Eth 2.0 may be coming to a computer screen near you quicker than most anticipated – including the Ethereum developers.
Last week, Vitalik Buterin released a “quick merge via fork choice change” document – a lighter version of the Executable Beacon Chain for quick deployment. While only a loose technical document, the plan ostensibly serves as a notice against any further agitation from Ethereum miners as the merge would allow Ethereum to abandon mining in a rapid fashion.
The Executable Beacon Chain is a proposal to attach Eth 1.x – which we will now refer to as Ethpow (proof-of-work Ethereum) – onto the currently running proof-of-stake Ethereum: the Beacon Chain.
The proposal works by having slightly altered Ethereum software, like Geth or OpenEthereum, point its transaction flow at the Beacon Chain. Instead of miners packaging transactions into blocks, the Beacon Chain’s validators will verify and finalize transactions.
“The only change required on the ethpow side is that the client must have a communication channel with a trusted beacon node and must change its fork choice rule,” Buterin writes.
Why the rush?
A quickened transition schedule is being considered for a few reasons. One recent consideration has been rising tensions between mining parties and Ethereum developers as EIP 1559 and PoS come into focus. The former proposal is highly contested by mining parties, but has achieved enough support among developers to be included in July’s London hard fork. PoS, of course, would see mining done away with completely.
Developers, however, have the high ground in this fight. A quick merge to PoS would only require “at least one honest miner” in order to start the merge. Multiple honest mining parties pointing blocks to the Beacon Chain would entail a smooth transition, Buterin says.
A quick transition to PoS does preclude the inclusion of multiple highly touted Ethereum tech stacks, at least for the moment.
Yet, at the end of the day a transition to PoS remains the goal of Ethereum developers, as it has been since before Ethpow launched. Any transition to PoS where Ethereum doesn’t lose its top dog position as the go-to platform for decentralized apps would likely be considered a victory.
Pulse check: Validator efficiencies
If you’re new to Valid Points and the topic of Ethereum 2.0 in general, be sure to check out our 101 explainer on Eth 2.0 metrics to get up to speed about terminology used throughout this newsletter.
CoinDesk’s Eth 2.0 validator node, Zelda, is humming along perfectly, earning roughly 0.0073 ETH or $13.12 per day.
While the amount of reward earned by our Eth 2.0 validator has not changed significantly over the past few weeks, I did notice a spike in Zelda’s computer processing power and a subsequent drop in her memory usage.
According to CoinDesk’s data dashboard, Zelda’s central processing unit (CPU) usage almost doubled from around 100% to 200% on Friday, March 12, and has stayed at these heightened levels ever since.
This suggests that Zelda is consuming more electrical energy in order to perform the same tasks it did before. For context, Zelda has four CPUs it can max out before validator operations are negatively impacted. Operating at a level of 200% suggests we’re using the max computing power of two out of four CPUs.
At the same time, Zelda’s usage of random access memory (RAM), which is the component of a computer that is reserved for temporary data storage, has gone down from around 4 GB to rough 2.5 GB.
This suggests the memory capacity needed for running this Eth 2.0 validator has dropped. Zelda has up to 16GB of RAM, enough for an average desktop computer to run various applications and demanding games. For Eth 2.0 validating, we use roughly 15% of total RAM, enough for tablet devices to…