The Merge Ethereum: All You Need To Know

08/09/2022
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What is the Merge?

The Merge represents the Ethereum network’s shift to proof-of-stake (PoS), its new system (also called a “consensus mechanism”) for authenticating crypto transactions. The new system will replace proof-of-work (PoW), the more power-hungry mechanism pioneered by Bitcoin.

Why is it called the Merge?

Ethereum already has a PoS network called the Beacon Chain (introduced in 2020), but it is not yet used for processing transactions. For now, it’s essentially just a staging area for computers operating the Ethereum network to prepare for the PoS upgrade.

Ethereum’s full transition to PoS requires merging the Beacon Chain (called the “Consensus” layer) with Ethereum’s PoW mainnet (the “Execution” layer).

When is the Merge happening?

Around Sept. 15, 2022.

Why no hard date? Each block on Ethereum’s PoW network carries a difficulty number representing how hard miners must work to add it to the network. Instead of kicking in at a specific date, the Merge is scheduled to take effect once the cumulative difficulty of all mined Ethereum blocks hits a certain number – the “total terminal difficulty” (TTD).

In August, Ethereum’s core developers set the TTD at 58,750,000,000,000,000,000,000, which will be reached sometime around Sept. 14 or 15. We only have an estimate because block difficulty and issuance rate varies over time.

Ethereum After the Merge

One of the promises of Ethereum 2.0 is that of scaling, and Vitalik Buterin claimed that the network will be able to process 100,000 transactions per second. However, The Merge is just the first stage of five from the protocol’s incoming development.

The five stages are as follows:

  • The Merge

This is the hereby discussed transition from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake following the merge of Ethereum’s current mainnet with the Beacon Chain.

  • The Surge

This is the phase that will bring sharding to the protocol. It’s a scaling solution that would break the network into separate partitions called “shards,” designed to spread the computational load on the mainnet.

  • The Verge

This phase refers to the introduction of the so-called “verkle trees.” It involves an upgrade to Merkle proofs and is intended to optimize data storage for Ethereum nodes.

  • The Purge

Similarly, this upgrade also concerns data storage for validators and it will reduce hard drive space that’s required for the validators, streamlining network congestion.

  • The Splurge

This is the last upgrade in the pipeline and is intended to deliver a string of miscellaneous updates that are made to ensure the overall smoothness of how the network runs.

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