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Casper & Sharding Upgrades Coming to Ethereum?

Ethereum is set to experience one of the most important updates coming to the network. In an Ethereum Core Devs Meeting #40, developers on the network discussed upcoming updates.

The major focus of the meeting is to reschedule the release of Casper and sharding. Prior to this revelation, Casper should have been released as a smart contract, independent of the sharding upgrade. However, the new proposal suggests that Casper be released on shard, or a sidechain.

In April 2018, co-founder of Ethereum (ETH), Vitalik Buterin announced a possible implementation of sharding on the Ethereum blockchain via a series of tweets. Sharding is a process of dividing a transaction into smaller bits for faster throughputs, this increasing the number of transactions a blockchain can process. As its current state, Ethereum can only process approximately 30 transactions per second. This is nothing to write home about, considering the fact that traditional payment processors like Visa can do over 150,000 transactions per second. The idea of sharding however, is that nodes will store just part of the distributed registry, as opposed to storing the entire piece.

Ethereum’s Casper FFG which was first published in October 2017 is supposed to introduce a proof of stake (PoS) consensus model to the existing proof of work (PoW) model on the ETH blockchain. It is meant to solve “open questions of economic finality through validator deposits and crypto-economic incentives.”

In late April this year, Hybrid Casper FFG was introduced as part of the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) #1011. The protocol aimed to solve the current issues associated with crypto mining by proffering a hybrid system of consensus as a solution. PoW protocols require high computation power, are expensive, and in the long run, somewhat affect the environment.

According to the proposal, the Hybrid Casper will combine PoW and PoS consensus, and will eventually transition to PoS. This update will reduce the block reward for miners from 3 ETH to 0.6 ETH.

Buterin during the dev meeting stated that the new updates of Casper and sharding will scale up the chain to its “theoretical maximum”. He also noted that the rescheduling of the upgrades is aimed at reducing the minimum deposit amount required to participate in securing the network from 1500 ETH to 32 ETH. He claimed that Casper is “more separate from the main chain”, and that the new model will allow developers launch Casper without interfering with the main network. He said: “The Casper component is somewhat more separate from the main chain. That means it can be developed less intrusively in some ways, it can be developed as a separate chain and can have its own rules.”

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