Ethereum developers reached a significant landmark with the first mainnet shadow fork going live as it continues to transition the network to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). Marius Van Der Wijden, one of the main developers for Ethereum, tweeted that they are roughly 690 blocks (~2h) away from TTD. He highlighted that the new shadow fork merge was a trial for the actual merge.
The developer said the shadow fork merge processed 1,558,014 transactions within an average block time of 13.8 seconds. The actual merge will replace the existing energy-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) mechanism, which is currently used to validate Ethereum transactions. The PoS will have transactions validated by nodes run by stakers than miners. As such, users will be able to validate transactions based on the number of coins or stakes they have contributed to the network.
Users staking more coins have a greater chance of being selected to authenticate transactions on the network and receive a reward. PoS’s main drawback is the need for high levels of crypto expertise to navigate the migration process. But then its important to be comfortable with the entire process because each step is expensive and risky. Experts say a simulation cannot predict the crypto-economics involved.
The Ethereum Foundation has tried shadow forks on the Goerli testnet, which is used to test decentralized applications. There were multiple issues with this in terms of timeouts. Kiln, another subsequent testnet, merged the PoW execution layer with PoS Beacon Chain. Parithosh, an Ethereum developer, explained that the aim of the Kiln merge testnet was to allow the community to practice running nodes, deploy contracts, and test infrastructure, etc.
But they needed a way to stress test their assumptions around syncing and state growth as it’s a fresh testnet with little activity. They also wanted a way to check their assumptions work on existing testnets or mainnet. This brought about the release of the mainnet shadow fork.