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  • J Markezic and M Bacina

The Ethereum Merge is nearly here

Ethereum - one of the leading blockchains - has announced that their long process of transitioning from a proof-of-work (POW) consensus algorithm mechanism to proof-of-stake (POS) is almost here. The transition signals Ethereum's goal of increased scalability and maturity.

Ethereum has earmarked late-August, early-September as the merge event. Developers have, however, been conducting final stage testing on shadow forks, devnets and merges on deprecated public testnets to clear the pathway and test for issues.

Sepolia and Ropsten - two public testnets - have already successfully implemented the merge upgrade. Goerli - the testnet associated with Beacon Chain, Prater - is yet to transition. It will be after the Goerli and Prater merge, that the Ethereum mainnet will be next for a transition to POS.

A recent post on the Ethereum Foundation Blog, Ethereum developers confirmed that the Goerli and Prater testnets will run through the merge on 6-12 August 2022 as soon as the Bellatrix Prater upgrade becomes activated and hits a total difficulty of 10790000.

The Ethereum Foundation's blog post also addressed how mining will change post-merge:

Post-merge, validators need to ensure that transactions in blocks that they create and attest to are valid. To do this, each beacon node must be paired with an execution layer client. Note that multiple validators can still be paired to a single beacon node & execution layer client combo. While this expands validators’ responsibilities, it also gives a validator who proposes a block the right to its associated transaction priority fees (which currently go to miners).

The Goerli merge will occur in over a two-step process: the first step being the Prater upgrade (Bellatrix) on the consensus layer, and the second step being the transition of the execution layer from POW to POS - a process dubbed 'Paris.'

Post-merge, Ethereum should become considerably more energy friendly (eliminating a common complaint about permissionless blockchain systems) and bring exciting projects through which previously had been restricted in a proof-of-work world, including the introduction of sharding.

The merge is one of the most ambitious and watched public blockchain upgrades and is a strong sign of the future of permissionless public blockchain infrastructure.


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