Being an engineer on Ethereum is like an engineer on NASA. If there is a single mistake, the rocket can explode in flight., according to the metaphor of Marc Zeller, responsible for developer relations within the Aave protocol. It is the first time that a blockchain that is how important the consensus will gradually change. Originally slated for 2019, the “The Merge” update has been pushed back in succession since then. Largely because a single minor code error blockchain currently the most widely used at the origin of the popularization of smart contracts and NFTs and manages several hundred billion dollars. But also hosting giants of decentralized finance such as Aave and Curve.
For example, large-scale tests have been carried out on parallel networks for more than two and a half years. This prevents investors’ money or the very existence of the blockchain† The June 8 test was significant because Ropsten is a parallel network, a “testnet” in developer jargon, operating as proof of work, and one of the oldest in the Ethereum ecosystem. The migration to a proof-of-stake system has worked, although Tim Beiko, one of the developers working on Ethereum, has revealed some minor flaws, which should be ironed out in the coming weeks. “It was the closest test to reality of what will happen when Ethereum becomes fully proof-of-stake. All in all went well”explains Marc Zeller.
Two more crucial tests are expected in the coming weeks, the names Sepolia and Goerli. Then nothing will oppose the amendment of the protocol, which could take place as early as August next year.
The end of the great quest for ESG
Ethereum will therefore change the way it validates its blocks. Currently, the blockchain works with a proof-of-work system (proof of workPoW): The miners’ graphics cards are involved in a competition to find a series of numbers and thus win the right to record the transactions in the blocks of the blockchain, and in return they receive a monetary reward. With the new system, proof-of-stake (proof of commitment, PoS), miners become “validators” and earn the right to create the blocks by immobilizing 32 of their ethers within the protocol. A whistleblower policy is then put in place to ensure that all validators are doing their job properly. If the rules are broken, stored ethers can be confiscated or destroyed. Currently, the blockchain has over 100,000 validators.
This protocol change, driven largely by the figurehead and co-founder of the Ethereum network, Vitalik Buterin, will blockchain to reduce energy consumption by about 99%. And thus avoid in the future the recurring discussions about energy consumption that affect the world of crypto. Criticisms regularly faced with the blockchain Bitcoin, whose proponents believe its energy consumption is the price of its decentralization and security.
Evidence of work on Ethereum was less efficient in terms of security and power consumption than that of Bitcoin, Vitalik Buterin believed from the outset that this mode of block validation was a temporary solution, pending a consensus that requires less electricity to operate . The Ethereum co-founder also wanted to avoid an industrialization of mining on Ethereum, as is currently the case since 2013 on Bitcoin.
Once these power consumption issues are resolved with “The Merge”, another update on Ethereum will be eagerly anticipated: the EIP 4844. It’s a higher tier that notably “layers 2”, these kinds of subnets, such as Starknet, Arbitrum or Optimism, to perform better. And thus improve Ethereum’s ability to grow by increasing the number of possible operations on the network from about fifteen per second to several thousand, in hopes of lowering the cost of these transactions.