As a new year’s gift to the blockchain community, Vitalik Buterin, in his first blog post of 2018, announced two subsidised programs for research and development of measures to support the increasing number of transactions in the blockchain.
For each program, subsidies will cover the development cost and will range between $50,000 to $1 million.
Ethereum is the leading blockchain in the current market, and the Ethereum Foundation unveiled the program as the blockchain surpassed 1 million transactions per day.
In the blog post, Buterin explained the current challenges faced by the blockchain network with the increasing number of transactions, and then suggested two ways to overcome these challenges and make the network more efficient. He also pointed out that “the single most important key technical challenge” that blockchain developers should work on before the mass adaptation of the technology is the scaling of the network.
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One of the two mentioned subsidized programs is to implement the sharding mechanism for scaling the network, while the other is to develop layer-2 protocols which will work on the top of the present blockchain.
With sharding, only a handful of nodes will participate in the verification process of each transaction, instead of all of them as the system demands currently. This will also enable the network to process multiple transactions at the same time. The Ethereum development team is already working on sharding technology and is looking for teams to implement and launch the technology on the Ethereum testnet.
Scaling with layer-2 protocols is totally different from sharding. This approach takes the transaction load off the main blockchain network, and moves it on and off the blockchain to be processed.
According to Buterin, a combination of both these technologies will be required to scale the blockchain, as they complement each other.
By the end of November last year, Buterin unveiled the roadmap of Ethereum 2.0 and also discussed the challenges faced by the blockchain. He also affirmed that the team is trying to reach VISA-level scalability in the next 3 to 5 years.
On the last day of 2017, the alpha version of Casper PoS testnet was released on Github. Casper will turn Ethereum from a Proof-of-Work network into a Proof-of-Stake network, again helping with scaling.