Since the dawn of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, it has emerged that faster transactions durations and scalability are major challenges. Ethereum 2.0, the last phase in the development of the Ethereum platform seeks to Eliminate these shortfalls and make the concept of “the World’s Supercomputer a reality. Indeed, the second most popular blockchain network holds great promise.
Ethereum, the open-source, public, distributed computing platform based on the Blockchain was initially released in July 2015. This network that also doubles as an operating system featuring the smart contracts functionality is almost solely responsible for the bloom that the ICO space saw between 2016 and mid-2018.
Coming with innovations that the original authors Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood thought would address the issues that challenged the Bitcoin Blockchain, Ethereum has instead faced a few challenges of its own.
The said problems, and the need to make the Blockchain space better, improve the speed of transaction, enhance security, and incorporate built-in scalability created the need to work diligently on the last phase of the project: Ethereum 2.0.
The Overview of Ethereum 2.0
In a nutshell, Ethereum 2.0 is the last stage of the development phases of the Ethereum platform. Also referred to as Serenity, this stage transfers the platform from a Proof of Work (PoW) status to a Proof of Stake (PoS) form. It also introduces a new Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
The roadmap of this phase has four stages that are the Beacon Chain, which is slated for completion in Q1 of 2020. The second stage is the Shard Chains which should be up in 2021 and the New Ethereum Virtual Machine better known as eWASM also meant for completion at about the same time.
The last stage involves continued development, which will happen in 2022 henceforth.
Overall, Ethereum 2.0 refers to all the updates of the Serenity phase of Ethereum which seek to make the blockchain faster, more scalable, and better performing.
To understand this statement better, it is important that you first grasp the various development and evolutions stages of the Ethereum platform. Essentially, these stages also incorporate the intermediate hard forks that dot the developmental process.
A Little Retrospection
The Frontier – Block #0
This block refers to the initial creation stage of the Ethereum platform that includes the work undertaken between July 2015 and March 2016.
The Ice Age – Block #200,000
This, essentially, is the first hard fork of the platform. It was programmed as a measure that would introduce the exponential difficulty increase to encourage the move from PoW to PoS when the shift became necessary.
Homestead – Block #1,150,000
The Homestead refers to the second state of the platform. It was launched in March 2016 upon completion of the Frontier.
DAO – Block #1,192,000
This stage came about when the infamous DAO attack happened to the Ethereum platform. To reimburse the victims of the said attack, the platform underwent a hard fork that resulted in Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. After the hard fork, the two currencies became two opposing systems.
Tangerine Whistle – Block #2,463,000
This was another hard fork in the platform. Such hard forks serve various purposes. This particular one, for instance, was instituted to first, reconstituted to alter the gas calculation of some input/output (I/O) operations. Second, it served to clean the accumulated state that followed the denial-of-service (DoS) attack that sought to take advantage of the low gas cost of the operations referred to above.
Spurious Dragon - Block #2,675,000
At this stage of the platform development, DoS attacks and their vectors were prevalent. This hard fork addressed the said attacks, undertook clearance of the status, and set up a repayment structure for the attacks.
Metropolis Byzantium - Block #4,370,000
Launched sometime in October 2017, Metropolis Byzantium marked the third stage in the development of the Ethereum platform. It also served as a hard fork, the first actually, of the two Metropolis hard forks.
Constantinople - Block #7,280,000
Constantinople refers to the second hard fork in the Metropolis stage. It was concluded in February, 2019. It included changes that were infused to address the security issues the platform programmers had codenamed Petersburg.
Istanbul - Block #9,056,000
This is the last hard fork before the transition to Ethereum 2.0. It was activated early December 2019 to first, provide security fixes, and second, to offer incentives for migrants from the PoW to PoW algorithm.
With such an elaborate road map and work plan, one is tempted to ask, why Ethereum 2.0?
And, what next after all these stages?
First, it is clear that Ethereum has been work in progress since its launch. The hard folks tell it all. Second, there are inherent issues that the new project wants to address. The key goals of Ethereum 2.0. are:
• Security – Increase the number of validators and their participation per unit time using crypto and design techniques.
• Resilience – Limit or eliminate downtime even when the majority of the nodes go offline.
• Simplicity – Sacrifice certain efficiencies to maximize simplicity.
• Decentralization – Enable consumer laptops to process shards. Allow most low-end devices to take part in validation.
• Longevity – Improve quantum security of components. Make the platform quantum ready.
The End Goal
The Ethereum platform hopes to unveil a better new EVM when Ethereum 2.0. comes of age. This new core, also called Ethereum WebAssembly or eWASM will perform much better and support smart contracts, states, accounts and many other aspects on the blockchain.
Ethereum 2.0. means a great deal to the cryptocurrency space. It is by no means the end, however, since it is a software and as with others its ilk, it is up for improvement and fixes with time. If it becomes a success in the end, then it means the blockchain environment will have gotten a fully-scalable network that is general purpose. Indeed, the world’s supercomputer will have become a reality. It is one of the projects in the space whose success may help hasten the full adoption of cryptocurrencies.