Popular Science | Concise Ethereum 2.0 Introduction

Now Ethereum 1.0 is very slow; the entire network can only process 15 transactions per second, and any complex operation through these transactions will bring extremely high costs. In contrast, Visa, a U.S.-based payment service provider, can process thousands of transactions per second.

Why is Ethereum so inefficient? Why is the cost so high?

In a nutshell, decentralization, while creating great value, can also be extremely costly (at least for now). The cost of implementing decentralization is so high because, as with most blockchains today, every node on Ethereum (i.e., a computer connected to the Ethereum network, such as a laptop running Ethereum software) ) Must perform each calculation recorded in the block individually to ensure that all participants comply with the rules. This process consumes energy and computer resources.

There is also time consuming. Ethereum nodes are located all over the world-after all, this is an open network that provides incentives for participants-there are high network communication delays between different nodes and different computing capabilities. The Ethereum network must be able to tolerate relatively long network delays (that is, the block generation time cannot be shortened too short), so that nodes with slower network speeds can stay synchronized with the network and participate in the decentralized voting mechanism.

As far as the Ethereum network under the current architecture is concerned, if it is required to process too much data in a short period of time, consumer-grade hardware such as laptops and personal servers cannot keep up with the network, and only large data centers can serve in this network The use of nodes. This will greatly reduce the degree of decentralization of Ethereum, because data center nodes can easily form a monopoly, and then control the entire network, or review the network. In fact, some blockchain networks (such as EOS) now face such problems.

For the public chain, it is very important to maintain a sufficient level of decentralization. If there is no decentralization, then the use of blockchain is not very meaningful, because a centralized blockchain can easily review people's transactions, and it is much less efficient than a general distributed database. . If you don't have a deep understanding of the blockchain, you may wish to recall with me that before Satoshi Nakamoto opened an innovative decentralized governance model through Bitcoin, it is impossible for any system to achieve trust-free governance-among them Participants have the right to control decisions, but no one has full (or majority) control. Vitalik (the creator of Ethereum) responded to the question of the trade-off between decentralization and performance by making a very famous analogy: anyone can create a high TPS system similar to a "centralized waste disposal site" .

Is it possible to create a blockchain so that each node only needs to process part of it instead of processing all transactions? In this way, each node only needs to process a small part of transactions in the network, thereby reducing communication costs.

That's Ethereum 2.0.

Ethereum 2.0 is a new generation of Ethereum, and we should not even call it Ethereum. Ethereum 2.0 is a completely different project, and it adopts a new idea on the architecture of the blockchain. The goal of Ethereum 2.0 is to improve the scalability, security, and programmability of Ethereum. Unlike Ethereum 1.0 which can only achieve a throughput of 15 TPS, Ethereum 2.0 can process thousands to tens of thousands of transactions (or even more) per second without reducing its degree of decentralization. In fact, Ethereum 2.0 wants to introduce a consensus mechanism with stronger economic security, called Proof of Stake (PoS), instead of the proof of work (PoW) used by Bitcoin and Ethereum 1.0.

In the traditional PoW blockchain (such as Bitcoin), some individuals and institutions will play the role of miners, using expensive hardware to solve mathematical problems, thereby minting new Bitcoins and processing transactions. Miners obtain additional Bitcoins and transaction fees by maintaining network security. In contrast, in (Ethereum 2.0, etc.) PoS blockchains, validators provide security to the network by locking Ethereum, thereby minting new Ethereum and processing transactions. Well, actually, the security provided by the verifier depends on the value of the network itself. If a validator does something evil (for example, voting through a malicious transaction), the Ethereum it locks will be confiscated. The confiscation mechanism motivates the verifier to comply with the rules of the agreement.

A big reason why PoS has high security is that PoW systems are vulnerable to "spawn camping" attacks. If the perpetrators have enough mining hardware to attack the PoW blockchain such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin will be unable to prevent subsequent attacks, because the network will continue to reorganize / fork, and then be attacked by the same mining hardware. Endlessly cycle. In contrast, Ethereum 2.0 is much more resistant to squatting attacks-Ethereum 2.0 can fork and punish the attacker's deposit. This is like destroying the attacker's Bitcoin mine.

In addition, Ethereum 2.0 allows developers to create their own transaction processing methods, that is, execution environments, so that they can use the rules of other blockchains within the Ethereum network. To illustrate the "execution environment" with extremely simplified terms: Ethereum 2.0 allows people to use the transaction rules of Bitcoin, ZCash, Ethereum 1.0, and other desired rule sets. Its scale is larger than that of current Ethereum 1.0 The scale is several orders of magnitude higher, and they are all protected by the same group of validators who paid a deposit. Ethereum 2.0 achieves this through sharding : In Ethereum 2.0, each shard chain has its own dedicated block producer and validator, and these shard chains are closely connected to each other and can communicate with each other, so Formed a large shard chain network. Therefore, Ethereum 2.0 validators do not need to process all transactions in the entire network, they only need to process and verify transactions on a shard chain. Through this innovative technology, people using consumer hardware can also participate in and contribute to the Ethereum 2.0 network.

It should be noted that in Ethereum 2.0, each shard chain has the same security. In order to destroy a shard chain, the entire system must be destroyed. This security model provides higher security than platforms such as Cosmos. Under the model of platforms such as Cosmos, each chain is independent, resulting in fragmentation of the entire network and vulnerability to attacks. Therefore, in order to attack Ethereum 2.0, the attacker must purchase and pledge billions of dollars worth of ether (if the price of ether rises, the dollar value of the pledge will also rise).

The figure below shows the form of a traditional blockchain network-a "chain" consisting of data blocks. It's okay not to know what a block header and transaction list are. The following figure is for illustration only:

The following figure shows the form of Ethereum 2.0. The difference is that there are not only 2 shard chains, but 64 shard chains, all coordinated by the beacon chain. Again, don't consider technical details:

Ethereum 2.0 is built by 9 different engineering teams. These teams are funded by the Ethereum Foundation and are supported by the Ethereum community. These teams are developing clients -the clients are similar to Chrome and Firefox browsers, but they are not used to access websites, but to access and participate in the Ethereum network. Client diversity is a core principle of Ethereum-if one or two clients are compromised or vulnerable, the entire network will not fail. Each client has its own specific use case, but they can fully participate in the network. For example, one client is optimized for smartphones, while the other is built for businesses. The engineering team is developing the client based on a specification created by senior researchers, most of whom are PhDs in computer science and equivalent.

In addition, a lot of research work is conducted in an open source manner on a website called ethresear.ch , and anyone in the world can post their technical ideas, suggestions or criticisms to this website. After several years of iteration, the specification of Ethereum 2.0 has reached its current state-researchers have several times thought that they have created a reasonable design, but then they will find some defects and must redesign part or the entire system Only OK. In the entire blockchain field, the Ethereum 2.0 research team is the most experienced and talented protocol design team, which is not an exaggeration.

The following is a list of teams involved in developing Ethereum 2.0 (in no particular order):

ChainSafe Systems

  • Is a company located in Toronto, Ontario, with more than 30 employees, including 5 developers working on the Ethereum 2.0 client
  • Developers at the Ethereum Developer Gathering in Toronto
  • A client called Lodestar was developed in JavaScript

PegaSys

  • A 50-person team of ConsenSys, the largest company in the Ethereum ecosystem, with members distributed around the world
  • Built a business-friendly Ethereum 1.0 client called Pantheon
  • There is a research team focusing on the Ethereum 2.0 specification
  • Developed a Java client called Artemis, optimized for enterprise use

Harmony

  • Team of 4 in Russia
  • Developing a Java Ethereum client
  • Not much public information yet
  • Possible integration with PegaSys / Artemis

Parity Technologies

  • Berlin-based company with a large remote office team of more than 60 people (not everyone is working on Ethereum 2.0)
  • Received $ 5 million in funding from the Ethereum Foundation to develop an Ethereum 2.0 client called Substrate Shasper
  • Polkadot, a blockchain project that supports interoperability, is also being developed. The project is considered to be a rival to Ethereum.
  • Develops and maintains the second most popular Ethereum 1.0 client, also known as Parity.

Prysmatic Labs

  • A team of 6 people with members scattered across the United States
  • Updates will be proactively posted on the blog , and you can learn and follow the progress of Ethereum 2.0 through its blog
  • A client named Prysm was built, similar to Geth in Ethereum 1.0, to meet the diverse scenarios of mainstream applications

Sigma Prime

  • Team of 4 in Sydney, Australia
  • Gathering cybersecurity experts with a strong academic / software development background
  • Built a client named Lighthouse to adapt to the main use cases

Status

  • An 8-person team with members scattered across Europe
  • Dedicated to creating a light client called Nimbus, that is, capable of operating in "light" environments such as smartphones

Trinity

  • A 4-person team signed with the Ethereum Foundation
  • Built a light client to serve as a prototype for more advanced implementations

Nethermind

  • Team of 7 in London and Poland
  • Build a Windows client on .NET

The release of Ethereum 2.0 is divided into multiple stages, but the most important of these are the first three stages. These stages staggered the launch of various components of Ethereum 2.0, on the one hand because it takes a long time to develop and complete, and on the other hand, because of the gradual approach will reduce the technical risk. For such a multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency network, the idea of ​​"moving fast and breaking the rules" is not applicable. Unlike a centralized technology company that can quickly fix problems, if there are serious client vulnerabilities in the cryptocurrency network, it will cause long-lasting huge damage, because the network participants will manually update to the new client version. In the worst case (for example, an attacker successfully launches a double spend attack), multiple transactions must be rolled back to ensure network security. This will have a huge reputational impact, just like the 2016 hack of The DAO, some Ethereum developers and users forked another chain called Ethereum Classic.

Phase 0 may be delivered by the end of the second quarter or the beginning of the third quarter of 2020. This stage will introduce the beacon chain as the "command and control" center of the entire Ethereum 2.0 network. The beacon chain will organize the validators together and assign them to different shard chains to process transactions; after a period of time, all validators will be "shuffled" and randomly assigned to another shard chain. "Reshuffle" is a key part of Ethereum 2.0 security. Without this setting, a small number of validators may be bribed or interfere with the operation of Ethereum 2.0. The beacon chain will verify the validity of the blocks generated by each shard chain so that ether, tokens, and data can be exchanged between each shard chain. In the tone of the Californians in the 1970s: the beacon chain is a blockchain that can manage other blockchains, maaaaaan. (Translator's Note: This "maaaaaan" should be a protracted "man" to enhance the meaning of the tone. The author wants to do a little humor.)

If the beacon chain is said to be the "command and control" center, then the verifier belongs to the operator. A validator is a participant on the PoS network and is responsible for processing and ordering transactions on that network, and forwarding those transactions to other participants. Validators will receive transaction fees and additional tokens (inflation) in return for this. Validators play the most important role in the cryptocurrency network, and one of the core challenges that Ethereum 2.0 is trying to solve is how to design incentive mechanisms to allow validators to comply with protocols and take actions that are beneficial to the network. The beacon chain will also be responsible for punishing the deposit of the wicked verifier.

Phase 1 of Ethereum 2.0 is expected to be delivered in 2021, and the shard chain will be launched, but the data on the shard chain cannot be processed or structured. The data will exist on the shard chain in its original form (ie, the "data blob"), mainly to ensure good communication between the shard chains and each other and the beacon chain. The shard chain cannot perform any calculations on the data. At first glance, Phase 1 may seem like an optimized testnet with limited functionality, but this statement is not entirely true. New and existing DApps can take advantage of this data store to enhance its scalability. For example, a decentralized Twitter DApp can store data on a shard chain and offload a large amount of computing work to complete it, using Ethereum 1.0 to provide a high level of security. During Phase 1, Ethereum 1.0 will still run normally, and the two chains of Ethereum 1.0 and Ethereum 2.0 will run in parallel.

At the end of December 2019, Vitalik proposed to accelerate the process of transferring Ethereum 1.0 to the beacon chain so that Ethereum can realize the advantages of PoS and accelerate its integration with Ethereum 2.0. Initially, Ethereum 1.0 will become a special shard chain (not an execution environment), but it will eventually become an execution environment in Phase 2. A specific timeline has not yet been proposed, but this process appears to occur in Phase 1.

Phase 2 is expected to be launched in 2021 or 2022, and will realize the true vision of Ethereum 2.0. By then, the shard chain will be able to process transactions, and the Ethereum 2.0 network will be able to build real business applications. In Phase 2, smart contracts will be introduced on the shard chain, and the execution environment for running these smart contracts. As mentioned above, the execution environment allows developers to arbitrarily create rule sets to specify how transactions are handled. This means that protocol developers will be able to create execution environments to simulate the rules of Bitcoin, Zcash, Ethereum 1.0, or calculate blockchain transactions in almost any imaginable method. Just as Ethereum 1.0 implements smart contracts on the blockchain by abstracting Bitcoin, Ethereum 2.0 will redefine the nature of blockchain computing by abstracting Ethereum 1.0.

Regarding some components of Ethereum 2.0, there are still some research questions that have not been finally resolved. For example, how to provide and store data in a decentralized manner (to prevent a small number of data providers from monopolizing the entire network), how cross-shard transactions work, and how to implement environmental governance. However, research on these aspects is still progressing rapidly.

Let's reiterate the three phases of Ethereum 2.0:

Phase 0

  • Estimated delivery by the end of the second quarter / early third quarter of 2020
  • Publish the beacon chain and implement PoS verification on the beacon chain
  • Ethereum 1.0 will continue to operate normally

Phase 1

  • Expected to be delivered in 2021
  • Publish shard chains and allow data to be stored on these shard chains, but transactions are not processed on the shard chains
  • Ethereum 1.0 may continue to operate normally, or it may be integrated into Ethereum 2.0 as a special shard chain

Phase 2

  • Expected delivery in late 2021 / early 2022
  • Allow transactions to be processed on the shard chain
  • After a period of time, Ethereum 1.0 will transition to Ethereum 2.0 as an execution environment.

Ethereum will continue to develop after Phase 2, but the roadmap for future development is unclear. …

From my perspective, the future of Ethereum is bright. No smart contract blockchain has as many researchers, developers, users, and projects as Ethereum, and now is a good time to join Ethereum. Ethereum is about to usher in a very important large-scale upgrade, and if successfully implemented, it will create great value for the world.

Special thanks to Robert Drost from ConsenSys R & D, Terence Tsao, James Fickel, and Carrie Krabes from Prysmatic Labs for their help with this article.

Original link: https://medium.com/@chromaticcapital/eth2-for-dummies-11ff9b11509f Author: Grant Hummer translation & proofreading: Min Min & A sword

This article was translated and republished by the original author with permission from EthFans.