Near Protocol has seen a lot of activity. The project has made a reputation for itself via continual innovation and a proactive team. According to a recent announcement, NEAR has begun phase 0 of its journey to a fully sharded blockchain. This phase, dubbed Simple Nightshade, will kick off a year of improvements and additions to the NEAR blockchain that, when finished, will make it super-fast, highly safe, and capable of seamlessly integrating millions of users into the world of Web3.
What is NightShade? What does it do?
When it comes to security, scaling, and decentralisation, NEAR Protocol came up with the concept for the NightShade, which is a hybrid of two separate blockchain security models: one that acts as a single blockchain by nature but scales as a sharded blockchain by design. NightShade’s hybrid consensus mechanism is based on Ethereum 2.0 and Polkadot, but it is not identical to any of them; rather, it aims to develop something that is more advanced.
Assigning block producers to each shard is the initial task of Nightshade, and stopping corruption is accomplished by rotating block producers across shards after each epoch (An epoch is a time period that is given to a group of miners to serve as the consensus group.).
All shard block producers must meet the following requirements: they must collectively create blocks on the main chain, Forks should be avoided, the state transition function correctly applied, and all chunks should be available for some time after the block has been generated where a single block producer cannot alone provide the aforementioned security features.
NighShade launch in Phases
NighShade won’t be deployed all at once, and like almost all other blockchains, the upgrades will come in different phases. As of now, the project is set to launch Phase 0.
Near Protocol Devs will shard the state, but not processing, in this early phase. They want to split the present state into four pieces while keeping all validators updated on the progress of each Shard. Despite this, the Network’s throughput will rise dramatically.
In the future, dynamic resharding will be developed on top of this system to break a shard into multiple parts through live updates. While this is going on, the security guarantees remain the same since each shard is still verified by all validators. Phase 0 of the project is scheduled to begin in November of that year.
When Near Protocol is in Phase 1, a new role called a chunk-only producer will be introduced. These producers will only validate one shard. They create chunks (shard blocks) for a given shard and only require low-cost hardware to do it. They have no impact on the chain’s security because they don’t create blocks or participate in approvals.
It will also assist to enhance the total number of validators and strengthen NEAR’s decentralisation in general with the introduction of chunk-only producers At that point, Near Protocol will have between 200 and 400 validators with just a small percentage needing to use more expensive hardware. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in January 2022, according to the team.
By the end of Phase 2, no validators will be required to keep track of any shards, as the project will have finished implementing the challenges. State and processing will be fully sharded when this phase is complete. The hardware requirements for hosting a block producer on NEAR will be reduced as a result, making the network more accessible to validators. NEAR block producers Phase 2 is set to begin in the third quarter of 2022.
Near Protocol will feature a sharded mainnet with a set number of shards after phase 2 is completed. During the third phase of the project, the network will be able to dynamically divide and combine shards based on resource use. Thus, NEAR will be able to handle short-term use spikes much better. The third and final phase is expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of 2022.
Going green with NEAR Protocol
Besides all the innovation that has been made, NEAR protocol was also awarded the Climate Neutral Product Label from South Pole.
South Pole calculated the carbon footprint of the NEAR Protocol by taking into account the emissions of the NEAR Foundation, the NEAR Core Collective, the NEAR Validators, and the Protocol’s use phase (NEAR users initiating transactions).
The scope of the footprint accounting, in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Standard, included both direct and indirect emissions associated with the NEAR Protocol: everything from electricity use, heating, and cooling, to purchased goods and services such as hardware and cloud services, to generated waste, as well as travel, commuting, and teleworking activities. Data that was not centralised was polled, and South Pole critically examined the feedback and data before calculating NEAR’s carbon footprint based on these inputs.
While NEAR’s footprint is likely to grow in the future, both validator activity and usage phase are expected to remain well below the massive climate footprint of proof-of-work networks. This data gives credibility to the argument that proof-of-stake is a more environmentally friendly option than proof-of-work.
As a result, by pioneering climate-friendly solutions, NEAR Protocol draws like-minded individuals who want to commit to helping the climate as well.
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