What Is The Ethereum Merge, And Why Does It Matter?

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The final countdown has arrived here. Finally, one of crypto’s most significant milestones is close on the horizon after months and months of delays. 

The media dubbed this history-making event ‘the Merge,’ the cumulation of Ethereum’s long-awaited shift from a Proof of Work (PoW) to a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. The stakes are massive.

So What Is The Ethereum Merge, And Why Is It Important?

To start, a successful merge means Ethereum’s energy consumption will nosedive by 99.95%. Crypto’s long been a focus of concern from environmentalists who worry about PoW blockchains chewing up large amounts of power. https://giphy.com/vmas

Earlier in September, the Ethereum network was estimated to consume as much power each year as the entire country of Bangladesh. 

Some also speculate that a successful Merge will boost Ethereum’s price, notable in a year where crypto’s total market capitalization has dramatically plummeted. 

In an early September report, Chainalysis wrote that Ether (ETH) could decouple from other virtual currencies post-merge “as its staking rewards will make it similar to an instrument like a bond or commodity with a carry premium.”

Others argue that boosted scalability post-Merge and the allure of a ‘greener’ crypto will drive up Ethereum prices. 

Learn More About The Long-Awaited Ethereum Merge Below


What Does The Merge Look Like?

The Merge is when the ‘Paris’ network upgrade comes into effect. This execution layer officially transforms Ethereum into a PoS blockchain. Once this occurs, the Beacon Chain (which is already running with more than 13 million staked ETH) will immediately validate transactions based on PoS. In addition, the mainnet, total Ethereum transaction history, smart contract, and balance since July 2015 will also merge. 

Paris will trigger once the Terminal Total Difficulty threshold is achieved. As Coinbase notes, “TTD represents the fixed number of hashes that are left to mine until Proof-of-Stake officially takes over.”

When Will The Merge Actually Occur?

The precise date and time the Merge will occur are not yet known. But we do know, according to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, that it’s expected sometime between September 13th and 15th

In mid-August, Ethereum team member Danny Ryan wrote, based on a tentative TTD threshold, “the target date is September 15, 2022, but this estimate might have even a week of error.”

Users and ETH holders do not need to take any action before and after the Merge. Wallets and funds are protected and not impacted.

How Did We Get To This Point?

Put succinctly – the upcoming Merge is the product of massive amounts of work by the Ethereum team amid numerous delays, speculation, hopes, and uncertainty. 

Initially, Ethereum community members shifted to PoS in 2017, with initial hopes to Merge in 2019. 

The Beacon Chain itself did not go live until December 2020, deemed as “phase 0” of the transition to PoS. Speculation earlier in 2022 was that The Merge would take place in June, but Ethereum team members indicated in April that this date was not feasible. 

What Are The Next Steps For Ethereum?

In the short term, many look forward to Ethereum’s improved scalability as newly introduced systems enable Layer2 products like sharding and rollups. Sharding essentially creates numerous mini-blockchains by breaking up data for greater support. 

Ethereum team members plan to usher in Verkle trees after the Merge to optimize storage and slash node size for better scalability. 

The so-called “Purge” and “Splurge” relates to post-Merge work by developers to get rid of excess historical data to improve blockchain efficiency and ensure smooth network operation and that all implemented updates have no issue.  

As the Merge date grows near, many within the crypto world predict a smooth and glitch-free process. Nevertheless, the Merge represents a milestone for the crypto world and a new chapter for Ethereum. 

Until then, we wait. 

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