A blockchain is a distributed ledger, which means the list of transactions on the chain is dispersed among some computers on the network, sometimes referred to as nodes. The ledger’s transactions are organized into “blocks,” which are then connected one to another to create a chain. In a recent piece, we covered how blockchains connect blocks and how to create one.
One of the main security characteristics of a blockchain is the distribution of the ledger, which has several copies and cannot be permanently altered by a single node. The transactions’ sequence and selection for logging into the ledger are made by the nodes. A node (or even numerous nodes) being lost, whether accidentally (due to a power outage) or maliciously (due to a threat actor targeting the system), does not endanger the whole network since the surviving nodes may continue to operate the network without any data loss or corruption.
But complications arise when the ledger is distributed. First off, it’s feasible that genuine transactions are registered by various nodes at slightly different times and in slightly different sequences as the number of transactions on the blockchain rises. The ledger would become inconsistent as a result. Second, a system must be in place to detect the fake copy of the ledger and either remove it or repair it if a threat actor hits one of the nodes. A simple query may be used to reiterate these two issues: Which version of the ledger is the official version? The question is straightforward, but the response is not.
The Merge Unites Two Blockchain Platforms:
The Beacon Chain proof-of-stake network and the present Ethereum Mainnet. The Ethereum blockchain will change from a proof-of-work system to a proof-of-stake system as a result of this merger. We need to examine both kinds of blockchains and what it means to employ “proof-of-work” or “proof-of-stake” to properly comprehend The Merge and its effects.
What Does “The Merge” Mean?
The Ethereum community determined that switching from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake consensus method was advantageous years ago. The Ethereum community established the “Beacon Chain,” a testing environment for proof-of-stake consensus that operates alongside and in conjunction with the main Ethereum chain, on December 1, 2020, after working through several suggestions and technical challenges. On the Beacon Chain, there are more than 400,000 validators who have bet more than $23 billion in ether altogether. The Beacon Chain will be incorporated into the Ethereum main chain the week of September 12, 2022, and proof-of-stake will replace it. The Ethereum main chain will no longer support proof-of-work.
Why is the merger crucial?
The proof-of-work and proof-of-stake consensus procedures vary significantly. The Ethereum blockchain will be affected by these variations in a variety of ways, some of which may be more apparent right away than others.
Things You Need To Understand About The Merge
- proof-of-work Mining
- Less centralized systems
There are more ways in which the switch to proof-of-stake is anticipated to improve user access to the Ethereum blockchain. Given the necessity of staking 32ETH to operate a validator, this may appear contradictory. Comparing that staking fee to the expenses related to proof-of-work mining, it is clear that it is not significant.
2. Proof-of-work mining:
Calls for complex computer gear, such as mining rigs running several, specialized GPUs, specialized cooling, and challenging multi-rig networking. A user must locate a site with enough electrical connections to power the devices to utilize them. In contrast, the majority of current laptops that cost less than $1,000, don’t need specialist cooling, and can run on regular household electricity can run the Ethereum proof-of-stake system. Furthermore, since proof-of-work requires so much power, miners are often forced to seek out areas with less expensive power, including those with state-subsidized energy.
In addition to the operational expenses, a proof-of-stake system has far lower entry barriers in terms of technical expertise and experience. Proof-of-work mining necessitates the use of several, challenging software components. However, the Ethereum proof-of-stake system only needs three applications that need little technical knowledge to function. In general, a proof-of-stake consensus system is easier for the typical individual to use than a proof-of-work system.
3. Less centralized systems:
Another result of enhanced access and less power use will be less centralization. Because proof-of-work miners pool their computing power in groups to enhance their chances of winning the computational competition and collecting the related reward, proof-of-work blockchains often exhibit greater levels of centralization. If the consortium wins the competition, the prize is divided among the participants.
The aforementioned elements are anticipated to work together to make the Ethereum blockchain more secure. The spread of the ledger among several nodes in blockchain technology is a crucial aspect of its security. More users result from improved access and less centralization, increasing the number of blockchain nodes. A larger network makes it more difficult for a threat actor to take control of more than 50% of the network, which is the bare minimum required to execute fraudulent transactions on a blockchain. The cost for a threat actor to successfully take control of the Ethereum blockchain is predicted to rise from $5 billion to $10 billion to $20 billion, or by at least 100%.
How much electricity does the Ethereum blockchain consume?
Approximately the same amount as the Netherlands, according to one estimate. The Merge is anticipated to reduce the energy required to run the Ethereum blockchain by 99.9%, from over 112 terawatt-hours per year to roughly 0.04 terawatt-hours per year.
The decrease in power use has two clear advantages. The Ethereum blockchain will first significantly improve its environmental friendliness. Second, paying for energy will no longer be a significant operational expense for the blockchain.
The third advantage of less energy use is that more people will be able to use blockchain technology. Proof-of-work consensus techniques will be prohibited in several jurisdictions Unless they are powered exclusively by renewable energy. Therefore, the switch to proof-of-stake will enable people to continue running blockchain nodes in countries that forbid proof-of-work consensus.
What follows is:
The Merge is simply the first in a succession of anticipated Ethereum blockchain updates. Shanghai is the location of the following improvements. Following Shanghai, Ethereum anticipates seeing the “surge,” “verge,” and “purge.” The term “surge” refers to the use of a “sharding” technique, which is anticipated to enhance Ethereum’s maximum transaction processing pace from the current 15 to 20 transactions per second to over 100,000 transactions per second. The verge is the next planned implementation of a “Merkle tree”-based mathematical proof, which will allow blockchain nodes to function without downloading the complete chain’s history. Legacy data on the chain will be deleted as an outcome of the purge. These three updates taken together will provide a blockchain that is smaller, simpler to use, and much quicker.
Consumption Of Energy
The Ethereum blockchain’s significant decrease in energy usage is the most noticeable effect right away. There is no fast cut to resolving the mathematical conundrum since the proof-of-work technique uses brute force computation. A proof-of-work miner’s sole option is to use more processing power if they want to improve their odds of being the first to solve the problem and, thus, their chances of winning the related reward. More processing power necessitates higher electricity use.
The Merge is the biggest modification to a blockchain’s basic functionality in history and signifies a fundamental change in how the Ethereum blockchain operates. The Merge will probably have several, unanticipated effects, which we shall discuss in later blogs.
The Merge establishes the groundwork for further Ethereum improvements. Sharding is one of the suggested network scalability solutions that can only function with a PoS consensus architecture. To ease network congestion and boost transaction throughput, a blockchain can be divided into smaller, independent shard chains using the technique known as sharding. Sharding will be put into practice at later rounds of Ethereum’s current development schedule.