On September 15th, 2022, a historic moment occurred in the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem known as the MERGE. In this article, we will explore what the MERGE, is all about and its effect on blockchain technology.
Since the launch of the first blockchain network in 2009; Bitcoin, followed by the second-largest blockchain network in 2015; known as Ethereum. These networks have been running under a mechanism that helps to secure the network by miners having to solve a puzzle to validate a block of transactions, this process is known as proof of work(POS).
According to the Ethereum founder, Vitalik stated, the proof of work (POW) hasn't been the ideal mechanism for running the network because of its effect on scalability and high usage of electric energy by its validators (miners). While POW hasn't been ineffective, it has secured Ethereum from the beginning until the merge.
Probably you must be wondering how possible it is; you are not alone, Ethereum developers have made history to show how feasible it is because we are in the POST MERGE ERA, so let's jump into how it was accomplished.
Since the history of Ethereum, the developers have been preparing for the transition of POW to POS. It started with the planning and development, of a separate and new network known as the Beacon chain created on December 1st, 2020, which runs on the proof of stake mechanism.
After the development, the Beacon chain was reaching out a consensus (method of agreement) on its state by agreeing on active validators and their account balance. After the developers were satisfied with the performance with the extensive testing on the chain, it was time for it to process transactions from the Ethereum blockchain, which is the upgrade.
An illustration that covers this is a car traveling to another universe with an engine that has a high limitation on the car's performance by consuming a lot of fuel and resources, the manufacturer goes ahead to build a new engine that consumes less fuel and gives room for other improvements and this new engine have to be swapped, with the old engine without the car having to pause the trip, even for a second and having not to cause casualties at the same time. Now isn't that awesome!
Currently, the Beacon chain is the consensus engine for all Ethereum network data, account balance, and transactions, the beacon chain uses the POS mechanism, and mining is no longer the means of producing blocks.
This new mechanism enforces the goal of blockchain, Decentralization.
- According to Justin Drake, an Ethereum researcher stated in his tweet; "The merge will reduce worldwide electricity consumption by 0.2%" that is pretty huge. This means people who had issues with the Ethereum chain having to consume a lot of energy can participate in the blockchain, which amounts to higher usage and production, because it is a green technology.
- The merge allows future upgrades, which you can find out on the Ethereum vision.
- It did not change anything for its user.
- Developers will only have to migrate their smart contract from Rinkeby testnets to Goerli or Sepolia testnets. It also came with a few changes around Block structure, slot/block timing, opcode changes, etc.
- There has been a misconception of what the merge is not.
- The merge is not a mechanism for inflating the price of ETH.
- There is nothing like new ETH / ETH2, it is still the same ETH.
- The merge doesn't require you to migrate to a new wallet, as the user, you don't have to do anything.
- The merge does not reduce the gas price on Ethereum, which means the layer 2 solutions will thrive more.
That's moderately all you need to know about the merge for now. And for dapp developers, I will publish a new article on how to migrate your dapp from Rinkeby to the new testnets soon.
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Cover image credit to Miagul