- The Ethereum developers have published an update on Ethereum 2.0, Phase 0.
- The update states that development is progressing as planned. Phase 0 is also explained in detail.
The Ethereum Istanbul Hard Fork is only a few days away. As soon as it has been activated on December 07, 2019, the Ethereum community will focus more and more on the development of Ethereum 2.0 whose launch is approaching. To inform the community with the latest information about Eth2, especially Phase 0, a new post has been published on the official Ethereum blog of Carl Beekhuizen.
Launch in multiple phases
Ethereum 2.0, also called Eth2 or Serenity, will bring Sharding, Proof of Stake (PoS), a new virtual machine (eWASM) and many more innovations. At the beginning it is important to know that the upgrade will take place in phases.
At this stage, Phase 0 seems to be scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2020. As Beekhuizen describes, the developers are currently refining the client software, while “the specification for Phase 1 has already been completed, and Phase 2 is in active research and development”.
Phase 0 provides the basic functionality for the Beacon Chain, the validators and the coordination of Shards. Phase 1 builds on this by storing data in the shards. Phase 2 adds execution to Ethereum 2.0 by “updating Eth2 from a robust database to a fully distributed computing platform”.
The roadmap foresees 6 phases according to Ethereum Wiki, with phases 1 and 2 scheduled for 2020 and 2021, respectively, assuming that phase 0 can start on time in the first quarter of next year.
Phase 0 thus marks the start of the Beacon Chain, which will manage the Casper Proof of Stake protocol. Once this phase is activated, there will be two parallel Ethereum Blockchains, Eth1, the old Proof of Work (PoW) Blockchain, and Eth2, the new Beacon Chain.
In this phase, users can migrate their ETH from Eth1 to Eth2 and become validators and participate in staking. However, it will not yet be possible to stake and earn Ether (ETH). In order to use the Beacon Chain, the validators need a Beacon Chain Client. These are currently being developed separately by a number of teams.
For most users, these processes will be running silently. Existing applications will continue to run without changes. All account balances, contract codes and contract stores will be taken over in the background and code paths will be changed. So the Beacon Chain will not really be spectacularly visible on the surface. But as the first component of Ethereum 2.0 to be delivered, it is the foundation of the entire system, for all further phases.
Ethereum 2.0: Phase 0 – What will the network look like?
In the background, in phase 0 of Ethereum 2.0, numerous new and complex processes will take place, which Ben Edgington has very nicely summarized:
There are a number of aspects to this: managing validators and their stakes; nominating the chosen block proposer for each shard at each step; organizing validators into committees to vote on the proposed blocks; applying the consensus rules; applying rewards and penalties to validators; and, being an anchor point on which the shards register their states to facilitate cross-shard transactions
This summary shows the complexity of Ethereum 2.0. For Phase 0, Carl Beekhuizen has tried to shed some light and explain in detail what happens in Phase 0. The core component, as already mentioned, is the Beacon Chain.
The main task of the Beacon Chain will be the “attestation”. These attestations are approval votes for a Shard block and at the same time proof for the stake votes for a Beacon block. It thus creates a consensus about who the validators are and what their stakes are, to know how many votes they are worth, and to reward and/or punish them appropriately for their behavior. A difference to other PoS blockchains will be the huge repertoire of validators:
Part of what differentiates eth2 from other PoS systems is the sheer number of validators that can participate in the protocol. In contrast to the 10s, 100s, and 1000s of participants that are possible in other systems, eth2 scales to hundreds of thousands or even millions of validators.
This degree of decentralisation is to be achieved by grouping the validators into committees. The votes of a committee are then cryptographically combined into one confirmation.
In addition, the Beacon Chain also has the task of tracking the old Eth1 blockchain. This also means that new validators can join Eth2 by sending 32 Ethers (ETH) to the Deposit Contract on Eth1. However, it is important to note that there is currently no possibility that Eth2 can be transferred back (to Eth1) from the Beacon Chain in Phase 0. Once deposited in the validator registration contract, ETH1 will be effectively burned.