, Czech Republic. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km9BaxRm1wA
  • Cryptofacts. “Eth 2.0 Explained.” CryptoCurrency Facts. Accessed November 10, 2018: https://cryptocurrencyfacts.com/ethereum-2-0-explained/
  • “Eth 2.0 Specs.” Github. Accessed November 14, 2018: https://github.com/ethereum/eth2.0-specs
  • “Ethereum Energy Consumption Index.” Digiconomist. Accessed February 18, 2019: https://digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption
  • "EtherScan." Homepage. Accessed Jan 5, 2019: https://etherscan.io/
  • Drake, Justin. “Eth 2.0 Randomness Talk.” Filmed November 2018 at Devcon, Prague, Czech Republic. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqL_cMlPjOI
  • Langley, Darren. “Ethereum 2.0.” Medium. August 7, 2018: https://medium.com/rocket-pool/ethereum-2-0-76d0c8a76605
  • Langley, Darren. “Ethereum 2.0 — Who's Building It?” Medium. September 6, 2018: https://medium.com/rocket-pool/ethereum-2-0-whos-building-it-54a735442e
  • Karnjanaprakorn, Michael. “The Beginner's Guide to Ethereum's Roadmap.” Hackernoon. December 7, 2017: https://hackernoon.com/the-beginners-guide-to-ethereum-s-2020-roadmap-2ac5d2dd4881
  • Suberg, William. “Ethereum 2.0 Launch Really Not So Far Away.” Cointelegraph. November 1, 2018: https://cointelegraph.com/news/ethereum-20-launch-really-not-so-far-away-says- Vitalik-buterin-in-devcon4-keynote

Author | Colin Schwarz Compilation | Jhonny

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