In this article, we will discuss details about ethereum 2.0 roadmap and development updates to date.
Ethereum was launched on 30 July 2015 as an improvement over Bitcoin. It aimed to unleash the full capability of a blockchain network enabling smart contracts and applications to run without the need of centralized servers.
It had a profound effect on the FinTech industry as a plethora of crypto projects were launched on the network. It was solely responsible for building the crypto bubble of 2017, which drove the total market capitalization of the market above $750 billion in January. Many altcoins’ including Ethereum topped nearly a month after Bitcoin’s top in mid-December 2017.
Ever since the bubble of late 2017 and early 2018, Ethereum fanatics have been waiting for the launch of 2.0. Until now we should have seen a lot of progress being made on it. However, Vitalik mentions that until now the research has been primarily “without a clear goal.”
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder and leading spokesperson for the Ethereum Foundation re-emphasises on the utility of Ethereum as a medium of payment as well. He tweeted,
Ethereum has a lot of promising applications, but you can use ETH as a plain old cryptocurrency too. It works great.
While Ethereum is an improvement on Bitcoin in terms of speed and transaction cost, it eventually faces scalability issues similar to Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is using the route of Lightning Network (LN), a layer two solution on the protocol to solve the scalability problem, Ethereum is going for a complete revamp.
The launch of ETH 2.0 was initially planned for January 2020. The developing team even introduced a ‘difficulty bomb’ on the mining to push the researchers to finish the update by the designated time. However, the transition process has been delayed further and the ‘difficulty bomb’ was revoked from the protocol early in January 2020 to avoid the network from running into a stalemate.
In an update on 19th March 2020, Buterin posted an update on the roadmap of the release of 2.0. One of the most surprising aspects from his address was the acceptance of ‘blue sky’ research phase.
Serenity is basically the realization of all the updates on Ethereum 1.0 which would mark the completion of 2.0. It includes Constantinople, Casper, Sharding, EWASM and so on.
Here’s a list of improvements that ETH 2.0 will have over the original protocol and Bitcoin cited by Buterin,
1. Sharding and ZKPs (Zcash Protocol) ensure verification cost much cheaper than personally re-computing every tx
2. PoS and not PoW
3. Stateless verification
4. Supports arbitrary smart contracts (like eth today)
5. Supports strong privacy at L2
6. 12s block time, each block equivalent to many confs
How Far Has it Reached?
According to an address by Joseph Lubin, the co-founder of Ethereum and founder of Consensys in October 2019, the team was wary of the scalability issues on Ethereum for a long time. The idea of implementing PoS and plasma dates back to as early as 2015.
In December 2018, Buterin finalized the plans in a public address where he outlined the basic roadmap and highlighted the features to be implemented on ETH 1.0.
The image shown below has been doing the rounds since last year. It outlines the basic roadmap of the launch stages that the current protocol must go through before the final serenity update is up and running.
Ethereum [ETH] 2.0 Basic Roadmap
In February 2019, Constantinople and St. Petersburg’s update was implemented through a hard fork. The hard fork essentially reduced the mining rewards per block from 3 Ether [ETH] to 2.
ETH 1.x is the name for a collection of upgrades to the existing Ethereum protocol. ETH 1.x is already implemented in the test-net version which is running the PoS protocol. The goal is to continue to improve and maintain Ethereum while ETH 2.0 is developed and implemented.
The shift from PoW to PoS means an end to the mining of Ether [ETH]. To implement the same would require slowly phasing the miners out of business.
Even before Buterin’s public address on December 2018, the initiation of the bear market 2018 coupled with the future being PoS, the network saw an end to medium and small scale miners who flooded the network with their GPU rigs in 2016-2017.
While, Bitcoin’s hashrate has been on an uptrend since, despite the bear market, Ethereum miners seem to have reached an impasse.
On 7th May 2019, the Beacon chain test-net was launched which included staking and shards. However, smart contract and EVM-related functionality were excluded from the blockchain. It enabled the conversion of ETH 1.0 via a one-way smart contract which continues to add PoS validators to the ecosystem.
Some of the other updates that have been implemented in the past few years on ETH include.
Vitalik claims that while most of the features of Ethereum 1.0 as a world computer and cryptocurrency will be retained, “Eth2 is all about scale.”
Progress Left to be Made
On 19th March 2020, Vitalik Buterin introduced a new flow chart to represent the scheme of things around the development of 2.0.
The chart is consistent with the previous timelines for Ethereum 2.0 launch and does not imply any changes to the delivery of Eth2 Phase 0 (the beacon chain) or Phase 1 (the shard chains). Nevertheless, paints a more realistic approach to how things might pan out in the future (next 5-10 years).
A minimum of 32 ETH is mandatory for becoming a validator on the Ethereum 2.0 chain. Nevertheless, since the rewards are based on the size of validators as well, it is likely to reap minimal rewards.
Leading Ethereum researcher Justin Drake noted in a recent Ask Me Anything session, they have 95% confidence in the phase 0 launch of 2.0 by the end of July 2020. It will also mark the 5 year anniversary of the Ethereum 1.0 protocol.
Phase 0 – Beacon Chain
The Beacon Chain is a brand new blockchain which will form the backbone of ETH 2.0. It will include allowing a link to the ‘shards’ chain which will further improve scalability.
The reason for the until now has been primarily due to the process of transition from 1.0. Ethereum 2.0 is essentially a new blockchain altogether which requires the support for all network participants. Buterin notes in a recent tweeted,
Additionally, over the last ~2 years there has been an increasing move toward maintaining compatibility and ensuring a smooth transition for applications, as well as making eth1.x and eth2 fit together as part of a coherent vision.
Casper FFG, explained here, is the most important aspect of the Beacon Chain which wil add PoS (Proof of Stake) implementation to the new chain.
The beacon chain will pave the way for the actual implementation of existing smart contracts and applications on the new blockchain in the next phases 1 and 2. Serenity will mark the end to the list of updates when the stability of the new chain will be verified after transition from Eth 1.0.
Who will win the Race for Blockchain Platforms
As it stands today, Ethereum leads the pack when it comes to blockchain platforms and smart contracts. However, there are many projects in the space with higher technical prowess. These include EOS, Tron, NEO, Hadera Hashgraph, and other independent chains like Binance Chain which allows for the issuance of a new cryptocurrency.
Since the overall adoption of blockchain applications is limited at the moment, the 2.0 developers are benefiting from the leeway space offered by the fanatics and due to the existing network effect. Ethereum is still the second-largest cryptocurrency w.r.t. market capitalization with a dominance of over 8% on the total Mcap.
Currently, the leading economic application of Ethereum is the issuance of USDT (tether) on the blockchain worth more than $4.4 billion has already been issued. However, the stable state and successful transition to ETH 2.0 in the future will decide the eventual leader in the space.
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