If the planned trial update on the Ropsten public testnet proceeds as planned later today, Ethereum’s Merge—the blockchain’s much-anticipated move from its current proof-of-work (PoW) mechanism to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm—will be one step closer.
Ropsten is Ethereum’s oldest testnet, having been launched in 2016. It enables for blockchain development testing prior to deployment on the mainnet. It is similar to the mainnet, just as other testnets are, with the exception that no “actual” funds are at risk if any technical issues arise.
On May 18, Ethereum core developer Terence Tsao reported that the configuration for Ropsten’s Beacon Chain—a PoS network that runs alongside Ethereum’s mainnet—had been merged and that client releases should be coming soon.
Following that, on May 30, another Ethereum developer, Tim Beiko, announced the launch of a new beacon chain, and on June 2, the Bellatrix upgrade—one of the two essential prerequisites for the Ropsten testnet Merge—was triggered.
The developers also had to choose the “Terminal Total Difficulty” (TTD)—a pre-determined difficulty value at which the Ropsten Merge occurs—which they accomplished the next day, setting it to 50 quadrillion.
The high amount was decided “because of the low PoW hash rate on testnets, and the risk of The Merge occurring before the network was ready with the Bellatrix update,” Beiko explained.
Lighthouse, Lodestar, Prysm, Nimbus, Teku, Besu, Erigon, go-ethereum (geth), and Nethermind are among the client software projects participating in the Ropsten Merge, according to the Ethereum Foundation’s blog post.
In other words, it gives developers a sneak peek into what things will be like in the future when Ethereum ultimately switches to a less energy-intensive PoS computational method. And it’s evident that a successful Merge on the testnet will pave the way for the Ethereum mainnet’s changeover.
Last month, Ethereum Core engineer Preston van Loon noted, “Merging Ropsten is a key testing milestone towards Ethereum’s mainnet Merge later this year.”
However, this procedure has been in the works for several years, with frequent delays infuriating the community and investors.
The new PoS model is intended to address some of Ethereum’s most pressing issues, including high transaction costs and the network’s ability to scale, so the stakes are high, with the biggest upgrade in Ethereum’s history — if successful — having a good chance of becoming the crypto industry’s event of the year.