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Ethereum just kicked off a critical test that will decide its future, with $26 billion at stake

March 15, 2022, 5:10 PM UTC

The blockchain powering the second-largest cryptocurrency is facing final preparations to undergo a massive change to its structure, with billions at stake, and it passed the test with flying colors. Mostly.

Kiln, an important test for Ethereum, just finished and puts the blockchain closer than ever before to the “merge.”

The highly anticipated “merge” is the mechanism that will shift Ethereum from a proof-of-work model to proof of stake. The Kiln testnet proves the “merge” is possible, as Kiln launched under proof of work on Monday and transitioned to a Beacon Chain running proof of stake this morning.

Billions of dollars are locked into Ethereum’s proof-of-stake chain already.

However, developers did notice an issue with the network post-completion and have been looking into the issue. 

“It’s hard to tell right now what it is,” Tim Beiko, an Ethereum developer, told Fortune. But “Kiln is, we expect, the last new testnet created solely for the purpose of testing the ‘merge.’ Kiln tried to replicate what will happen [during the ‘merge’] as closely as possible.”

‘A major milestone’

Currently, Ethereum has both a proof-of-work and a proof-of-stake chain running in parallel. While both chains have validators, only the proof-of-work chain processes users’ transactions as of now. Once the “merge” is complete, the Ethereum blockchain will shift fully to the Beacon Chain, just as the Kiln testnet did.

Though the exact date for the “merge” hasn’t been set yet, “we are targeting summer for the transition,” Beiko said.

“This is a major milestone and marks Ethereum’s readiness for full proof of stake,” a Beacon Chain community consultant known as Superphiz tweeted on Monday. “The merge will cut our energy footprint by 99.98%.”

With proof of work, miners must complete complex puzzles to validate transactions. This process requires a lot of computer power and is often criticized owing to its environmental impact. In comparison, under proof of stake, users validate transactions according to how many coins they hold.

In addition to sustainability, the “merge” and mainnet transition aims to improve Ethereum’s scalability and security. 

Much is already invested in this upgrade. There’s currently more than $26 billion staked on the Beacon Chain.

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