Ethereum 2.0, don’t let us wait too long

According to the Ethereum 2.0 roadmap, at the end of the second quarter of this year, Phase 0 of Ethereum 2.0 will be launched. As the “second leader” of the blockchain industry, Ethereum’s upgrade will undoubtedly profoundly affect the development pace of the entire blockchain industry. Especially in terms of technology, Ethereum 2.0 has undergone a large number of upgrades and transformations compared to 1.0, and has been optimized in terms of decentralization, scalability, and efficiency.

So what are the technical upgrades of Ethereum 2.0? What impact will it have on the industry? Liandede App conducted an exclusive interview with Ethereum community developer Zheka and OKEx senior analyst William.

ETH2.0 is a plan to upgrade Ethereum. Compared with Ethereum, Ethereum 2.0 is more like a brand-new public chain because of a lot of changes. This upgrade will be a long-term process, divided into several stages. Currently only “Phase 0” has clear specifications and is regularly updated.

The stages that can be clarified include the ongoing:

Phase 0, the goal is to launch Beaco n Chain;

In stage 1, the goal is to introduce a shard (Shard Chains) structure;

In Phase 2, the goal is to enable the new virtual machine eWASM (Ethereum-flavored Web Assembly). The objectives of the subsequent phases may also include light client state protocol, main chain security coupling, and super quadratic or exponential sharding.

In general, the changes made in the first three stages of Ethereum 2.0 can be summarized into three points: consensus mechanism, sharding structure and virtual machine, and the core of these changes are trying to solve the inefficiency of Ethereum, The problems of serious centralization of mining pools and high transaction costs.


The core idea of ​​Ethereum 2.0: Sharding

Ethereum community developer Zheka told Liande App that decentralization will create huge value while also bringing extremely high costs. The cost of achieving decentralization is so high because, like most blockchains today, each node on Ethereum must perform each calculation recorded in the block to ensure that all participants are Follow the rules.

This process consumes energy and computer resources. In terms of Ethernet network Square under the current framework, such as if you want to deal with it in a very short period of time too much data, laptops and other consumer-level personal server hardware will not be able to keep pace with the network, only to large data centers in this network Act as a node. This will greatly reduce the degree of decentralization of Ethereum, because data center nodes can easily form a monopoly, which in turn controls the entire network.

Zheka believes that if “decentralization” is lost, the value of blockchain technology will be lost, and traditional centralized methods are enough to solve most problems.

The optimization carried out by Ethereum 2.0 is generally trying to make each node only need to process part of the transaction. In this way, each node only needs to process a small part of the transaction in the network, thereby reducing the communication cost.

Specifically, Ethereum 2.0 has 64 shard chains, which are coordinated by the beacon chain. Each shard chain has its own exclusive block producer and verifier, and these shard chains are closely connected with each other and can communicate with each other, thus forming a large shard chain network.

Therefore, the verifier of Ethereum 2.0 does not need to process all transactions in the entire network, but only processes and verifies transactions on a certain shard chain.

Sharing is actually a traditional database technology that divides a large database into smaller, faster, and more manageable parts. In the blockchain network, sharding is to transform each block in the network into a sub-blockchain (100), which can accommodate transaction data and ultimately form a block on the main chain .

In the words of Vitalik Buterin, “Each shard is like an independent galaxy: it has its own account space, transactions need to specify to which shard they should be published, and communication between shards is limited. ”

OKEx senior analyst William said that in traditional sharding (represented by Cosmos), each chain is independent of each other, resulting in the entire network being sharded and vulnerable to attacks. In Ethereum 2.0, each shard chain has the same security. To destroy a shard chain, the entire system must be destroyed. And this is achieved through the beacon chain.

Therefore, the beacon chain is also known as the basis of the entire Ethereum 2.0, which is why the launch of the beacon chain will be called stage 0.

In the second step of the Ethereum upgrade, the main work is to build 64 shard chains around the beacon chain. The beacon chain randomly selects shard validators for each shard in each time period and is only responsible for reaching consensus on the content of each block. It does not matter what kind of information is in the sharded block, as long as all committee members can reach consensus on the shard and update the beacon chain regularly .


More efficient virtual machine

And in the third stage, that is, stage 2, the main work will start to combine all functions. In the second stage, the sharding will be completed. The sharding chain will transition from a simple data container to a structured chain state, and Reintroducing smart contracts.

Each shard will manage virtual machines based on eWASM (Ethereum flavored WebAssembly), and various development tools will gradually improve. In other words , Ethereum 2.0 after the third stage really has use value.

The core of this step is to replace the virtual machine. It is a virtual environment that allows smart contracts to interact with each other, allowing smart contracts to have more powerful functions without having to become too complicated. In simple terms, the main reason for replacing virtual machines is to improve performance and reduce the difficulty of developing smart contracts, thereby enriching the Ethereum ecosystem.

OKEx Senior Analyst William told the chain app that the current Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is actually similar to Jave’s virtual machine: when deploying smart contracts, the smart contract code is first compiled into machine-readable code, then, EVM This bytecode code is processed through a LIFO stack arrangement. Ethereum Web Assembly (Ewasm) is a deterministic smart contract execution engine built on the modern standard WebAssembly virtual machine.

From the perspective of Ethereum’s future development plan, Ewasm is the main candidate to replace EVM and is part of the Ethereum 2.0 roadmap. On the agenda of the Crosslink 2019 Taiwan conference last year, Hung-Ying-Ying has clearly pointed out the difference between the two (Second State where Hung-Ying-Ying is located is responsible for the development of Ethereum’s Solidl to Ewasm compiler Soll):

Features of EVM
1) 256-bit and stacked-based virtual machine

2) Many high-level instructions, such as: SSTORE, SLOAD, SHA3, EC, Call / Create contract

3) There is a difference from the physical system architecture (usually 32/64 bit), and 256 bit needs to be completed by simulation

4) Less programming languages ​​(Vyper, Solidity,…)

Features of EWASM

1) Stacked-based virtual machine: It has independent area space (scratchpad or memory), and accesses the first 3 objects in the stack (16 EVM accesses)

2) Support 32/64 bit operation

3) No high-level instructions

4) RISC instruction set can also correspond to CPU ISA

5) Larger community: mainstream browsers support it, and there are more programming languages ​​(C ++, Rust, GO,…)

He said that the development EWASM, mainly to improve the performance of Ethernet Square, because EVM operation code into a hard piece of instruction process too difficult; in addition, one of the design goals EWASM project is also supported across multiple languages and tools for intelligent contracts Development, that is, including LLVM, C, C ++, Rust, JavaScript into the development cycle. Therefore, it is a great advantage for developers to choose EWASM.


PoS-based consensus mechanism

In the process of these three steps, in order to cooperate with the structural change, Ethereum will transform the consensus mechanism from POW to PoS, specifically the Casper consensus mechanism that is specially customized.

The first thing to emphasize is that PoS is a type of consensus algorithm, not a consensus algorithm. It refers to a type of consensus algorithm that uses stake as a condition for creating blocks . In the Chinese community, when people talk about the POS mechanism, they often take the PoS mechanism of Peercoin (the first public chain project using the PoS mechanism) as the definition of PoS, even most Chinese books. In fact, there are many kinds of PoS mechanisms, and the PoS of Bitcoin is just one of them. The Casper algorithm is also one of the PoS algorithms.

At present, there are two main types of traditional PoS algorithms: one is the chain-based PoS algorithm represented by Bitcoin and Blockcoin. This type of algorithm mimics the mechanism of PoW, and uses random numbers to determine block producers to simulate mining. Mine; another type is PoS based on Byzantine miscalculation (BFT) represented by Cosmos.

Casper actually borrowed from the BFT algorithm, but also introduced new features:

(1) The first is the accountability system, that is, the malicious verifier punishes and confiscates all the mortgage of the verifier, which can solve the problem of nothing at stake that plagues PoS;

(2) Dynamic verifier, Casper introduces a security mechanism to allow the verifier to change dynamically over time;

(3) Defense, in order to defend against long-range attacks and offline attacks by one-third of the validators, Casper introduced a weakly balanced synchronization assumption;

(4) Modular overlay. Since Ethereum’s plan is to first convert from PoW to PoW / PoS hybrid mechanism, and finally transition to PoS, Casper is designed as an overlay layer, so it is easier to upgrade the PoW chain to Casper.

The Casper algorithm is actually safer than the PoS algorithm represented by Peercoin, because such a PoS algorithm of Peercoin cannot solve the problem of no-interest attacks.

Zheka believes that in the traditional PoW blockchain, some individuals and institutions will act as miners, using expensive hardware to solve mathematical problems, thereby casting new bitcoins and processing transactions. Miners earn additional bitcoin and transaction fees by maintaining network security.

In contrast, in the PoS blockchain, the verifier locks the token to provide security for the network, thereby casting new ether and processing transactions. So in fact, the security provided by the verifier depends on the value of the network itself. If a validator commits evil, the locked ether will be confiscated. The penalty mechanism will encourage the verifier to comply with the protocol rules.

One reason PoS has high security is that PoW systems are vulnerable to “spawn camping” attacks. If the mining hardware mastered by the perpetrator is sufficient 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 will be attacked by the same group of mining hardware. Cycle endlessly.

In contrast, Ethereum 2.0 is much more resistant to squatting attacks-Ethereum 2.0 can fork and fine the attacker ‘s deposit. This is like destroying the attacker’s Bitcoin mine.

Overall, the emergence of Ethereum 2.0 will bring more possibilities to the entire blockchain industry. But as far as the development cycle is concerned, although the three-step strategy is sound, it is inevitable that various changes will occur in the long-term technological evolution, and the road map and plans are very likely to change. As far as the current progress is concerned, Ethereum 2.0 seems difficult to complete by 2023.

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