Content delivery network Cloudflare has said that it will run Ethereum 2.0 nodes to help “build a better internet”.
Decentralised app platform Ethereum aims to be the foundation of web3. How does web3 differ from previous eras? Glad you asked.
- Web1 (~1990-2005) – Based on open protocols, decentralised, and community-governed. However, relatively basic in terms of functionality.
- Web2 (~2005-present) – Siloed, centralised services with value and content ownership granted to a handful of large companies. Far more advanced in functionality but also subject to digital authoritarianism.
- Web3 (present-) – Aims to combine the decentralisation and ideals of web1 with the more advanced functionality of web2.
Ethereum is currently transitioning from the energy-intensive Proof of Work algorithm used by Bitcoin to the far more environmentally-friendly Proof of Stake.
In a blog post, Cloudflare wrote:
“At Cloudflare, we are committed to helping to build a better Internet. That commitment balances technology and impact. The impact of certain older blockchain technologies on the environment has been challenging.
The Proof of Work (PoW) consensus systems that secure many blockchains were instrumental in the bootstrapping of the web3 ecosystem. However, these systems do not scale well with the usage rates we see today.”
Ethereum 2.0 is currently live as a ‘beacon chain’ but cannot run decentralised applications (dapps). Around Q3/Q4 2022, ‘The Merge’ is due to occur when the Ethereum mainnet merges with the beacon chain and allows for dapps to be run on the new Proof of Stake blockchain.
Following The Merge, the entire Ethereum network is estimated to use as little as 2.6 megawatts of power—99.5 percent less than today.
“Cloudflare is going to participate in the research and development of the core infrastructure that helps keep Ethereum secure, fast, as well as energy-efficient for everyone,” the company explained.
Over the next few months, Cloudflare intends to launch – and fully stake – Ethereum validator nodes that will contribute to keeping the platform running.
“At Cloudflare, we often take experimental bets on the future of the Internet to help new technologies gain maturity and stability and for us to gain deep understanding of them,” the company wrote.
“Over the last two years, there has been a rapid increase in the use of the underlying technologies that power web3. This growth has been a catalyst for a generation of startups.”
Ethereum itself is facing increasing competition from innovative rivals that already use Proof of Stake (or similarly efficient algorithms) and promise to overcome the largest dapp platform’s slow transaction speeds and high fees. Cloudflare notes several leading competitors in its blog post.
“The next generation of blockchains like Flow, Avalanche, Solana, as well as Polygon are being developed and adopted by major companies like Meta.”
Ethereum continues to dominate in active developers, recognition, number of dapps, and investment. However, Solana and Polygon already have more daily transactions and others are catching up fast as frustrations with Ethereum grow.
The Merge really marks just the start of a multi-year effort to get Ethereum to scale to meet the demands of the modern web and without such high fees. While advocates say rivals typically sacrifice some decentralisation, many users seem happy to compromise for a web3 platform that’s ready today.
For now, it seems Cloudflare is putting its faith in Ethereum retaining its lead.
(Image Credit: Cloudflare)
Related: Web 3.0 is on the horizon and Dish aims to embrace it
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