The Ethereum network is still the dominant platform for dApps. However, challengers such as Solana are quickly closing the gap. Recent upgrades have put Ethereum in a better position to compete, but to sustain the top spot the network will need much deeper improvements.
Here are some of the most critical upgrades expected for the Ethereum network in the years ahead.
Fraud proofs or ZK-SNARKs
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin recently mentioned the need for fraud proofs or ZK-SNARKs to enhance security and scalability on the network. These highly complex tools would allow users to keep certain information on their transactions or smart contracts private. It would also allow multiple transactions to be rolled up together, which improves efficiency.
These features may be on the horizon as the network transitions to ETH 2.0. According to Buterin’s Endgame post earlier this month, these features could be a critical element in helping Ethereum scale to the level users need.
The so-called “Marge” is another key milestone for the Ethereum network. Due to happen sometime in 2022, this upgrade will effectively merge the existing network with the Beacon chain that was launched in December 2020. Put simply, this merge will complete the transition of Ethereum from a Proof-of-Work to a Proof-of-Stake mechanism.
Many of Ethereum’s competitors are already on the PoS conesus mechanism. The framework helps keep costs down for users, while reducing the network’s environmental impact. In fact, core developers of the Ethereum network believe the eventual Merge will reduce the network’s environmental impact by 99.95%.
The Merge paves the way for another critical upgrade that is also expected in 2022: Shard Chains.
Congestion has been a frequent issue on the Ethereum network. It’s a sign that the network is a victim of its own success. dApps and NFTs have been so popular on the platform that they’ve caused transaction fees to spike and slowed down the network for all users.
Shard Chains is a potential solution. The upgrade hopes to add 64 new chains to the core blockchain network to spread the load across. Spreading data across these separate chains should reduce congestion and make the core network much more usable. It also reduces the hardware requirements for running an Ethereum node, which makes the platform more robust and accessible.
Shard Chains is expected to be launched right after the Merge is completed in 2022.
The digital assets landscape is constantly evolving. This year, new blockchain solutions have threatened Ethereum’s position as the hub of decentralized development. These newer chains are faster, cheaper and easier to use. To keep up, developers on the Ethereum network have planned major upgrades such as Shard Chains and the Merge that resolve some of the network’s most critical issues.