Ethereum is the leading blockchain for decentralized applications (Dapps). It attracts the most users and projects, and is the pioneer of Dapps. The popularity has led to network congestion which has caused slow transaction times and high fees on the blockchain. This makes it hard for projects on Ethereum to scale their operations, let alone remain sustainable.
As a result, the Ethereum team has been working on upgrades to make the platform more efficient while maintaining the security and non-custodial nature of the original blockchain. As part of this, Ethereum continues to undergo upgrades ahead of a transition to Ethereum 2.0.
In 2022, Ethereum 2.0 is expected to be fully operational.
Here are the key changes we can expect to take place on Ethereum in 2022 as it transitions into Ethereum 2.0 fully:
Moving from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake
The primary effort to make Ethereum more efficient is to change from the current proof-of-work consensus algorithm to a proof-of-stake (PoS).
Under proof-of-work (PoW), nodes on the blockchain are always competing to solve complex mathematical puzzles (mining) so that they can validate and save new information to the blockchain. Solving these puzzles requires a lot of computing power that, in turn, causes a lot of energy/electricity use. Not only will abandoning this system be better for the environment, but the network will benefit from a more efficient system.
Under proof-of-stake, nodes will have to stake tokens to have the right to save changes to the blockchain. Once a node is “activated” to become a validator, they do not have to compete to validate and save changes to the blockchain. PoS will also reduce the barrier to entry for validators, since the old system, PoW, requires expensive computing equipment to mine.
The current Ethereum Mainnet will soon merge with the Proof-of-Stake Beacon Chain. The merge will turn on Proof-of-Stake and end energy-intensive Proof-of-Work.
As part of making the platform more efficient and accessible, Ethereum 2.0 is introducing sharding. This involves subdividing the blockchain into smaller blockchains (shards) which will reduce network congestion, reduce the load on participating nodes and increase the number of transactions per second (TPS).
By reducing congestion, sharding can help Ethereum increase average TPS from the current 15 to its target of 150,000. This will address constant supply-demand bottlenecks that lead to increased fees.
Currently, all data that needs saving has to be verified by all participating nodes. With sharding, nodes will only need to store/run the data for the individual shard they are validating.
Besides a likely boost in efficiency, sharding will make it easier for more people to validate transactions for Ethereum.
Sharding will eventually let you run Ethereum on a personal laptop or phone.
Sharding is the last and final phase to Ethereum 2.0 launch.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine is the system that runs on all the nodes on the blockchain. This is where all the updates to information on the system are saved. It hosts all the smart contracts that run dApps on the blockchain. To write instructions to the system, programmers need to program with the native language, Solidity. Also, the EVM is not generally well understood.
In efforts to let anyone program smart contracts and contribute to Ethereum’s growth, they are implementing what they call eWASM that will introduce web-assembly language. This will make it possible to execute code from modern browsers. Furthermore, the change will let programmers select from languages such as Rust, C, and C++ when writing code to run on the blockchain.
The upgrade from Ethereum is taking place gradually with periodic releases. In August 2022, Ethereum is expected to release new improvements. It is expeced that the complete transition to Ethereum 2.0 will occur in 2 years.