Switching from Ethereum to Ethereum 2.0 introduces some considerable changes. The developers opt for a rollout in Phases to ensure everything goes smoothly. It will take until at least 2021 for everything to be in place.
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Ethereum 2.0 Has a Lengthy Roadmap
The decision to upgrade Ethereum’s ecosystem from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake is a long-term vision. From day one, there is an intention to keep pushing the technological boundaries of what the ecosystem can achieve. Sticking to the roadmap for providing these upgrades is often a tough balancing act, but there is a lot of optimism to go along with it.
Integrating all of the new functionality in one significant upgrade is virtually impossible. Many intricate aspects of Ethereum will either receive an upgrade or Phase out in favor of new solutions. To achieve all of this, the developers are taking a slow-and-steady approach.
Ethereum 2.0 will launch throughout several Phases. Every Phase focuses on upgrading a specific part of the ecosystem in preparation for the “full” Ethereum 2.0 activation. Assuming there are no hiccups, this rollout will complete by late 2021 or early 2022. It is a significant process, and any delays can push back the roadmap by weeks, if not months.
We Are Currently In Phase 0
At the time of writing, Phase 0 for Ethereum 2.0 is active. The threshold to activate the new “Beacon Chain” is met, allowing the upgrade to occur over the coming months. The beacon chain’s first task is to register and store the validator node list and implement proof-of-stake. Ethereum users are currently able to lock up their funds to start earning staking rewards in the future.
A lengthy period awaits those who aim to run a validator node or stake their ETH balance. No one will be able to access their rewards until Phase 1.5 activates. Under normal circumstances, this means locking up funds for close to a year. In the worst-case scenario, that lock-up period may take two years or more. Everyone needs to consider the pros and cons of taking this step.
During this Phase, miners will still be able to help secure the network. Ethereum relies on proof-of-work to achieve network security and consensus. Nothing changes in this regard, at least until Phase 1.5 of Ethereum 2.0 rolls out. In a sense, both Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0 will coexist for the foreseeable future. Once the switch to proof-of-stake finalizes, mining Ethereum is no longer an option.
Phase 1 Will Roll Out In 2021
For now, there is no official activation date for Ethereum 2.0 Phase 1. It isn’t too surprising, as the developers are still working on this part of the upgrade. It will first hit the testnet before it goes live on the mainnet. Judging by the current progress, this deployment can occur anywhere in 2021. Testing the code usually takes several weeks or months.
When Phase 1 goes live, the network will benefit from the implementation of shard chains. This step is crucial for addressing the scalability issues Ethereum faces. Offloading data processing to parallel chains will help Ethereum 2.0 achieve levels the current blockchain can’t accommodate.
To be more specific, the Ethereum blockchain will “split” into 64 different chains. Every shard chain can process transactions and store data in parallel—this approach introduces unprecedented processing power for the Ethereum blockchain.
Increasing the throughput by at least 64 times is only the beginning for Ethereum 2.0. Developers are intent on achieving much better results after careful tweaking. Current estimates indicate shard chains will handle several hundred times more data throughput compared to the existing blockchain.
Phase 1.5 Is the Crucial Change
All of the above leads up to deploying Ethereum 2.0 Phase 1.5. This is the cut-off point for proof-of-work and ushers in the full transition to proof-of-stake. Moreover, this Phase also marks when stakers and validator node operators can claim their rewards from securing the network for the first time.
Currently, there is no indication as to when Phase 1.5 will go live. It will require a successful launch of Phase 1 and no further delays affecting the development of Phase 1.5. Putting a launch date on this Phase is difficult, as its technical side remains less defined than Phase 0 and Phase 1. A further indication of how developers are still working on specific ideas may or may not see the light of day.
The main focus of Ethereum 2.0 Phase 1.5 is introducing Ether accounts and allowing for transfers and withdrawals. All of this functionality needs to work with cross-shard technology, which is currently in the testing Phase. Additionally, it remains unclear how smart contracts will handle this “shard chain” approach. All of this requires careful testing, evaluating, and modifying where necessary.
Lots Of Work Ahead
Looking beyond these essential functions, Ethereum developers have plenty of work to do. They also need to build an execution environment to transition existing applications and services from Ethereum to Ethereum 2.0. If proper scaling is the objective, this execution environment will be one of the new ecosystem’s cornerstones. It needs to meet expectations from day one.
Beyond Phase 1.5, there will be many other ideas and implementations to explore. Nothing is put in stone yet, but developers indicate they are excited about what the future will hold. Ethereum is an ecosystem designed to leverage the full potential of blockchain technology. With Ethereum 2.0, achieving that goal becomes more likely in the future.
The coming two years will prove crucial for the advancement of the Ethereum ecosystem. Ensuring a smooth transition to Ethereum 2.0 is only the first step to be taken along the way. If successful, the network will be capable of scaling well beyond its current limitations and bottlenecks. Expectations are high for Ethereum 2.0, yet it is up to the developers to deliver on these promises.
With no fixed dates in place, the developers give themselves ample time to ensure everything works as expected. Community members will often prefer delaying the next Phase over using unreliable technology. How long this entire upgrade cycle will take remains a guessing game.
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