Ever since the Ethereum network had launched its Beacon Chain for staking in December 2020, enthusiasts have waited for the day that the chain will finally be merged with Ethereum’s mainnet, giving way for the Proof of Stake consensus to be the only mechanism through which new ETH is created. While unfortunately, a specific date for the Merge is yet to be disclosed, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has now said that “hopefully we’re gonna be merging pretty soon.”
Speaking on a recent podcast, the engineer also lamented the constant delays that this transition has faced, adding,
“If we want to kind of really fully achieve that vision I do still think that there’s quite a lot of work still left to do that we had hoped would be finished by now or even by like 2016.”
Buterin also elaborated on the aspects of transition that are yet to be finished, and most of that has to do with testing. Since most blockchain programs are used by indefinite numbers of people entrusting millions of dollars, constantly testing software to perfection is a necessary step, albeit one wants to fall victim to an exploit similar to the ones the Ethereum network is so used to.
Nevertheless, Buterin said that apart from testing, “there are already some basic test stats and full implementations of everything that needs to happen for the merge,” which includes consensus clients and execution clients, the latter of which has run into some limitations, according to him.
What requires the most testing, however, is the initial sync process, which Buterin explained as the mechanism behind integrating new nodes to the network and its contract code. Of course, in numerous other subtleties and technical aspects that need to be taken care of, said Vitalik, adding that his team believes that the merge can take place sometime between June and August this year.
Happy birthday beacon chain!
Here's an updated roadmap diagram for where Ethereum protocol development is at and what's coming in what order.
(I'm sure this is missing a lot, as all diagrams are, but it covers a lot of the important stuff!) pic.twitter.com/puWP7hwDlx
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 2, 2021
It should be noted here that the Merge is just one of the first steps in Buterin’s vision of Ethereum, and the network might witness constant development for the foreseeable future. While the exec had earlier revealed a roadmap on Twitter that laid out the phases post-merge, he explained the same as:
“..the merge which was basically proof of stake, the surge which is increasing the capacity of the chain, basically doing sharding and doing a little bit more stuff before and after that. Then there is the verge, which is vertical trees which are basically, a technology that makes it easier to validate the chain… Then there’s the purge which is making the chain lighter and making the code wider and then there is like the splurge which is just everything else.”
The exec did agree that while a lot of buzzwords and extra improvements were in the pipeline, such as ZK Snarks, EVM build-up, and proposer builder separation. If just the merge to POS and sharding are implemented, “we’re still in a good place.” This could be the case considering the biggest issues being faced by Ethereum currently are its reliance on mining and lack of scalability, which sharding is meant to fix.
Hence, Vitalik believes Ethereum “will definitely be big enough to” become the single transaction layer for the internet or global financial activity once the Surge phase of its transition takes place.