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Ethereum is reportedly one step closer to becoming a PoS (Proof-of-Stake) blockchain, after its oldest testnet – Ropsten – successfully merged its PoW (proof-of-work) execution layer with the PoS Beacon Chain in a process that is identical to the one that the Ethereum Mainnet will undergo in the future.
Testnets are networks where smart contract developers can “test” things out before a project is deployed on the Ethereum blockchain (the Mainnet). They are also used to stimulate modifications that might be made to the Mainnet itself. The four main Ethereum testnets are Rinkeby, Kovan, Ropsten, and Goerli.
Ethereum’s transition from a PoW to PoS blockchain, dubbed as Ethereum 2.0 or Ethereum Consensus Layer, will significantly improve its scalability. The first phase of the upgrade, known as Phase 0, has already gone live via the Beacon Chain, a foundational network that introduces PoS to Ethereum and exists in parallel with Ethereum’s mainnet.
However, because the Beacon Chain is not smart contract enabled, it will eventually have to be merged (in the second phase known as The Merge) with Ethereum’s mainnet for the entire ecosystem to fully operate as a single, smart contract-enabled PoS network.
Still too slow?
It was previously estimated that the The Merge will only be completed in the second quarter of 2022. However, the rollout has been constantly plagued by delays.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin himself has said that post sharding (whereby the network is broken down into smaller individual chains known as “shards”), the Ethereum Consensus Layer upgrade will only be completed by 80%. The entire roadmap could well take another six years to complete and only then would it lead to 100% optimisation.
At the recent Dcentral conference held in Austin, Texas, Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson – one of the five original founders of Ethereum – said that it is likely that Ethereum 2.0 will only be launched in 2024, with “Eth 1.5” already developed and known as Polkadot.