A major upgrade for the Ethereum (ETH) network just got another update on its calendar as an important step towards a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, the Merge, is now expected to happen in May or June next year.
The necessary code could be completed by February, according to the Ethereum Foundation community manager Tim Beiko and other developers. The Merge refers to the event on the Ethereum 2.0 path when the current Ethereum mainnet “merges” with the beacon chain PoS system.
“We think ~4 months is a generous timeframe from having the code done to seeing the merge on mainnet. We think there’s a chance [that the code being done] can [happen] by February (obviously, still a lot of unknowns!), so we decided to set the [difficulty] bomb based on that,” Beiko said.
What he is referring to here is the difficulty bomb, aka the ice age, which will make Ethereum impossible to mine, and which was supposed to go off in December (the so-called Arrow Glacier upgrade). It was last delayed in August during the London upgrade, and it is going to be further pushed back to June 2022.
“To be clear, if the merge was ready before, we could do it prior to that,” said Beiko. The bomb can be pushed back again if the developers are not ready, which will be discussed in a call around February, suggested Beiko, but they are aiming to have only one delay.
“This strikes a balance between keeping the momentum going, ideally not pushing back the bomb twice, and having some buffer room for a longer than usual rollout and/or large hashrate changes on the network,” he argued. That said, all participants agreed that the most important thing is having a safe, well-tested merge, so “we’re OK pushing the bomb back twice if that is required.”
Per Beiko, there is a lot of work to be done when planning for “disaster recovery” cases, which is quite hard to estimate. The difficulty bomb is based on the current network hashrate, so if the hashrate falls rapidly before the Merge – as miners want to sell their mining rigs – it may accelerate the advent of the bomb and may show up weeks earlier.
The Amphora milestones
During a call on September 15, the team also went through the points made during Amphora. This was a face-to-face workshop done a week prior with a goal to get the execution and consensus layer client teams to “iron out issues” in the specification and reach a set of development milestones, as Beiko’s report said. “The Amphora Milestones aimed to first get clients conforming with the spec, then gradually adding more complexity and finally growing the amount of other clients they could interoperate with.”
The milestones outlined for the event were met, and the event itself is said to be a success. Client teams now have a clear list of tasks that they need to work towards, wrote Beiko, “and enough progress has been made to begin reaching out to a larger segment of the Ethereum community.”
Furthermore, per his tweet, a more stable version of the Amphora devnet, Pithos, was launched on October 14. The network is live so the community should expect public calls “exploring how developer tools and other core Ethereum infrastructure can best prepare” for the proof-of-work (PoW) to PoS transition. Amphora helped client teams and researchers identify certain issues which they will [be] fixing, in addition to responding to community feedback. “Within a few weeks the spec should be finalized and, soon after, a new stable testnet made available,” said Beiko.
At 10:49 UTC, ETH was trading at USD 3,792 and was down by 3% in a day, trimming its weekly gains to less than 11%.
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