Recently, there has been growing number of proposals for the illusive sharding system in Ethereum and developers had been wondering whether the ongoing shifting of sharding timeline will render their contributions useless. In an attempt to ease their anxiety, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has unveiled what he calls a minimum sharding protocol.
In a sharding system, users are skilled in “shards,” blockchains that act as “galaxies” unto themselves, which communicate with the main chain but are distinct from it. This way, rather than millions of users conducting all their transactions on the base layer, as is currently the case, there are many shards, each of which supports thousands of users and processes their transactions internally. These walled-off galaxies are maintained by a single “validator manager contract” (VMC) on the main chain.
What Is Sharding?
To leave out the technical jargon, Sharding is a means to help blockchains scale up their capacity in order to be able to process many transactions by many users. They have developed a pared-down version of the future project which will be significantly more secure, scalable and market ready. Building this out basically entails building out more than two-thirds of the “hard infrastructure” required to make sharding work: the p2p network, shard shuffling, light client protocols, committee selection, etc. So it's extremely useful as a stepping stone. The goal is to parallelize finalization of the sharding spec and development of core components that we know are going to be used anyway.
However, there is no timeline for the development of the project. No concrete decisions are going to be taken till the developers build a skeletal version of a shading system and the Ethereum community is able to produce a precise version of how sharding protocol will work.