Ethereum’s developers appear to be hastening the network’s shift toward Proof-of-Stake consensus and away from the Proof-of-Work mining community.
On March 11, developer “Mikhail Kalinin” published specifications for Eth2’s future blockchain merge with the existing Ethereum network. The documentation notes the consensus upgrade from PoS to PoW will be the core change enacted.
6. This is usually called the “merge” – when the existing Ethereum network will swap over to using the Beacon chain, instead of Proof of Work.
There’s growing consensus that the merge ought to be prioritized as the next step, see e.g. https://t.co/JlgD1S3GrY
— Josh Stark (@0xstark) March 11, 2021
The publication of specs comes as tensions between Ethereum miners and developers ramp up. Miners stand to lose significant revenue with the transition to proof-of-stake, while Ethereum’s developers are keen to ameliorate the persistently high fees and congestion on Ethereum.
Last week, Cointelegraph reported that Ethereum’s core developers had scheduled to implement Ethereum Improvement Proposal-1559 in July, which will replace Ethereuem’s existing fee market with a flat price and burn mechanism.
While the proposal is expected to discipline Ethereum’s surging fees, 1559 could reduce miner revenue by as much as 50%. As such, some miners responded to the news by planning a “show of force,” advocating for Ethereum miners to redirect their hash power to the 1559-opposed mining pool Ethermine for 51 hours on April 1.
However, the core developers appear to have been prepared for the miner-backlash. Last month, Ethereum co-creator, Vitalik Buterin said on Chinese social media (reposted by Wu Blockchain) that if miners threaten a 51% attack, “we will all move to PoS as soon as possible.”
Developers also paired EIP-1559 with a delay to the difficulty bomb in July’s London upgrade in order to make a hard fork less likely. And as Redditor Always_Question pointed out in a Reddit post arguing for the Merge to be prioritized: “Having the Merge at the ready provides a fallback for the community should a cartel of miners collude to neutralize the positive effects of EIP 1559.”
Earlier this week, Buterin revealed that Eth2’s developers have been prioritizing the chain merge over implementing sharding, with his comments on Chinese social media suggesting the focus on merging may be motivated by a desire to minimize the potential impacts of resistance from miners.
Ethereum miner rebellion will likely force #ethereum 2.0 to happen even sooner than expected. This is a good thing.
— Lark Davis (@TheCryptoLark) March 11, 2021
Buterin also noted that second-layer scaling solutions will launch in the coming months. Predicting that Optimism’s rollups will facilitate an increase in transactional throughput by a factor of 100, Buterin asserted that layer-two solutions will sufficiently scale Ethereum until sharding is implemented.
Ray Schuetz received a Masters Degree in computer science from The University of Texas (Austin). Ray has been working as a full-time blockchain consultant for the past 3 years. In his spare time, Ray enjoys writing for EthereumCryptocurrency.com and other crypto news publications.