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The Ethereum Vision

A digital future on a global scale

Grow Ethereum until it's powerful enough to help all of humanity.
Illustration of a group of people marvelling at an ether (ETH) glyph in awe

The need for upgrades

The Ethereum protocol that launched in 2015 has had incredible success. But the Ethereum community always expected that a few key upgrades would be necessary to unlock Ethereum's full potential.

High demand is driving up transaction fees that make Ethereum expensive for the average user. The disk space needed to run an Ethereum client is growing at a fast rate. And the underlying proof-of-work consensus algorithm that keeps Ethereum secure and decentralized has a big environmental impact.

Ethereum has a set of upgrades that address these problems and more. This set of upgrades was originally called 'Serenity' and 'Eth2,' and they've been an active area of research and development since 2014.

Now that the technology is ready, these upgrades will re-architect Ethereum to make it more scalable, secure, and sustainable - to make life better for existing users and entice new ones. All while preserving Ethereum's core value of decentralization.

This means there's no on-switch for scalability. Improvements will ship incrementally over time.

Today's problems

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Clogged network

Ethereum needs to reduce network congestion and improve speeds to better service a global user base.

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Disk space

Running a node is getting harder as the network grows. This will only get harder with efforts to scale the network.

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Too much energy

Ethereum uses too much electricity. The technology that keeps the network secure needs to be more sustainable.

The challenge of decentralized scaling

A naive way to solve Ethereum's problems would be to make it more centralized. But decentralization is too important. It's decentralization that gives Ethereum censorship resistance, openness, data privacy and near-unbreakable security.

Ethereum's vision is to be more scalable and secure, but also to remain decentralized. Achieving these 3 qualities is a problem known as the scalability trilemma.

Ethereum upgrades aim to solve the trilemma but there are significant challenges.

Tap the circles below to better understand the problems of decentralized scaling:

Explore the scalability trilemma

Press the buttons on the triangle to better understand the problems of decentralized scaling.

Explore the scalability trilemma

Press the buttons on the triangle to better understand the problems of decentralized scaling.

EthereumDecentralizationSecurityScalability

Understanding the Ethereum vision

Scalability 🚀

Ethereum needs to be able to handle more transactions per second without increasing the size of the nodes in the network. Nodes are vital network participants who store and run the blockchain. Increasing node size isn't practical because only those with powerful and expensive computers could do it. To scale, Ethereum needs more transactions per second, coupled with more nodes. More nodes means more security.

Sharding upgrades will spread the data storage requirements across the entire network, no longer requiring every node to hold 100% of the data. Although this doesn't directly address scaling the execution of transactions, this problem is being addressed directly by layer 2 rollup solutions.

Rollups need cheap storage on layer 1 though to be most effective. Sharding will give Ethereum room to breathe by maximizing the efficiency on rollups, enabling exponential improvements beyond the current 15-45 transactions per second limit. More on sharding

Security 🛡️

The planned upgrades improve Ethereum's security against coordinated attacks, like a 51% attack. This is a type of attack where if someone controls the majority of the network they can force through fraudulent changes.

The transition to proof-of-stake means that the Ethereum protocol has greater disincentives against attack. This is because in proof-of-stake, the validators who secure the network must stake significant amounts of ETH into the protocol. If they try and attack the network, the protocol can automatically destroy their ETH. More on proof of stake

This isn't possible in proof-of-work, where the best a protocol can do is force entities who secure the network (the miners) to lose mining rewards they would have otherwise earned. To achieve the equivalent effect in proof-of-work, the protocol would have to be able to destroy all of a miner's equipment if they try and cheat. More on proof of work

Ethereum's security model also needs to change because of the introduction of sharding. The Beacon Chain will coordinate all of the validators who will be responsible for asserting that all data has been made available, but every node will no longer be required to hold the entire history of the chain. A new role is also anticipated, known as a dedicated block builder, who will work alongside block proposers (validators) for efficient and safe block production. Proof-of-stake is a prerequisite to sharding.

Staking also means you don't need to invest in elite hardware to participate directly in consensus. This should encourage more people to become a validator, increasing the network's decentralization and decreasing the attack surface area.

You can become a validator by staking your ETH. More on nodes

Stake ETH

Sustainability 🌲

Ethereum needs to be greener.

It's no secret that Ethereum and other blockchains like Bitcoin are energy intensive because of mining. More on mining

But Ethereum is moving towards being secured by ETH via staking, not computing power. More on staking

Although staking has already been introduced by the Beacon Chain, the Ethereum we use today is still running in parallel until The Merge. One system secured by ETH, the other by computing power.

After significant testing, work is nearing completion on merging Mainnet with the new consensus layer. Mainnet will soon be secured by staked ETH and far less energy intensive.

More on The Merge

Explore the upgrades

The Beacon Chain

The Beacon Chain brought staking to Ethereum, laid the groundwork for future upgrades, and will soon coordinate the new system.

The Beacon Chain is live

The Merge

Mainnet Ethereum will soon 'merge' with the proof-of-stake Beacon Chain, marking the end of energy-intensive mining.

Estimate: 2022

Sharding

Sharding will expand Ethereum's capacity to store data, and work harmoniously with L2s to scale throughput and reduce network fees. Sharding will be rolled out in multiple stages.

Estimate: 2023-2024

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