The Merge, which marked the birth of Ethereum 2.0 has been a hot topic in the crypto space for a while now. But what many of you might not know is that the Merge is just the first stage of five from the protocol’s incoming development.
Happy birthday beacon chain!— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) December 2, 2021
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
Thanks to the Merge, the Ethereum we know and cherish has become more sustainable and on its way to become just more scalable and more secure. Although the Merge introduced serious structural changes and shifted the blockchain from energy-intensive proof-of-work mining to a more energy-efficient proof-of-stake system, according to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, the Merge was only half the tale — 55% to be exact.
Buterin says that Ethereum will undergo Shanghai upgrade then another 4 phases that Vitalik gave them cute rhyming names "surge," "verge," "purge," and "splurge." Let's have a look at the amusingly named upgrades that the Merge made possible.
What Comes After the Merge?
After the transition from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake that occurred on Sep 15th which is marked by the merger of Ethereum's existing mainnet and the Beacon Chain, the network will also undergo a key improvement that is expected further strengthen the Merge, dubbed Ethereum Shanghai which will concentrate its efforts on lowering gas costs. As of now, there is no clear strategy for achieving this objective based on continuing developer conversations but it is expected to take place in around six months' time.
According to the plan, the other 4 developmental phases are as follows:
The Surge: Great to Scalability
This stage will introduce sharding to the protocol. It is a scaling approach that would divide the network into various sections known as "shards," with the goal of distributing the computational burden on the mainnet.
Sharding is the process of horizontally splitting a database to share the load; it is a common idea in computer science. In an Ethereum scenario, sharding will complement layer 2 rollups by spreading the burden of handling the vast quantity of data required by rollups over the whole network. This will continue to reduce network congestion while increasing the number of transactions per second.
Sharding could happen in 2023. Shards will increase Ethereum's capacity to store and access data, but they will not be utilized to execute code.
The Verge: Great to Decentralization
In this stage, so-called "verkle trees" (a type of mathematical proof) are introduced. It entails upgrading Merkle proofs and is aimed at streamlining data storage for Ethereum nodes. Verkle trees essentially let you store a lot of data by providing a brief proof of any piece of it, which is then confirmed by someone who only has access to the tree's root. This process will therefore make proofs considerably more efficient.
Users won't need to keep a lot of data on their computers to function as network validators thanks to The Verge as it will cut storage and reduce node sizes which lead us to the next stage; getting rid of unnecessary old data.
The Purge: Reduces Network Congestion
Scalability is one of Ethereum 2.0's promises, and Vitalik Buterin claims that the network would be able to perform 100,000 transactions per second. Also will be focused on optimizing scalability, the Purge which is very related to the previous stage and will effectively ‘cut down or (purge) the amount of space you have to have on your hard drive’ to run a node, sparing users the outdated historical data in order to eliminate network bottleneck.
By reducing the amount of historical data, validators will be able to validate the blockchain more efficiently under the new proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. This should reduce network congestion and enable a greater number of transactions to be completed on the blockchain.
Buterin has referred to the following phase, the Splurge, as "the fun stuff". The goal of this last upgrade in the pipeline is to deploy a number of minor updates to make sure the network functions as smoothly as possible overall without any hiccups along the way. The difficult task of increasing Ethereum's scalability will be finished.
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