Ethereum Casper Update Expected in 2019, Sharding in 2020

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Ethereum 2.0, which incorporates the Casper upgrade and the addition of sharding, could be implemented from 2019 onwards, say Ethereum’s leaders.

Talking to TechCrunch at its TechCrunch Sessions Blockchain event in Switzerland’s “crypto valley”,  Vitalik Buterin, Justin Drake, and Karl Floersch spoke about the future of Ethereum scaling.

“The demand for using public blockchains is high and we need to up the stability in order to meet that demand,” said Buterin.

Though the team indicated that if they could start over with Ethereum, they might implement some additional features straight away, the problem of scaling is “fundamentally hard”, and going forward is the only option.

“There are a lot of people who are sending transactions and want those transactions to get onto the blockchain. The blockchain is popular enough and people are interested enough in using it that they basically have to compete to get those transactions included into the blocks,” said Ethereum Foundation researcher Justin Drake.

What is Ethereum 2.0?

Drake outlined the two current priorities to improve the Ethereum blockchain, which would create Ethereum 2.0.

The first is Casper, Ethereum’s upcoming proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm.

“The idea of proof of stake is partly to provide a new superpower to blockchains which is called finality,” said Drake. “The other idea of proof of stake is to reduce the cost of consensus.”

The second component of Ethereum 2.0 is sharding, which is Ethereum’s solution to problems of scalability. It will allow the Ethereum blockchain to cope with more users and transactions without losing speed or becoming congested.

The sharding solution and the Casper update are now being combined, Drake explained, as they have a common infrastructure and will benefit the Ethereum network by being integrated at the same time. The “shards” which will be implemented, communicate with each other via “cross-links” or “checkpoints.” At the same time, Casper will strengthen the checkpoints by giving them added security and scalability.

When will Ethereum 2.0 Launch?

The combined upgrades, forming Ethereum 2.0, could take several years to implement.

“My expectation is that Casper will come first — possibly next year, 2019,” said Drake. “Then in sharding we’ve actually broken it down into two big phases.”

Phase one of sharding will happen in 2020, and phase two in 2021.

Ethereum developer Floersch told TechCrunch that the next stage after Ethereum 2.0 would be Ethereum 3.0—a network that would enable systems that can withstand and support the power of quantum computers.

“We’ll push quantum secure updates before there are commercial quantum computers,” said Floersch.

The team went on to stress the importance of Ethereum’s roadmap to its success. Bitcoin is too disconnected. Ethereum, they say, benefits from a clear roadmap that is part of the Ethereum social contract.

“People who buy into Ethereum buy in knowing that these are the things that people are going to want to push it forward,” said Buterin.

Buterin also had lots to say about centralized cryptocurrency exchanges at TechCrunch Sessions, including his headline, “burn in hell,” comment.

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