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The shift from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) on Ethereum might take years since it began with the introduction of Beacon Chain in December 2020 and has seen various setbacks along the way.
The Ethereum network is reaching the consolidation phase of its critical shift from proof-of-work (PoW) mining consensus to proof-of-stake (PoS). During a conference call on Thursday, Ethereum (ETH) developers proposed indefinite merger date.
Tim Beiko, a core Ethereum developer who oversees core protocol meetings, proposed September 19 as the tentative date for the merger during the conference call. The planned deadline received no opposition from the core developers.
Later, Ethereum developer superphiz.eth tweeted about the merger roadmap and clarified that the proposed target date should be viewed as a roadmap rather than a hard deadline.
Phase 0 of Ethereum’s transition to PoS-based ETH 2.0 commenced with the launch of Beacon Chain on December 1, 2020, marking the beginning of the shift. Phase 1 of the program was originally expected to debut in the second half of 2021 but was pushed back to the first quarter of 2022 due to incomplete work and the complexity of the code audits.
In early June of this year, Beacon Chain went live on the Sepolia testnet, paving the way for its Merge dress rehearsal and providing Ethereum network engineers with vital technical information. On July 7, the Sepolia was ultimately incorporated into the network.
The final test of the Merge is anticipated to take place on the Goerli network during the second week of August. The formal Merge scheduled for the second part of September would become a priority for developers following the merger.
The shift to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) network is anticipated to lower Ethereum’s energy usage by 99 percent. In contrast, the introduction of sharding (expected for the first quarter of 2023) will make the network extraordinarily scalable and comparable to centralized payment processors.
The PoS vs. PoW argument has been ongoing for quite some time, with proponents of PoS claiming it is more environmentally friendly and similarly secure. In contrast, proponents of PoW, notably Jack Dorsey, have argued that PoS is centralized and less safe.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has recently been vehemently defending proof-of-stake (PoS), saying that, contrary to popular opinion, PoS does not include voting on protocol settings just as proof-of-work (PoW) does not. Buterin also noted that nodes in both PoS and PoW reject incorrect blocks.
While Buterin continues to advocate for Proof-of-Stake, a recent analysis by HOPR identified some of the most severe weaknesses that might emerge after Merge.
“We should stress that this isn’t an emergency: It doesn’t affect any funds today. But this WILL be a major problem post Merge, and validators are incentivized to disrupt each other to poach a share of millions of $$$ in MEV.”
Validators on the network leak their IP addresses when broadcasting attestations and blocks connected to their public key. Still, these validators are known in advance, enabling highly focused and selective attacks (DoS or otherwise) against future validators.
The HOPR team saw that an audit report characterized the vulnerability as “mitigated,” which is inaccurate because attackers are not restricted to (DoS) attacks against the Teku node.