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Ethereum sharding and impacts

What is sharding?

Sharding simply means splitting the entire Ethereum network into a number of portions known as “shards.” It means horizontal splitting of a database towards spreading the load. After sharding, every shard would have a personal independent state, which means a special set of smart contracts and account balances.

When it comes to Ethereum, apart from the facilitation of scalability, sharding will cut down network congestion and heighten transactions per second by the creation of new chains, called shards. Sharding on the Ethereum network became necessary because of scaling. This is because nodes are critical to the network as they are in charge of the verification of the work miners do and they ensure cooperation with consensus rules.

However, the best means of doing this is keeping a whole copy of the Ethereum ledger, such that the verification of a miner’s work is easy. Unfortunately, the Ethereum blockchain is moving towards 1 Terabyte of storage thereby making it unrealistic for a regular individual to run a node. Likewise, manipulation of the network becomes easy when just a few people can run these nodes due to being quite large. 

Features and advantages of sharding on Ethereum network

Sharding gives everyone the opportunity to run a node. It is a practical means of scaling if things must remain decentralized. So the option is to increase the size of the existing database. Hence, network validators will have less access to the Ethereum network due to the need for costly and powerful computers.

The existence of shard chains requires validators to solely run or store data for the shard they are validating instead of the whole network. This increases speed and it brings about a drastic reduction in hardware requirements.

Sharding on the network will also facilitate the participation of more people. This means users will be able to run Ethereum on a personal phone or laptop. Security will be heightened because an increase in network decentralization creates a smaller surface area for any attack.

Further, users do not need to rely on any intermediary services to run clients personally, with lower hardware requirements. Sharding also makes it possible for users to run a number of clients. Network health can be maintained by more reduction in points of failure.

Shards and the beacon chain

The logic meant for the safety of shards and synching is within the beacon chain. The function of the beacon chain is stakes coordination within the network. It assigns them to shards they require to work on. Likewise, it helps shards to communicate as it receives and stores shard transaction data that other shards can access. Hence, shards have a snapshot of the state of the Ethereum network towards keeping everything updated.

Challenges of sharding

Sharding opens up the network to potential attacks, majorly the notion of a Single-Shard Takeover Attack. A Single-Shard Takeover Attack involves an attacker taking control of most of collators in a single shard towards the creation of a malicious shard capable of submitting invalid collations. 

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