Ethereum has confirmed that The Merge is now complete, switching the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency from a proof-of-work to proof-of-stake model, lowering its energy demands significantly. The amount of energy consumption that will be reduced thanks to the transition is ~99.95%, according to an announcement from ethereum.org, the official portal for the cryptocurrency.
From the ethereum.org:
- Ethereum Mainnet uses proof-of-stake, but this wasn’t always the case.
- The upgrade from the original proof-of-work mechanism to proof-of-stake was called The Merge.
- The Merge refers to the original Ethereum Mainnet merging with a separate proof-of-stake blockchain called the Beacon Chain, now existing as one chain.
- The Merge reduced Ethereum’s energy consumption by ~99.95%.
And we finalized!— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) September 15, 2022
Happy merge all. This is a big moment for the Ethereum ecosystem. Everyone who helped make the merge happen should feel very proud today.
The Merge was the joining of the original execution layer of Ethereum (the Mainnet that has existed since genesis) with its new proof-of-stake consensus layer, the Beacon Chain. It eliminated the need for energy-intensive mining and instead enabled the the network to be secured using staked ETH. It was a truly exciting step in realizing the Ethereum vision—more scalability, security, and sustainability.
Initially, the Beacon Chain shipped separately from Mainnet. Ethereum Mainnet – with all it’s accounts, balances, smart contracts, and blockchain state – continued to be secured by proof-of-work, even while the Beacon Chain ran in parallel using proof-of-stake. The Merge was when these two systems finally came together, and proof-of-work was permanently replaced by proof-of-stake.
Imagine Ethereum is a spaceship that launched before it was quite ready for an interstellar voyage. With the Beacon Chain, the community built a new engine and a hardened hull. After significant testing, it became time to hot-swap the new engine for the old one mid-flight. This merged the new, more efficient engine into the existing ship enabling it to put in some serious lightyears and take on the universe.
The Merge doesn’t change much for the average Ethereum user, but in addition to the reduced energy demands, miners have effectively been sidelined with the transition to proof-of-stake, whereby blocks are validated based on the number of coins that a validator stakes. Gas fees, another complaint, are still being addressed.