Blockchain developers and the digital assets world are aware that Sharding is needed for scalability and performance before any platform could claim superiority. Although the problem has been known for many years, only one platform has managed to develop database sharding thus far on an active blockchain.
In 2014, a Bitcoin Magazine article entitled “Ensuring Network Scalibility: How to Fight Blockchain Bloat” talked about bloating effects on blockchain. It says, “With more and more users turning to Bitcoin and Chief Scientist Gavin Andresen having proposed a hard fork of the blockchain, the issue of network scalability has once again risen to the surface.
The problem is called “blockchain bloat”: when more transactions are made, the blockchain has more data to record, and if it grows too large, it becomes difficult to easily download or store. As a result, blocks are currently limited in size, which limits the maximum number of transactions per second we can make to 7–far less than the volume handled by Visa or MasterCard. This has become a major point of criticism against Bitcoin, especially with the arrival of “Bitcoin 2.0″ applications unrelated to cryptocurrency that want to use the blockchain.”
The bitcoin bloat problem still exists although that article highlighted a number of solutions that could fix the bloating issue.
On June 12, 2017, Cointelegraph published the article “Ethereum ‘Blockchain Bloat’ Could Reach 1TB In 2017” in which users expressed frustration over the bloat. One user said the bloat is +700%.
If solving the bloat problem was that simple, many projects, such as ETH, BCH, XLM, and Ripple, would have mastered the technology. But it’s not that easy to do.
On January 18, 2018, Coindesk featured an article by Rachel Rose O’Leary entitled “Blockchain Bloat: How Ethereum Is Tackling Storage Issues” in which Ethereum creators responded to bloating. Part of that article says, “According to Szilágyi, eventually, client optimizations will reach their limit. And then developers will have to turn their attention to in-progress technologies, such as sharding, which splits up the Ethereum database into smaller pieces stored at different nodes, in an effort to alleviate the pressure of storing the full database on individual clients.”
08 June 2018, Coincentral: Under “What Can Sharding Realistically Become in the Future?”
Sharding is promising for both the technical advancements of blockchains as well as the adoption of cryptocurrencies. In the present, complex issues like inter-shard communication and overall security of sharded blockchains appear difficult to solve.
Currently, it’s still too early to tell exactly when blockchains will implement sharding. The ability to reach 1 million tps would easily put any blockchain project ahead of fiat currency payment processors (i.e. Visa, Mastercard, etc.).
The competition to reach such levels of real-world scalability with sharding is (and other solutions) is well underway. Regardless of which project is able to accomplish this feat first, it will be interesting to see how the goal to do so will shape the landscape of collaboration and competition across the industry.
Charlie Sammonds, 09 November 2018, on Binary District website under the subheading “The State of Sharding,” gave great insight on where the sharding technology stands at the time of his writing. “The current state of sharding is that it is underdeveloped. Attempts to put the idea into practice have been limited, despite public support from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and his insistence that “sharding is coming”. He continued, “The enthusiasm for sharding that swelled in 2017 seems to quietly have died down, but among blockchain communities, it is still largely accepted that sharding is a promising potential solution to one of the biggest issues the technology faces.”
February 24, 2019, Apollo Foundation released an article on their Medium channel: “How Sharding Will Benefit Apollo Users.” “Apollo Foundation will launch Hermes Protocol 2.0 in the coming weeks and it will include Sharding. The innovation will further speed up Apollo’s blockchain whose settlement time is already 1–2 seconds — one of the fastest in the industry.”
EThHub says, “There is a trilemma in blockchain systems that can be visualized in form of a triangle known as DCS triangle, what it conveys is “It is impossible to achieve all three Decentralization, Consistency, and Scalability simultaneously. A tradeoff is necessary (you can choose any two but not all)”.
Sharding is Ready
April 1, 2019, Apollo Foundation Database Sharding went into effect.
Apollo Foundation’s revolutionary sharding protocol has arrived, making Apollo one of the first crypto ventures to successfully launch the feature on its network. It solves long-term challenges with blockchain such as bloat.
The first shard executes at block 2,250,000 on April 1. (See important update on sharding release.)
Moving ahead to May 24, 2019, SFOX blog post entitled “ethereum 2.0” highlighted the creator of Ethereum in his own words. Vitalik Buterin explanation to Sharding was:
“Imagine that Ethereum has been split into thousands of islands. Each island can do its own thing. Each of the islands has its own unique features and everyone belonging on that island, i.e., the accounts, can interact with each other and they can freely indulge in all its features. If they want to contact with other islands, they will have to use some sort of protocol.”
Apollo mastered the impossible technology ahead of the entire crypto space. Its groundbreaking technology news was covered by PR Newswire, PICANTE, ChainLeak, BitcoinTalk, etc. Within the Sharding news on the Apollo Medium, the Foundation noted as that happens, these take place:
It will split the ledger database into time-based (or blockchain height-based) segments. The split will be made on each node in the consensus. (Each node “knows” when that split occurred.)
Each shard will be completed every 750,000 blocks after 1,400 blocks of acknowledgment.
Information will be added to each shard/segment that allows blockchain operations to happen without queries to the full ledger database.
This will optimize the blockchain processing code to use the last segment for most operations.
Make each segment “trusted” by signing its summary tables.
Make full blockchain downloading optional/delayed. Download the latest segment of the ledger and start processing.
Download previous blockchain segments on demand.
Download blockchain from last to first blocks.
Knowing that Sharding is an advanced technology that was an impossible element of the bloating puzzle, the Apollo Foundation proved they could do any and everything in blockchain technology. If Sharding was created by Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple, Tron, and BCH, they would have dominated blockchain technology, and it would have reflected in the price. Apollo Sharding can be verified on the Apollo GitHub at any time because it is open to the public. It could take years before other platforms could solve the bloating issue.