Ethereum developers completed a significant milestone towards Ethereum’s eventual full transition to a proof-of-stake blockchain on June 8, by merging the Ropsten testnet’s original proof-of-work chain with its new proof-of-stake chain:
The planned merge of the Ropsten testnet was first announced on June 3, when it was described by Ethereum developer Tim Beiko as a “dress rehearsal for node operators”.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has previously said that if all goes well with the Ropsten merge, he anticipates the mainnet merge will take place around August of this year.
Merge Will Reduce Energy Use by Orders of Magnitude
Ethereum is currently a proof-of-work chain, which means miners use large amounts of energy to solve complex mathematical puzzles to verify new transactions, in the process earning ETH. This process is energy-intensive, largely due to the fact that the energy used by miners that don’t solve the puzzles is essentially wasted.
Once the network transitions to proof-of-stake, there will no longer be miners – they’ll be replaced by validators. Validators will also verify transactions, but rather than relying on massive computing power to do so, validators will be selected based on the amount of ETH they’ve staked and the duration they’ve staked it.
It’s estimated the switch to proof-of-stake could reduce Ethereum’s energy use by up to 99.95 percent.
Buterin Optimistic About Mainnet Merge
Speaking on a livestream before the Ropsten merge, Buterin was hopeful that a smooth test merge would demonstrate how far the developers have progressed along the path towards proof-of-stake, and suggested if all goes well the upgrade could be applied to mainnet fairly easily:
We’re hoping it’s going to be a good demonstration of just how far we’ve come. If everything goes well, it basically means that we’re just a bit of polishing away from the merge being able to happen on mainnet.Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder
Ropsten is Ethereum’s oldest testnet and is considered the testnet most similar to the Ethereum mainnet, meaning that theoretically any changes on Ropsten should transfer smoothly to mainnet.
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