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The launch of Ethereum could be delayed again because the developers have planned the upgrade of the proof-of-stake algorithm for the month of June 2020. Taking into account all the factors surrounding the long-awaited launch, the development team’s statements could be construed as a almost official promise.
While the statements sound optimistic to most of the crypto community, the fact remains that the update is still not in sight. The main reasons for the warning are the presence of multiple bugs in the system and competitors striving to outperform Ethereum as the first in the market to successfully implement a proof-of-stake.
Why does it take so long?
The incessant hunt for code bugs is the main reason for delaying the launch of Ethereum 2.0 that was initially scheduled for January 2020. It is true that bug detection and elimination is a tedious task, and routines like security audits, fuzzing, detecting and bug fixing can take months and never end, because the code itself is an infinite stream that can never be perfected.
Since it is the customers who are responsible for storing the data from the blockchain and validating blocks, it is important that they are fully synchronized. Seven individual customers are currently in development for Ethereum 2.0, and most of them are working on optimizations for the Schlesi test network, the first Ethereum 2.0 multi-client test network to simulate the core network environment.
Ethereum 2.0’s Schlesi test network was successful enough to give hope in June for a more formal test network with several customers based on the 0.12 specification. Most of the work the team is currently doing is focused on correcting bugs in the code and improving detection methods. Mehdi Zerouali of Sigma Prime reported significant progress in developing “fuzzy” methods that input fictitious data into the program to detect errors.
But if we take a closer look at the main reasons for the bugs, it becomes clear that the multi-user Ethereum 2.0 paradigm is the main reason for the delays.
There are currently seven client implementations of ETH2.0 available, namely Cortex Nethermind, the Ethereum Foundation Trinity, Lodestar ChainSafe, Prysm Labs Prysmatic, Sigma Prime Lighthouse, Status Nimbus and Teku PegaSys.
The so-called “first specification” approach was chosen by the development team to create the foundation on which each customer will be able to work. Needless to say, the amount of work was enormous, as the approach provides for the completion of the full draft version of the protocol first, followed by the implementation process itself. This “multi-client paradigm” causes the delays, as the human resources are apparently insufficient to ensure optimal development.
But having multiple clients is critical to maintaining a high level of network security, and the development team certainly won’t compromise security for optimal boot timing. Even if that means breaking some promises and delaying the launch.
In an effort to speed up system polishing, the bug bounty program has been running for some time, offering hunters anywhere from $ 500 to $ 10,000 for critical errors that can break the chain. The bounty program parallels the audit of the Phase 0 specification, which is being conducted to ensure that the network can proceed to the next phase of its development in preparation for launch.
Complex structure and management problems
Aside from the bugs and bug searches, there are also management issues that push the launch date further due to human factors.
The Ethereum blockchain may seem like a single entity, but it is in fact managed by several development and management teams. Some of these teams are part of independent organizations and, as can be deduced from such a hierarchical structure, getting all these teams to work synchronously and on time is a daunting task.
In order to shed some light on the way the entire network works, it is necessary to understand that some teams are working on sharding and are called customers. Other teams are involved in security audits, while others are working on the Ethereum 2.0 network itself. An experienced manager would say that such an approach to division of labor would allow efficient delegation, but notes that it also complicates systematic development on a larger scale, throwing smaller tasks into the background.
The more people involved in the development of the platform, the more organizations are needed and the more software is dumped in the main operational pool. With technical scalability, social scalability must come under good management to ensure smooth and streamlined operation.
“We don’t have enough people to really help us with these things,” said Jameson Hudson, Ethereum developer.
Given the above challenges, it is essential that the test network remains fully operational for at least two months to qualify for official launch. Two customers are currently working on the Schlesi network: Lighthouse from Sigma Prime and Prysm from Prysmatic Labs. The Teku and Nimbus clients also synchronized with Schlesi and will soon launch their validators on the test network.
Competitors who win the race
While the developers of Ethereum fix the bugs, the prize for the first ongoing proof-of-stake consensus can be won by their competitors.
There are several prominent projects getting closer to the finish – Harmony, Tezos, EOS, Cosmos, Algorand and Qtum, all with viable and operational products.
Tezos runs a stakeout program under the “Liquid Proof-of-Stake” algorithm, a hybrid between PoS and delegated proof-of-stake called DPoS. The validation of blocks in the Tezos network is known as “baking” and anyone who has Tezos XTZ tokens can delegate them to other validators to “bake” on their behalf with 8000 tokens needed as a minimum “role” for operating a node. The yield is now 7%.
Algorand runs their ‘pure proof-of-stake’, which uses a ‘secret self-selection system’ to choose randomly selected stakeholder committees to validate blocks. All Algo token holders are rewarded for simply holding tokens. As such, there is no minimum stake for earning rewards and the current return is approximately 5%.
Qtum also runs on a pure PoS consensus, and anyone with Qtum tokens can become a validator and compete for rewards. Betting on Qtum pays approximately 7% per year and there is no minimum bet. Keeping more tokens, however, increases the chance of being selected for validating and processing transactions on the network.
Likewise, the Harmony project recently launched its commitment, becoming the first shards PoS blockchain to manage two technologies simultaneously. Harmony is a fast and open blockchain for decentralized applications. The protocol has achieved safe and arbitrary status shielding. Harmony’s mainnet supports hundreds of nodes in multiple shards and produces blocks with instant finality in seconds. The network stakeout mechanism reduces centralization and supports stake delegation, compounding, and double-character cutting. Harmony strikers can earn from 45% to 15% in the first year.
Transactions on Harmony are completed within eight seconds, significantly exceeding the waiting times of the Ethereum network. Transaction fees on Harmony also fluctuate around $ 0.000001. Sharding allows Harmony to achieve such results without sacrificing decentralization, as the network consists of more than 320 public nodes and the project plans to increase the number to 1,000 and beyond by the end of the year.
2020 can be decisive
With new solutions emerging rapidly in the blockchain market, Ethereum remains the pioneer and main contributor to the development of sharding and strike technologies.
Given the hundreds of thousands of transactions that are conducted on the network every day, delaying the launch of such a major upgrade as Ethereum 2.0 could be the least of the harm aimed at making blockchain usage smooth and secure for tens of thousands of users around the world.
In the meantime, 2020 can be a decisive year for the implementation and further development of PoS blockchains and scalability solutions.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Kalifer – Art Creations