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Ethereum Launches Kintsugi Testnet to Prepare for Merge

The blockchain's mainnet and Beacon Chain are expected to merge in the first half of 2022.

Ethereum Launches Kintsugi Testnet to Prepare for Merge
Kintsugi pottery; Shutterstock photo by Chrissi Aust Fotografie

Key Takeaways

  • The Ethereum Foundation has launched the Kintsugi testnet, the next step in development for Ethereum 2.0.
  • Kintsugi is a step toward the blockchain's "merge," which will replace Proof-of-Work consensus with Proof-of-Stake.
  • It is thought that merge will likely take place in the first half of 2022.

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Ethereum has launched its Kintsugi testnet, the latest step toward replacing its Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism with Proof-of-Stake.

Kintsugi Is a Step Toward Proof-of-Stake

Ethereum Foundation member Tim Beiko posted today that the Kintsugi testnet is now live. Though little will change for app developers, they and others are encouraged to use the testnet.

“The Kintsugi testnet provides the community an opportunity to experiment with post-merge Ethereum and begin to identify any issues,” Beiko wrote in his announcement.

Kintsugi helps prepare for Ethereum 2.0’s “merge.” The merge will combine Ethereum’s current mainnet, which handles transactions, with Ethereum 2.0’s Beacon Chain, which handles staking. If successful, this will replace Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism with Proof-of-Stake, effectively ending the energy-intensive process of mining.

Though there have been shorter-lived “ephemeral devnets,” Beiko says that the Kintsugi testnet will be longer-lived.

It appears that the testnet went live several days before it was widely announced, as early as Thursday, Dec. 16.

Merge Will Occur in First Half of 2022

Ethereum 2.0 went live in December 2020 with “Phase 0.” This step involved the launch of the Beacon Chain, which introduced staking as a means of generating rewards for node operators. It did not employ staking for consensus purposes, as the merge intends to do.

The merge between the mainnet and Beacon Chain is scheduled for Q1 or Q2 of 2022. Earlier discussions suggested that this merge could be fast-tracked to arrive before the end of 2021, but this appears to have failed. The merge is also known as “Phase 1.5.”

Following the merge, Ethereum 2.0 will move toward “Phase 2.” This will introduce sharding, a scalability feature that will improve fees and transaction times. Sharding is expected to arrive in late 2022.

Over 8.4 million ETH has been staked on Ethereum 2.0’s Beacon Chain, according to a November report from ConsenSys.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies.

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