NEAR Blockchain Completes Phase One of Sharding Upgrade

Near, a Layer 1 protocol, has begun a critical phase of its “sharding” upgrade, which aims to increase the blockchain’s processing speed, and has reduced the price for stakeholders who want to influence how the network operates.

Near, which launched in 2019 with unrealized plans to boost transaction speeds by splitting its network into parallel processors (sharding), has begun Phase 1 of its “Nightshade” playbook, which is facilitated by Near contributor Pagoda. During this phase, specialized “chunk-only validators” are introduced, which feed into the sharding mechanism but are easier to set up than full nodes.

The changes, when combined with an 86% reduction in collateral requirements for all participants in the proof-of-stake chain, aim to significantly lower the barrier to entry for Near validators and thus increase decentralization. “The more users there are on the network, the more decentralized it becomes,” Near co-founder Illia Polosukhin explained. This enables us to continue adding validators as the network grows in popularity.

According to a press release from Pagoda, the changes could result in 200 more validators joining the network’s existing 100. In an interview with CoinDesk, Polosukhin stated that Near “will go from 100 to 300 active” validators. Regardless, Polosukhin claims that the new validators will increase Near’s decentralization.

Sharding is a chain-splicing mechanism used by Near to increase the network’s output. According to Polosukhin, dividing the chain into smaller chains allows the network to process transactions more efficiently.

Nightshade, a four-step program developed by Near, will be used to shard the network. It began Phase 0 of network sharding earlier this year and will complete the remaining phases of the upgrade in 2023.

Because of its cheaper and faster transactions, Near, a proof-of-stake layer 1, has historically been viewed as a threat to Ethereum. The upcoming Merge, which will transition the network from its current proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake, will, however, bring competition back into the spotlight.

Near’s vision has been “aligned” with Ethereum since the chain’s development in 2018, according to Polosukhin, but it hasn’t “delivered on scalability. “Near seeks to create a scalable, efficient network for those who interact in the ecosystem through its sharding upgrades.”

“Near’s vision is that throughput should not be limited,” Polosukhin explained.”By adding more capacity, you should be able to continue expanding demand.”


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