On Wednesday, Ethereum completed one of the most significant steps toward enabling proof-of-stake (PoS) by successfully implementing the Merge on the Ropsten testnet. The Merge is a fundamental component of the consensus layer upgrade known as “Ethereum 2.0.”
During the Merge, Ethereum’s proof-of-work (PoW) chain merges with the PoS beacon chain. Now that this has been accomplished on Ropsten, Ethereum is well on its way to implementing the Merge on the mainnet.
Long-awaited and much anticipated
Currently, Ethereum, like Bitcoin, uses the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus process. The goal is to constantly expend your resources and energy on solving cryptographically difficult problems. If you succeed, you can add your block to the blockchain and profit from the block reward and transaction fees. Unfortunately, while PoW is highly secure, it can be very harmful to the environment.
PoS, on the other hand, completely virtualizes the mining process. You must lock up a certain number of ETH (32 ETH in Ethereum’s case) and gamble on the blocks you believe will be added next. When a block joins the blockchain, the successful validator receives a piece of the block reward. The switch from PoW to PoS will cut Ethereum’s energy consumption by 99.95%.
This transition has been long anticipated, and Ethereum has frequently faced social media scorn as a result of the slow pace of the upgrade. Ethereum core developers have claimed that the delayed pace is due to the Merge’s sheer complexity and the numerous changes required in Ethereum’s source code. Vitalik Buterin recently stated at a conference that while August is the target month for the mainnet Merge, there is a “risk of a delay.”
What Will Happen Next?
Prior to Ropsten, the Merge was successfully deployed on Ethereum’s shadow fork by the core developers. The shadow fork is a secret mainnet staging place for developers to test new features. After the Merge has been tested in Ropsten, it will be deployed in the Goerli and Seoplia testnets before being deployed in the mainnet.