The Ethereum merge is to be enacted in various stages. The Bellatrix hard fork, which was successfully enacted yesterday, showed that there is still huge use of the Ethereum network and that the fundamentals in terms of validators and network participation remain strong.
Ethereum Bellatrix is now live
Ethereum Bellatrix, one of the prerequisite stages for the upcoming Ethereum merge, was completed yesterday.
However, it wasn’t as smooth as many may have hoped. According to Martin Köppelmann, during the hard fork 5% of Ethereum validators fell offline, meaning that 9% of blocks were missed (18x higher than the usual 0.5%).
This is something of a concern, and some people believe that it is a sign that people are still not ready for the merge. Indeed, it appears that 25% of Ethereum clients have still not been updated in preparation for the merge.
Issues at this stage are hugely concerning for the Ethereum blockchain, which has already suffered extreme reputational damage thanks to the dithering and delays that have surrounded the merge.
Overall, there have been some things to celebrate as part of Ethereum Bellatrix, most notably the facts that the network participation rate is currently at 94.94% and the number of active validators 403,766.
The next stage is Paris
The next upgrade that Ethereum will have before the merge is the Paris upgrade, which will usher in the completion of the merge.
According to wenmerge.com, which has a countdown for the event, the Paris upgrade will happen on the 13th September.
Is Proof of Stake more secure?
Some of the main proponents of the merge have claimed that the main benefits include the fact that proof of stake is a far more secure consensus mechanism.
This view is held for a few reasons:
Firstly, Proof of Work requires miners to contend with a range of different issues that aren’t so prevalent in Proof of Stake, such as fluctuating energy costs within a jurisdiction. This is hugely problematic, especially in 2022, and means that it isn’t economically viable to mine Bitcoin in countries with high energy costs.
Secondly, Proof of Stake can be far less capital intensive to validate, which means that more people can participate. Whilst it is true that most people cannot afford 32 ETH to stake, there are alternatives that allow people to stake with no minimum requirements. By contrast, the overwhelming majority of people are priced out of Bitcoin mining, and hugely disproportionate benefits are afforded to the miners who have achieved the greatest economies of scale.
Lastly, Bitcoin’s security model is highly dependent on the ability for miners to scale their operations in line with price – if they cannot, then the possibility of conducting a 51% attack on the network becomes more attractive, even if extremely difficult to enforce. By contrast, the cost of attacking a Proof of Stake network oscillates directly in proportion to the price of the native asset (in this case, ETH).
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