The Journey Towards Proof of Stake: Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0 Testnet Released

Ethereum

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Prysmatic Labs, an Ethereum development team focused on implementing Ethereum 2.0, including full proof-of-stake and sharding, has launched a public testnet for phase 0 of it.

This is a significant milestone as phase 0 testnet will allow users on the network to stake their ETH and become validators. The testnet is a single client Prysm-only network.

Phase Zero Ready for Testing

Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, announced back in 2017 that the blockchain would be making a switch from its current Proof of Work (PoW) protocol to Proof of Stake (PoS). Ever since, developers have been working on building the new blockchain called Ethereum 2.0.

On Tuesday, May 7, Prysmatic Labs published a blog post announcing that it has released the phase 0 testnet, an essential milestone for the PoS network. The phase 0 functionality will allow users to stake cryptocurrencies and act as validators in the network while earning rewards in the process.

In the blog post, the team explained that users interested in becoming validators on the network will need to store 3.2 Ether from the Goerli testnet. Storing the coins and acting as validators in the new system would allow them to earn rewards via the staking consensus.

The developers explained that each validator would accrue returns and penalties on the network depending on their behavior. The PoS mechanism is one that promotes liveness, which makes sure that the blockchain can continue even if the majority of validators are offline. However, a validator that is offline for an extended period would cause deposits to be penalized and would see the affected individuals lose funds as a result.

Scalability remains one of the biggest challenges facing the Ethereum blockchain, and PoS would help to improve that. Ethereum 2.0 is being developed with the idea of shards, which are coordinated by the beacon chain. Since phase 0 and Ethereum 2.0 implements this beacon chain, it will have shards which allow horizontal scalability on the blockchain. Thus, transactions can be carried out on the new chain parallel to the current Ethereum PoW network.

Phase Zero Testnet Not Built for a Large Number of Validators

The developers discussed both the current abilities and the hindrances of phase 0. At the moment, Prysm is the only client for the testnet. However, upgrading it to a multi-client system is a critical step the developers would take in the future. Also, the team assured the Ethereum community that the testnet is not a simulation and is publicly accessible.

However, it also has some drawbacks such as the fact that the network is currently not optimized to handle a vast number of validators. Without the super-optimal LMD GHOST fork-choice rule, attestation aggregation, and a few other features, Ethereum 2.0 can only host a limited number of validators at the testnet stage.

The testnet doesn’t have smart contracts or EVM functions yet as those will come when phase 2 of Ethereum 2.0 is launched. The testnet also doesn’t include transfer and withdrawal services, which will come later on the beacon chain.

Vitalik Buterin has been a champion of Ethereum’s move to the PoS protocol. Last month, he proposed that the network should adopt a higher staking reward when the PoS protocol is implemented. According to his proposal, 2,097,152 ETH would be issued annually when 134,217,728 ETH coins are staked. This would ensure that stakers get an annual return of 1.56 percent.

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