After making blockchain history with the first-ever shadow fork, Ethereum’s plan of action for its new consensus layer is changing. Ethereum has delayed "The Merge," which means it will take longer for the network to achieve full PoS (proof-of-stake) operability.
How long will the delay push back the Ethereum merger, and when will the highly anticipated consensus layer finally launch?
Ethereum developers announced a merger delay after the shadow fork.
Ethereum launched a shadow fork of its mainnet blockchain recently. The move was an attempt to test parts of the new “consensus layer,” which will operate on a PoS consensus mechanism (compared to the existing proof-of-work, or PoW, mainnet) when the merger completes.
Marius Van Der Wijden, the developer who created the shadow fork, wrote on Twitter on April 11, “The mainnet shadow fork was a huge success! Nethermind and Besu stopped at the transition, but a fix is being deployed for Nethermind that allows them to sync up. Geth and Erigon are progressing happily. All beacon chain clients are in agreement.”
Despite this success, the Ethereum merger has been delayed to further test the network and ensure there are no bugs. Ethereum calls this step “The Merge.” It refers to the moment when the mainnet blockchain will finally merge with the Beacon Chain. This is the move that will enable staking, which is a staple of PoS blockchains.
How long is Ethereum delaying "The Merge"?
Ethereum originally planned to launch "The Merge" in June of this year. Ethereum developer Tim Beiko followed up on Twitter about this, stating, “It won't be June, but likely in the few months after. No firm date yet, but we're definitely in the final chapter of PoW on Ethereum.”
Here's what to expect from Ethereum’s new PoS launch date.
Beiko discussed the launch date for "The Merge" and said, “A date will only be set once client teams are confident that the software implementations have been thoroughly tested and are bug-free.”
Originally slotted for the second quarter, "The Merge" will likely hit in the second half of the year or later.
Ethereum formerly referred to "The Merge" as “the docking” but changed the name to better reflect the process. According to the network, this step “eliminates the need for energy-intensive mining, and instead secures the network using staked ether. A truly exciting step in realizing the Ethereum vision – more scalability, security, and sustainability.”
"The Merge" is actually not the last step in the transition to PoS. The subsequent step is called “Shard Chains.” According to Ethereum, “Shard chains will expand Ethereum’s capacity to process transactions and store data. The shards themselves will gain more features over time, rolled out in multiple phases.”
Because of the delay in the merger phase, Ethereum will likely also delay this step. Recently projected to finish the full transition by 2024, the crypto community may be held in wait an extra year or more. Ethereum first announced the consensus layer (formerly Ethereum 2.0) in 2018 and planned to release the beginning phase in 2019. In reality, developers only launched the first phase in December 2020, so delays are nothing new here.