The Merge is the most major improvement in Ethereum’s history. To ensure a secure transition to proof-of-stake, extensive testing and bug bounties were conducted.
This procedure is nearing completion, with intentions to perform The Merge on a few public test-nets before moving forward with Mainnet.
Table of Contents
- What is The Merge?
- Combination with Mainnet
- How do you prepare?
- Holders and users
- When exactly is The Merge?
- What happens after the merge?
- What happened to ‘Eth2’?
- Upgrades and their relationship
What is The Merge?
The Merge signifies the union of Ethereum’s existing execution layer (the Mainnet as we know it today) and its new proof-of-stake consensus layer, the Beacon Chain.
It does away with the necessity for energy-intensive mining in favor of securing the network using staked ETH. More scalability, security, and sustainability – a genuinely exciting step toward accomplishing the Ethereum mission.
It’s vital to recall that the Beacon Chain was initially distributed independently of Mainnet. The Ethereum Mainnet, with all of its accounts, balances, smart contracts, and blockchain data, is still secured by proof-of-work, whereas the Beacon Chain uses proof-of-stake.
The approaching Merge is when these two systems finally merge and proof-of-stake permanently replaces proof-of-work.
Consider the following analogy. Consider Ethereum to be a spaceship that isn’t quite ready for intergalactic travel. The community has constructed a new engine and a hardened hull with the Beacon Chain.
After extensive testing, it’s almost time to change out the new engine for the old in mid-flight. The new, more efficient engine will be integrated into the existing spacecraft, ready to put in some serious lightyears and take on the universe.
Combination with Mainnet
Proof-of-work has protected Mainnet since its inception. This is the Ethereum blockchain that we’re all familiar with—it records every transaction, smart contract, and balance since the network’s inception in July 2015.
Throughout the history of Ethereum, developers have been hard at work planning for the inevitable switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.
The Beacon Chain was founded on December 1, 2020, and has since operated as a distinct blockchain to Mainnet, running in parallel.
Mainnet transactions have not been processed by the Beacon Chain. It has instead reached an agreement on its own state by agreeing on active validators and their account balances. The Beacon Chain’s time to gain consensus on more is soon approaching after lengthy testing.
The Beacon Chain will be the consensus engine for all network data after The Merge, including execution layer transactions and account balances.
The Merge marks the official adoption of the Beacon Chain as the engine of block manufacture. Mining will no longer be used to generate valid blocks.
Instead, proof-of-stake validators will take up this function, assessing the authenticity of all transactions and proposing blocks.
There is no history lost. When Mainnet and the Beacon Chain are combined, the whole transactional history of Ethereum will be combined. You are not required to do anything. Your money is secure.
How do you prepare?
The Merge is one of the most major and anticipated improvements in Ethereum history, and while its impact will be felt by everyone in the long run, some people will need to take action in the short term to be completely prepared.
Holders and users
You do not need to do anything to safeguard your cash once they enter The Merge.
This needs to be stated again: As a user or holder of ETH or any other digital asset on Ethereum, as well as non-node-operating stakers, you are not required to do anything with your assets or wallet prior to The Merge.
Despite the switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, Ethereum’s entire history since its inception remains intact and unchanged.
Any funds in your wallet prior to The Merge will remain available after The Merge. You do not need to take any action to upgrade.
As the Ethereum Mainnet Merge approaches, you should be on the lookout for scammers attempting to take advantage of people during this transition. Do not transfer your ETH anywhere in the hopes of “upgrading to ETH2.” There is no “ETH2” token, and there is nothing else you need to do to keep your assets secure.
When exactly is The Merge?
The Merge is planned to be released in Q3/Q4 2022. The client developers are currently working toward a soft target of September 19th, 2022, although this could alter depending on the success of the final testnet merging (Goerli) in mid-August, continuous client refinements, and the hash rate of the existing miners continuing to rise predictably. Everyone is working tirelessly to complete The Merge as quickly as feasible.
What happens after the merge?
This will mark the end of Ethereum’s proof-of-work era and usher in a more sustainable, environmentally friendly Ethereum. Learn more about Ethereum’s energy usage.
This will also pave the way for more scalability upgrades not achievable with proof-of-work, bringing Ethereum one step closer to full-scale security.
What happened to ‘Eth2’?
As we approach The Merge, the name ‘Eth2’ has been deprecated.
There will no longer be two independent Ethereum networks after merging ‘Eth1’ and ‘Eth2’ into a single chain; there will only be Ethereum.
To avoid misunderstanding, the following terms have been changed by the community:
- The ‘execution layer,’ which handles transactions and execution, is now known as ‘Eth1.’
- The ‘consensus layer’, which handles proof-of-stake consensus, is now known as ‘Eth2.’
These terminology changes solely affect naming conventions; they have no effect on Ethereum’s goals or agenda.
Upgrades and their relationship
The Ethereum updates are all interconnected in some way. So, let’s go over how The Merge connects to the other upgrades again.
The Beacon Chain and the Merge
The Merge formalizes the Beacon Chain as the new consensus layer to the current Mainnet execution layer. Once The Merge occurs, validators will be assigned to protect the Ethereum Mainnet, and proof-of-work mining will no longer be a viable method of block production.
Instead, blocks will be offered by validating nodes that have staked ether for the ability to participate in consensus. These enhancements pave the way for future scalability enhancements, such as sharding.
The Merger and the Shanghai Improvement
The Merge upgrade will not contain certain anticipated features such as the ability to withdraw staked ETH in order to simplify and optimize focus on a successful transition to proof-of-stake. The Shanghai update will come after The Merge, which will allow stakeholders to exit.
Sharding and the Merge
To address scalability, it was originally planned to work on sharding before The Merge. However, with the rise of layer 2 scaling solutions, the emphasis has switched to The Merge, which converts proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.
Plans for sharding are rapidly evolving, but given the rise and success of layer 2 technologies for scaling transaction execution, sharding plans have shifted to determining the best way to distribute the burden of storing compressed call data from rollup contracts, allowing for exponential growth in network capacity.
This would be impossible without first implementing proof-of-stake.
1. Misconception: “Running a node necessitates staking 32 ETH.”
False. Anyone is free to sync their own self-verified Ethereum copy (i.e. run a node). There is no need for ETH. Never before, never after, and never again.
2. Misconception: “The Merge will lower gas prices.”
False. The Merge is a change in consensus method, not network capacity increase, and will not result in cheaper gas fees.
3. Misconception: “After The Merge, transactions will be noticeably faster.”
False. Despite some minor adjustments, transaction speed on layer 1 will largely remain unchanged.
The “speed” of a transaction can be quantified in several ways, including the time it takes to be included in a block and the time it takes to complete. Both of these modifications are minor, and users will not notice them.
4. Misconception: “After The Merge, you can withdraw staked ETH.”
False. With The Merge, staking withdrawals are not yet possible. Staking withdrawals will be possible after the Shanghai update.
5. Misconception: “Validators will not receive any liquid ETH incentives until the Shanghai upgrade when withdrawals are authorized.
False. Fee tips/MEV will be credited to the validator’s Mainnet account and will be available instantly.
6. Misconception: “When withdrawals are authorized, all stakeholders will exist simultaneously.”
False. For security concerns, validator departures are rate controlled.
7. Misconception: “After The Merge, staking APR is predicted to treble.”
False. More recent estimates expect a 50% increase in APR after the merger, rather than a 200% increase.
8. Misconception: “The Merge will cause chain downtime.”
False. The Merge update is intended to provide a seamless transition to proof-of-stake.