‘No crazy bug’: Here’s the latest on the Ethereum merge

The shift from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake protocol will speed up transactions and greatly reduce the amount of energy used by the blockchain.

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Key points

  • Ethereum’s test run on its upcoming merge encountered only minor issues
  • The transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake requires far less computing power to verify transactions
  • People wishing to serve as validators on the blockchain will need to stake 32 Ether

Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) is inching towards the ‘merge’ finish line, having just completed a successful test run.

Ether is the second-largest crypto by market cap, trailing only Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC). However, the Ethereum blockchain is the most used in the world.

Unfortunately, that blockchain also uses a tremendous amount of energy. Like Bitcoin, it employs a proof-of-work protocol to verify transactions and create more tokens. Proof-of-work requires immense computing power across an array of machines.

The so-called merge will see Ethereum shift to a proof-of-stake protocol. This will see validators stake their own Ether to verify transactions and create new tokens. And it will not only speed up transactions, but it will also hugely decrease the amount of required electricity.

A good plan.

Yet one that’s seen years of difficulties and setbacks coming to fruition.

What happened with the merge test?

The dry run carried out on Wednesday indicated that the merge works on a testnet where, as the name implies, developers test new processes before implementing them on the mainnet.

According to Auston Bunsen, co-founder of QuikNode (courtesy of CNBC), “There was no crazy bug that happened. Everything went as smooth as it could be.”

Tim Beiko, the coordinator for Ethereum’s protocol developers, noted that they did encounter “some minor known issues”. But he added that those will be looked into before the next steps of the merge are discussed.

The Ethereum beacon chain

The proof-of-stake protocol tests are being done on what’s known as the beacon chain.

According to Beiko (quoted by CNBC):

We knew that there would be a lot of technical work to address things like the increased centralisation that we see in other proof-of-stake systems. We’ve achieved that with the beacon chain…

At each testnet, we expect the code to be closer to what will be used on the Ethereum mainnet. We’re looking for less friction every time. Hopefully the minor issues we’ve seen today are resolved by the time we upgrade the next testnet.

No action needed by Ethereum users

“Users should be aware that Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake requires no action on their part unless they are a validator on the network. The transition also won’t create any new Ethereum tokens,” Beiko added.

The latest proof-of-stake plan requires people interested in being a validator to stake 32 Ether. That’s just over US$57,600 at current prices.

The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Bitcoin and Ethereum. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Bitcoin and Ethereum. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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