Ethereum The Merge is here! Here is what you need to know
The Ethereum blockchain merge is underway, and will likely happen between around the 16th of September. Google has officially added a timer, so you can keep track of its expected merge date. The merge is a big happening and is the single most anticipated event in the crypto space in recent months.
What exactly is the Ethereum merge?
The merge represents the Ethereum network`s shift from Proof of Work (PoW), to Proof of Stake (PoS). This means that the underlying fundamental system in which the way transactions will be verified will change drastically.
Why is it called a merge?
Currently Ethereum is operating on its initial mechanism. In 2020 Ethereum already released a PoS network, which is called the Beacon Chain. It is not being used for processing transactions yet. It has thus far functioning as a staging area to prepare for the upgrade. In order for Ethereum`s full transition to PoS requires the Beacon Chain to be merged with Ethereum`s mainnet. And that merge will happen very soon
PoW vs PoS in depth
Currently, Ethereum validates transactions based on the PoW method, which means that Ethereum miners put their resources and equipment to use in order to solve complex cryptographic puzzles. By completing a puzzle, a block is mined and added to the blockchain. This blockchain includes a number of transactions that will be fully verified and legitimized once it's getting added to the blockchain. This is computationally very intensive. It consumes alot of energy and requires expensive equipment.
With the PoS consensus mechanism transactions will now be verified through staking. This means that validators can lock up (stake) a minimum of 32 Ether, which makes them eligible for creating a block that can be added to the blockchain. The network randomly selects one of the validators. However, the more ether one stakes, the more likely it becomes to be selected for validation.
Why does this matter?
There are two core reasons as to why this is significant for the crypto space.
The first is simply energy consumption. The PoW mechanism consumes a lot of energy. This means it requires high-end equipment such as graphic cards or cpus, and uses high levels of energy. This is given the recent energy crisis not only extremely expensive, it also is widely perceived as an assault on the environment. With the merge it boils down to simply staking Ether in order to have a chance of getting assigned for block creation. This can be done on a simple laptop, or even a raspberry pie, and does not require a high-end mining rig or farm. This not only makes Ethereum more environment friendly, it also makes it more accessible to more people around the world to become validators, and thus offering a chance for the network to remain decentralized.
Secondly, after the merge the network will operate in a much more stable way. This has to do with the way blocks are being created. In its current state, a new block is mined approximately every 14 seconds. This can vary depending on the load of the network. After the merge however, blocks will be issued at set 12 second intervals, making the network more efficient and consistent.
How will this affect me if I have Ethereum
The Ethereum merge is what we call a soft-merge, meaning the end-user will barely notice any changes. The speed of transactions will not increase, the fees will likely remain the same. While it may seem like the changes will not affect end-users immediately, The merge does however open up a large scale of opportunities to address the issues that are impossible to improve upon in its current state. Therefore the future is bright for Ethereum, and with the merge, ready for the future direction that crypto is heading towards.
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