The Ethereum Merge Is Done, Opening a New Era for the Second-Biggest Blockchain
Sam Kessler - CoinDesk
The massive overhaul of Ethereum known as the Merge is finally underway, moving the digital machinery at the core of the second-largest cryptocurrency to a vastly more energy-efficient system after years of development and delay.
At press time, the network had passed a critical point of no return – officially ending its reliance on power-hungry crypto miners.
Ethereum’s core developers are, however, still monitoring whether the long-awaited upgrade was a complete success. Blockchain developers and enthusiasts remain gathered in Zoom conferences and celebratory livestreams, awaiting with bated breath the key metrics that will indicate whether validators – the operators of Ethereum’s new proof-of-stake network – are behaving as expected and writing new transactions to the blockchain’s ledger.
It is no small feat swapping out one way of running a blockchain, known as proof-of-work, for another, called proof-of-stake. “The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” said Justin Drake, a researcher at the non-profit Ethereum Foundation who spoke to CoinDesk before the Merge happened. “I like to think of it as kind of like the switch from gasoline to electric.”
If Ethereum’s dress Merge rehearsals are anything to go by, some initial hiccups are expected.
If successful, though, the payoff will be immense. Already, Ethereum should now consume 99.9% or so less energy. From a carbon-emissions perspective, it's like Finland suddenly shut off its power grid, according to one estimate.
Should the Merge succeed in full, developers say the upgrade will make the network – which houses a $60 billion ecosystem of cryptocurrency exchanges, lending companies, non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces and other apps – more secure and scalable.
At press time, ETH was trading at $1,594.22, down about 0.81% in the past 24 hours.
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