What is Sharding?

What is Sharding?

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May 23, 2018 by matthewrobinson
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Sharding is a potential scaling solution for cryptocurrencies. This video and text guide will teach you more about it. What is sharding? Sharding breaks a big database into smaller pieces called shards so that computers can processes those pieces in parallel. What problem does it solve? The Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains cannot process more than
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Sharding is a potential scaling solution for cryptocurrencies. This video and text guide will teach you more about it.

What is sharding?

Sharding breaks a big database into smaller pieces called shards so that computers can processes those pieces in parallel.

graphic representation of sharding
Graphic Representation – Simplified

What problem does it solve?

The Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains cannot process more than 3-15 transactions per second, which limits their commercial use. Most solutions that increase throughout (transactions per second) typically compromise security or decentralization for speed, but sharding could potentially enhance throughput without a compromise. With sharding, groups of computers could process divisions of the blockchain. This could result in more efficient processing compared to the status quo, in which each computer verifies the entire blockchain.

Why is it hard to implement?

It already exists in centralized databases, but implementing sharding on decentralized databases that are designed to be trustless is more difficult. Some of the primary challenges stem from malicious actors and cross-shard communication:

  1. What happens if a malicious actor takes over a shard and broadcasts an invalid transaction or prevents valid transactions from processing?
  2. How could other shards recognize that a different shard is acting maliciously?
  3. How do the shards communicate with each other so that a user cannot make the same transaction on two different shards at the same time?

Which cryptocurrencies use sharding?

Zilliqa is a cryptocurrency that focuses on sharding. Ethereum and Cardano have also released intentions to utilizing sharding.

Where can I learn more?

The Ethereum Github is one of the best resources to learn about sharding. That Github page goes into detail without getting too technical. The Zilliqa whitepaper is another good resource, but is more technical than the Ethereum Github page.

If you want to learn about some other similar cryptocurrency terms and topics, check out some of BlockWolf’s other topics.