Against all odds, Ethereum 2.0 is finally here

Ethereum 2.0
(Image credit: William Hague / The Ethereum Foundation)

The next generation of the Ethereum blockchain, known as Ethereum 2.0, went live today at 07:00 ET/12:00 UTC.

With just one week to go before the Ethereum 2.0 staking deadline, which was set to determine whether or not the network transitioned to its new-look system, under 20% of the necessary value had been pledged, casting doubts over the endeavour.

However, a significant injection of ETH (the cryptocurrency underpinning the network) into the Ethereum 2.0 deposit contract in the final week saw the necessary 524,000 ETH threshold reached with just hours to go until the deadline.

Now, according to figures from Dune Analytics, 166% of the necessary total has been committed (equal to more than $500 million at current market rates), by a total of 2,750 unique depositors.

Ethereum 2.0 goes live

Ethereum 2.0, which has been in the works for years now, will roll out in phases over the coming months, but the launch of the Beacon Chain today (referred to as Phase 0) represents the all-important first step.

The most significant change is that the consensus mechanism underpinning the Ethereum blockchain has transitioned from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), which is generally considered to be a more effective and energy-efficient means of maintaining the network. 

The second main improvement is the addition of sharding to the Ethereum network with Phase 1, set to roll out at some point next year. With the introduction of sharding, only a portion of nodes need validate any given transaction, thereby increasing the network’s throughput dramatically.

In the past, Ethereum has been criticized for lacking the scalability that would allow it to compete with legacy systems (e.g. Visa). But by effectively dividing the network into lanes, the maximum number of transactions processed per second by Ethereum 2.0 will increase by magnitudes.

According to an FAQ on the ConsenSys website, Phase 2 (2021-2022) is currently slightly less well defined, but will likely entail support for cross-shard transfers, the introduction of execution environments that allow devs to build effectively on top of Ethereum 2.0 and the final termination of PoW.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.