Amphora: The Merge Event

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Amphora

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The Ethereum community is always keen on their vision of an energy-efficient proof-of-stake network. For several years the Ethereum community has strived intensely to develop a PoS consensus mechanism that ensures security, sustainability, and stability while retaining decentralization. The community is compelled to upgrade the heart of a decentralized network with an elegant solution called “Beacon chain”. 

The Beacon chain is a PoS consensus layer that operates as a fully independent network. Right now it is running in parallel to the main Ethereum network. However,  a one-way bridge from the PoW Ethereum to PoS layer(Beacon Chain) is accepting ETH deposits and is currently live with 240K validators since its launch in December 2020 with finalizing 100% epochs with no downtime. 

You can also learn how to stake in Ethereum 2.0 in this article.

The Beacon chain is efficiently providing a way of transitioning Ethereum’s consensus algorithm. However, the history of PoW will be preserved on the PoS layer as well with a process called “The Merge”. During Ethereum Core Devs meeting, it has been decided that at a predefined block height, the difficulty level of a problem solved by miners will increase exponentially, which eventually leads to a point where the chain will stop producing blocks. This process termed as “Terminal-Total-Difficulty”. After this process the execution layer will begin listening to the PoS layer for the new blocks.

The core benefits of the merge are:

  1. Energy efficiency. 
  2. More validators.
  3. High security and decentralization.
  4. The distinction between consensus layer clients and execution layer clients.

Execution Clients

These are the ETH1 clients for transaction execution, bundling, and state management. Such as Geth, Open Ethereum, Hyperledger Besu, Nethermind, and more.

Consensus Clients

These are the ETH2 clients responsible for block validation. Prysm, Teku, Lighthouse, Nimbus are some examples.

You can see the full list of ETH2 clients here.

The Ethereum researchers have also launched a testnet at Rayonism to test the merge with scripts, finality, and block validation.

The Amphora Interop Event

Before going live with the transition phase the clients must need to be interoperable with each other. For this purpose, from 2nd to 9th Oct, 40 representatives of ETH1 and ETH2 teams met in Greece for the Amphora Event. The main goal of the event was to ensure a smooth transition of Merge and to create a multi-client devnet. 

The path shared by Ethereum Foundation and Consensys working on the merge.

The objective was to resolve the issues related to the execution layer and consensus layer clients and to set the milestones for development. The milestones are defined to make the clients interoperable with each other. 

Milestones

  1. The first milestone M1 required the clients to implement the merge specifications. To document the completed task the team has also come up with an Amphora milestone tracker.
  2. In M2 the execution layer(EL) and consensus layer(CL) teams pair in one on one and launch the post-merge devnet. This ensures that both the layers could communicate successfully via EngineAPI
  3. In M3 the EL clients have to connect with two CL clients and vice versa, to ensure robust implementation.
  4. Whereas, in M4, multiple EL clients interact with multiple CL clients for the entire transition from PoW to PoS.
  5. M5 requires the clients to run a devnet which runs through all the transitions between all the clients.

The researchers and clients will keep repeating the feedback process and improve the overall efficiency of the devnet to prepare the network for “The Merge”.

Amphora’s success will provide a great momentum for the merge. On Oct 27th we have an “Altair Upgrade” expected to take place which will eventually add some functionality to the Beacon chain before merge. As the clients reach the M5 the network will take a complete transition from Pow to PoS. You can track the live updates from here.

For better understanding, you can read Ben Edgington article here. You can also watch the Ethereum merge local testnet demo.

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