There are a lot of people paying attention to Near recently, and there are many reasons. Raising $350 million from top institutions, raising funds for ecological projects one after another, and launching the algorithmic stablecoin USN… These actions at different levels all point in the same direction – Near is starting to take off.
It is no longer the era of public chains, but Near’s narrative is the narrative of Web 3.0, which is often mentioned together with technologies such as Ethereum 2.0 and heterogeneous cross-chain that have not really arrived, so the pace of Near does not have to be compared with other technologies. The public chain is consistent.
But will Near really take off? After all, Dfinity, which has a bigger narrative than Near, is a hard lesson.
shard as direction
On April 22, 2020, Near’s genesis block was officially launched. Compared to those Ethereum sidechains, this is a blockchain network built from the ground up based on sharding technology, featuring high performance and high security, but also infinite scalability. Of course these are not yet fully realized.
The high performance of Near is due to the Pos proof mechanism, and the infinite scalability is due to the use of sharding technology.
The advantages of the Pos proof mechanism need not be emphasized. The high-performance emerging public chains such as BNB Chain and Solana that have taken off in the past two years are the reason for the rise. This delegating all computation to a small set of nodes can be very efficient, but none of them are infinitely scalable because the computing power of the nodes is capped. In fact, BNB Chain and Solana have also had accidents that were suspended due to node downtime.
Therefore, sharding technology is particularly necessary. The solution is to divide a chain into countless chains, and then process their own data independently, which can relieve the pressure of a single chain.
The idea of Ethereum 2.0 (now called “Ethereum upgrade”) is the same as that of Near, and it also combines the Pos proof mechanism and sharding technology, but it is still far away from the ground (probably will not be realized in 2023), and until The specific technical route has not yet been determined.
Near has already landed. Although it is still in the second stage, it cannot achieve the originally announced infinite scalability and millions of TPS, but it is indeed progressing steadily as planned.
Rapidly iterative product roadmap
In fact, this is exactly what makes the Near team very valuable – it is not stuck in a grand narrative and can’t go online, but follows the MVP principle (Minimum Viable Product, the most simplified and feasible product), giving priority to the most basic functions, The product is adjusted in a timely manner based on feedback during this process.
Therefore, Near first built a simple internal test network and attracted developers to test through hackathons and seminars, and then launched the public test network and the main network one after another.
The Near team received a lot of feedback from developers during the testing phase, and realized that the complete sharding scheme designed at the beginning was not realistic, because the public chain did not need such a large capacity when it was launched (in fact, it has been the case until now), so The adjusted new plan is more pragmatic – divided into 4 stages to complete.
The mainnet was officially released on April 22, 2020, but there was no sharding at this time, and it was no different from other public chains.
The first step of sharding Phase 0, also known as “Simple Nightshade”, will not be taken until November 15, 2021. The sharding of Near in Phase 0 is incomplete, and the form is greater than the substance, because it only divides the Near blockchain into 4 shards, and it is only a state shard, that is, each shard only stores all the data in its own shard. data, but the actual computation is still handled by all nodes. This is no different from a single chain, and the real shard should be that each shard has its own node.
At the beginning of 2022, Near entered Phase 1 and introduced new roles Chunk-Only Producers (pure block producers), who only provide verification services for specific shards, which are equivalent to sharding nodes/miners. Note that only state verification is provided at this time, and it is not responsible for actual calculation processing. Therefore, the entry threshold is relatively low. The hardware can run on 4-core CPU, 8GB RAM and 200GB SSD storage. In addition, the pledged NEAR is also relatively small. You can directly purchase the corresponding service on AWS to mine.
Near is still in Phase 1, but it is planned to launch Phase 2 in the third quarter of 2022. At that time, not only state sharding, but also computing processing will be sharded. At this time, Near is a real sharded network, but it is still The originally claimed infinite scalability was not achieved because it also required dynamic provisioning between nodes of each shard.
It is expected that Near will enter Phase 3 by the fourth quarter of 2022, when dynamic sharding will be realized, that is, shards will be dynamically split and merged according to resource utilization. That is to say, the number of shards in Near is adjusted at any time according to the situation.
Replacing the beacon chain with “blocks”
Near’s sharding is not a beacon chain + sharding chain model like Ethereum 2.0 (similar to Polkadot’s relay chain + parachain), but directly divides the main network into countless shards.
Therefore, it can also be said conversely that all shards form a chain (called the main chain), and the “block” (block) generated by the main chain contains the “trunk” (trunk) of each shard, which is pure block production. the block verified by the author). A “block” is the global state of all “blocks”.
The reason why Near did not choose to use the beacon chain as the coordinator is because the beacon chain itself is a chain. As long as it is a chain, there is an upper limit of computing power, so the number of shard chains is limited (Polkadot’s slot Limited, Ethereum 2.0 shard chains are limited for the same reason).
Since Near does not have a beacon chain as a coordinator, how do shards communicate? The aforementioned “block” plays the role of the beacon chain to some extent.
Each “block” of the main chain has a corresponding verifier (that is, a pure block producer) on each shard. When verification is required, the “block” of the pure block producer on the shard is directly related to the entire main chain. “Block” verification will do.
It may be more intuitive to look at the sharding scheme directly from the contract point of view – if an operation involves multiple shards, then it needs to be verified on each shard in order. First form a new “block” in the first shard, and then transfer it to the second shard through the “block” to form the second “block”, and so on.
To sum up briefly, in order to solve the efficiency bottleneck of the blockchain network, the sharding technology allows multiple nodes to verify transactions on multiple shards. The same is true for Near’s sharding technology, but it goes a step further – the communication between shards does not require a total chain, but nodes are directly verified by “blocks”, so they are not affected by the upper limit of the total chain performance.
In addition, the nodes on the shard only need to verify the part of the main chain “block” corresponding to their own “block”, so the efficiency will be higher.
Replace “functional sharding” with “dynamic sharding”
The biggest selling point of Near’s sharding technology is infinite scalability. The aforementioned replacement of the beacon chain with “blocks” results in no upper limit of scalability. This is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition, because no upper limit is not defined. It does not mean that the upper limit can really be broken, just like no one Stopping you from being the richest man in the world doesn’t mean you can really be the richest man in the world.
The technological innovation that really brings infinite scalability is dynamic sharding, but before we discuss dynamic sharding formally, let’s take a look at other sharding schemes. Polkadot is also essentially a sharded network, which is also discussed in this article.
Polkadot’s solution is a relay chain + parachain that separates the state from the application. The relay chain is responsible for maintaining the network state, while other parachains focus on more customized application chains.
Ethereum 2.0 is also a beacon chain + shard chain model. It has been determined that the Ethereum main network will become a beacon chain, that is, a consensus layer coordination network. In addition, the goal of the first stage has also been determined – oriented by data availability, the shard chain essentially plays the role of the current Layer 2 of the ZK system, with a TPS of up to 100,000, and the security is equivalent to the Ethereum main network.
The goal of the second phase of Ethereum 2.0 is code execution oriented, each shard chain will be able to store and execute code and process transactions, and each shard will contain a unique set of smart contracts and account balances, equivalent to today’s Polkadot’s scheme.
However, the community is divided on the goals of the second phase, and no specific technical plan has been determined yet. Vitalik summarizes three possibilities:
1.) The sharding chain does not need state execution, it is only used as a database, and to put it bluntly, it stays in the first stage;
2.) State execution function is only added to a few shards, now a total of 64 shards are planned. This is a compromise between Phase 1 and Phase 2 goals;
3.) More on that later… The exact time depends on when the “concise non-interactive zero-knowledge argument” is validated, as it leads to smarter sharding, which is clearly still being researched at the moment.
Therefore, the sharding of Ethereum 2.0 is indeed still a long time away from the actual landing, although the official time is 2023.
When we look at the innovation of Near’s sharding technology now, it becomes very clear.
Near’s paradigm is completely different from any of the above. The commonality between Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0 is that each shard is an independent blockchain, while Near smashes shards, smashes nodes on shards, and smashes The smart contracts on the shards are sharded, and then dynamically assembled between these shards.
Or it may be more intuitive to look directly from the contract point of view – first, Near’s contract will be divided into many shards, and these shards will be allocated to different shards (dynamically evaluated according to the transaction volume and storage usage of different shards), When the number of resources of a shard exceeds a certain threshold, new shards will be added (so theoretically the number of shards is infinite), and vice versa.
Therefore, in Near’s sharding network, there is no fixed number of shards, no fixed nodes, and no nodes fixed on shards. If a chain is divided into 10 shards, the efficiency may be 1×10 times, while the efficiency of Near’s sharding technology is 1×10×10 times.
Half-push and half-finished operational logic
Near’s positioning determines that it will not be willing to become an Ethereum sidechain, but the status quo of the blockchain ecosystem must admit that Ethereum has accumulated the best quality developers, users and funds.
The rise of emerging public chains is inseparable from the value of taking over the overflow of Ethereum. Whether it is TRON or later BSC and Solana, they have not missed this wave of dividends (of course, long-term operation is another logic). Therefore, the emerging public chains that were awakened later also launched Ethereum EVM compatibility. Compared with the original grand vision, it was essentially reduced to the side chain of Ethereum, which was a last resort.
Near seems to be very late to face the gap with Ethereum until the launch of a bridge across Ethereum in April 2021 and the launch of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) Aurora in May, which is also an Ethereum built on the Near protocol. Layer 2.
The reason why Aurora is based on the Near protocol is that the underlying layer of Aurora uses the Near validator, so the speed and Gas are consistent with Near.
For Near, the role of Aurora is to introduce the resources of Ethereum to this Layer 2, and then seamlessly migrate to the Near ecosystem. In addition, with the blessing of the Rainbow Bridge, the multi-chain experience between Ethereum, Aurora and Near is even smoother.
Although Aurora missed the biggest dividend from the Ethereum overflow, it has performed well after its launch, whether it is an ecological project or an investment institution’s recognition, which is mainly due to the team’s operational capabilities. In the future, if Near’s sharding progresses smoothly, Aurora’s technical advantages will continue to increase.
The only question is, is Aurora really an Ethereum Layer 2? To be honest, it is more like a sidechain of Ethereum, just like Polygon, which also claims to be Layer 2 of Ethereum, is actually a sidechain disguised as Layer 2.
Although Near has begun to focus on the development of the ecology, the ecological rhythm must follow the technological rhythm, and according to the technological rhythm of Near, it is obviously not the time to really exert force. However, based on Aurora’s performance, we have reason to believe that Near’s operational level is at least similar to Aurora’s, and then the true ecology of Near can be brought about.
Octopus Network for Web3
If the launch of Aurora is a last resort for Near to deal with the current situation, Octpus Network is the “backer” to actively deploy the future.
Like Aurora, Octopus is also based on the Near protocol, that is, the bottom layer uses the Near validator, so it is almost the same as Near in terms of speed, gas and security.
Octopus does not directly serve the projects in the Near ecosystem, but a network with its own ecology and logic parasitizing Near.
To sum it up in the simplest image: Octopus tries to build a Polkadot (or Cosmos), and then uses Near as a relay chain (or Hub).
First of all, the services provided by Octopus are similar to those of Polkadot. They are a series of out-of-the-box technical solutions based on Substrate, allowing developers to issue chains with one click, and issue custom application chains (governance structure, economic design and underlying consensus algorithm). Wait).
Octopus Relay plays the same role as the Polkadot relay chain slot, that is, it is responsible for the security of these custom application chains, and it also needs to be rented for a fee, but Octopus Relay is not a chain, it is essentially a set of intelligence running on Near contract.
To solve the security, it is necessary to further solve the cross-chain requirements of these customized application chains and other customized application chains and other ecological blockchains. The medium provided by Octopus is various rainbow bridges, which will fully open up Ethereum, Near and Cosmos in the future. ecology.
As a competitor to Polkadot, Octopus has the advantage of being cheaper (Octopus’ Lisk is less than $100,000, while Polkadot is 40 times as much), and there is no quantity limit.
In addition, considering the rich cross-chain experience of the Octopus team, the future ecology may be more open than Polkadot. Of course, this is the icing on the cake. The core is the overflow value of its own ecology.
It is not difficult to find that Octopus has its own logic, and its narrative and Near’s core narrative are two parallel lines. Near obviously saves a lot of trouble for Octopus (a set of smart contracts can act as a relay chain), and Octopus also brings a potential larger space to Near, which is much larger than Aurora, because the latter only undertakes ether The value of Fang ecological overflow.
The core narrative of Near is infinite scalability, which is brought about by its unique and even subversive sharding technology, Nightshade Sharding – uniquely reflected in the use of “blocks” to replace the beacon chain, subversive in breaking our common sharding, sharding nodes, smart contracts, and atomically reshape a blockchain network dynamically.
In addition to the sharding technology, Near’s product route is also very clear – it is not stuck in a grand narrative and can’t go online, but realizes the blueprint in stages in rapid iteration.
In addition to the product line, the operation level is also very important. The operation rhythm of Near follows the product line. It has not yet reached the moment of real strength, but we can already feel the operation level of the team from the development of Aurora.
In addition, Near is also actively deploying a cross-chain network that has not yet arrived but is destined to be grand. Not only does Aurora, which can drain from Ethereum, but also Octopus, which can be benchmarked against Polkadot, and will face all Cosmos (IBC-based) ecosystems.
Of course, Aurora and Octopus aren’t Near’s core narrative, and Near’s long-term value ultimately depends on its core narrative — infinite scalability coming in late 2022 and how well it operates after that.
If Near’s core narrative is realized, then Aurora and Octopus can drain the flow. If it is not realized, then Near will form a reverse siphon effect with other ecosystems, and instead become the vampire.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/is-starting-to-take-off-to-reimagine-nears-narrative-of-infinite-scalability/
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.