A Look Into Sharding: What is it and How Does it Work?

The crypto world is growing, and as such, blockchains are increasingly facing scalability issues as crypto adoption increases. For instance, Bitcoin is currently the largest crypto market capitalist, and it completes more than 299 thousand transactions daily. Due to its vast growth, bitcoin’s network experiences regular downtimes. 

However, bitcoin is not the only blockchain with scalability issues; Ethereum, the second-largest crypto market capitalist, faces similar issues. The scalability problem is, therefore, menacing the entire crypto world and requires urgent solutions. 

A new algorithm dubbed sharding might be the answer to scalability questions that is on the rise. But what is sharding, and how does it work? Here is a complete guide on sharding.

Sharding in a Nutshell

Sharding, horizontal partitioning optimizes the database by breaking it down into smaller operationally independent chunks called shards. The shard’s independence means that the database’s operation can be spread across multiple servers, including computers, ultimately bolstering its storage and operational capacity. Horizontal partitioning is quite distinct from vertical partitioning, which adds more computing power to the machines, including RAM, and better CPU functionality.

The basic idea of database sharding is distributing the dataset operable in one node to several nodes. When applied to the blockchain, sharding bolsters the blockchain’s functionality and ends the year-round scalability menace. 

Take, for instance, the Bitcoin blockchain, which currently operates about five transactions per second. To improve Bitcoin’s transaction processing speed, developers can choose to break computations into different shards rather than focusing on increasing computing power. Then the Bitcoin developers will add more operational computers to serve the database. Using sharding in any blockchain will vastly increase the number of transactions per second. 

Although shards are independent, their continued working together boosts the functionality of the blockchain. Developers should ensure the entire database remains up to date with the most recent transactions.

Types of Sharding Techniques

  • Key Sharding

Key sharding, commonly known as hash sharding, uses the newly released hash value to determine the shard to place data. The release of a hash value occurs when a numbered input goes through a hash function. Key sharding distributes the data to bits, avoiding cases where relative values go into the same fragment. That utterly ensures that there are no hotspots, thus balancing the blockchains transaction processing.

  • Range Based Sharding

Range-based sharding is probably the most straightforward sharding algorithm to implement. It only involves dividing data or items based on a value range, i.e., price range, weight range, etc. However, this sharding doesn’t protect the uneven distribution of data. Thus the database will ultimately end up with hotspots that slow download database general operations.  

  • Geo Based Sharding

Geo sharding first involves the breakdown of data based on geological locations. After this breakdown, the database uses either of the two sharding techniques, as mentioned above, to create shards. 

Benefits of Sharding

Sharding comes with a vast array of benefits, foremost being its ability to provide an opportunity to add more machines. Adding machines ensures that there are no machine overloads since work is evenly distributed. 

Increased machines lead to faster transaction completion in the blockchain. Therefore, in Bitcoin’s case, the transaction per second would vastly increase if the platform decided to merge sharding techniques in the blockchain.

The independence of shards also comes with the benefit of the blockchain’s full dependability mainly because there are no blockchain downtimes. Non-Sharded databases on blockchains experience outages that lead to the unavailability of the whole platform. However, in sharded databases, if one shard experiences downtime, the rest remain functional.

Another core benefit of the sharding technique is the overall security of the sharded platform. Hackers will never fully access the full database; instead, they’ll control a single shard while the rest enjoy services. 

Disadvantages of Sharding

Although this technique is promising for blockchains, it comes with several disadvantages. Foremost is that users may lose important information since system backups that existed on earlier non-sharded databases are unusable in a sharded database. 

Moreover, depending on the attributes or techniques used, sharding may bring about an imbalance of blockchain service provision. For instance, some database shards with fewer users will operate faster than the hotspots with more users, leading to the database’s partial unreliability.

The complexity of implementing sharding techniques is also another thing that hinders its adoption. Additionally, sharding can lead to the rise of security concerns commonly referred to as a shard takeover, where one shard attacks another.

Bottom Line

Although many blockchains, especially giant ones, face scalability problems, merging sharding onto their databases could help end the crisis. The technique works by distributing data into small independent partitions which are operable in other computers. Sharding comes in different forms, including key, range, and geo sharding, all with the advantage of increasing resources for operational efficiency.

Moreover, sharding ensures maximized speed and complete reliability of the blockchain by mitigating the chances of downtimes. However, sharding comes with its fair share of challenges including complexity, and imbalance in providing services. 

Bitcoin live price
price change

Several blockchains, including Ethereum, are still unable to introduce the technique in their blockchains formally. Whether to use or not to use sharding in blockchains is a question of the benefits vs. the cons. 

Stay up to date with our latest articles

More posts

What Is CBDC In Crypto?

The cryptocurrency trading revolution exploded more than ten years ago and led to an almost unprecedented economic and financial earthquake. As a result, people are learning to change their approach to payment and investment systems, pushing up the price of many cryptocurrencies. Such a rapid change has not gone unnoticed on the boards of the world's major central banks. In fact, in an increasing number of countries, central banks are working on launching centralized digital currencies, known as CBDC. This…

How Social Leaders on Shrimpy help Investors Maximize Profits from Crypto Trading

The emerging trend of social trading allows millions of investors to interact with their peers and learn from accomplished traders in the crypto market. Every market participant wants to become a profitable crypto trader and maximize earnings from the ongoing crypto boom. Unfortunately, navigating the highly volatile space while grasping the complex learning curve that involves fundamental/technical analysis can be rather daunting. Becoming successful in the crypto market requires time to develop a working strategy that empowers investors to execute…

Decentralized Exchanges 2022: Which is the Best Crypto DEX to Trade on?

Market experts believe that the survival and growth of crypto largely depend on decentralization. The good news is that decentralized exchanges or DEXs have become highly popular, and the crypto market sees this as an opportunity to save the essence of traditional blockchain. Each decentralized exchange platform has the potential to revive and thrive crypto market. Moreover, each new DEX platform comes with its own set of features. There are several methods to use DEXs and make money.  Decentralized exchange…

Top Crypto Exchanges for Beginners in 2022

Investing in crypto is not as complex as most people think. So if you’re curious and optimistic about the rise of crypto, there is no reason to hold back and dive into it. Remember, it is normal for beginner investors to get caught in the cobweb of endless crypto exchanges. As a beginner investor, your objective should focus on the best crypto exchanges to make the right investment decisions. Whether it’s Bitcoin or Ethereum, cryptocurrencies continue to be at the…

Top 10 Cryptocurrencies in January 2022

Cryptocurrencies had a great year in 2021. In this period, we have seen the market go from being classified as a billion-dollar economy into a trillion-dollar economy. Aside from that, cryptocurrencies are gaining visibility in the mainstream world with, for example, El Salvador's adoption of Bitcoin as the official digital currency. As a result, investors are looking for the "new Bitcoin" on the market, hoping to find a great alternative in so-called altcoins. Unfortunately, many traders value an altcoin exclusively…

The Story Of Bitcoin And Ethereum’s Reversed Blockchains

Decentralization is the primary selling point of the three worlds of Bitcoin, crypto, and the web. There are several reasons for this. Some are related to the increased transactional efficiency that decentralization can provide. Others are related to creating permissionless, censorship-resistant digital networks. The most important is that decentralization weakens any single-point-of-failure, hence bolstering network security. This not only keeps a network as close to unbiased and ‘neutral’ as possible but almost guarantees its immutability. Yet the crypto world hasn’t…

What Are the Best Crypto Prediction Sites?

There are now several websites that provide, besides crypto live prices, some forecasts on the future of the leading cryptocurrencies. However, considering the market’s high volatility and the few analysis tools available to the public for formulating these forecasts, it must monitor these portals carefully. This article will report some of the primary sources of price forecasts in the crypto industry. However, we remind you that the information contained in the text does not constitute financial advice, and we invite…

Why Do the Cryptocurrency Prices Go Down on the Weekends?

If you have been in the crypto world for a while, you will probably have noticed a typical behaviour of the market during weekends. With some exceptions, we are used to seeing the price of significant cryptocurrencies drop over the weekend. The phenomenon is known to those who operate in this market, but understanding precisely the causes seems to be rather complex. Therefore, this article will discuss a definitive answer by analyzing the various main factors involved in this market…

How to Track and Stay Updated with Cryptocurrency News

Cryptocurrency is a young market and, as such, very fast-moving. If we exclude the phenomenon of stablecoins, the prices of cryptocurrencies change continuously, with sometimes very high volatility. Since a volatile investment is, by definition, a risky operation, traders usually look for ways to reduce the possibility of incurring significant money losses. In this context, it is vital to stay up to date with market events, even if this can be complex. As seen in the past, a single tweet…

Keeping Consensus: Explaining Ethereum’s Difficulty Bomb

Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is a tool for maintaining network consensus between all classes of participants. This is a challenging task for Ethereum compared to Bitcoin, which performs frequent backwards-incompatible hard-forks. The most significant of these – Ethereum 2.0 – is yet to come. When it does, the difficulty bomb will be crucial in ensuring the community’s smooth transition to the new protocol. Review: Ethereum 2.0 and Proof Of Stake To understand the necessity of the bomb, we must review some…