Ethereum’s Game-Changing ‘Merge’ Is Almost Here As Devs Test First Mainnet Shadow Fork

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Today, April 11, Ethereum developers have successfully launched the first-ever mainnet Proof of stake (PoS) shadow fork even as the “merge” beckons.

According to Marius van der Wijden, an Ethereum developer, christened as the “mainnet-shadow-fork-1,” the test which was conducted alongside Ethereum 2.0 beacon testnet is the latest and most symbolic step so far in the switch from PoW to PoS.

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The shadow fork entails stress testing assumptions around existing testnets and/or mainnet with regard to syncing and state growth in the run-up to the merge. As of writing, the team has already “noticed some seemingly minor issues” with various core implementation nodes on the Ethereum network which it seeks to optimize over the next few weeks.

On March 15, the dev team launched the Kiln execution layer under proof-of-work in parallel to a Beacon Chain running proof-of-stake. The Kiln testnet is aimed at allowing the community to practice running their nodes, deploying contracts, and testing infrastructure in a bid to help the community get a sense of the post-merger world. Kiln is now running entirely under proof-of-stake.

Before Kiln, there was Kintsugi, a merge testnet named after the Japanese art of breaking pottery and fixing it using gold, which makes it stronger and more beautiful.

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Although the merge date is still unannounced, Ethereum devs have hinted at what to expect for the merge to ensue. As per a blog post last month, “Assuming no issues are found with Kiln, once clients have finalized the details of their implementations, the existing Ethereum testnets (Goerli, Ropsten, etc.) will run through The Merge.” Again, if these testnets have successfully transitioned and stabilized without any issue, a terminal total difficulty value or (the amount of total difficulty reached by the network that triggers the consensus upgrade) will be set for the mainnet transition. “Only then will it be possible to estimate the exact date for The Merge” the blog read.

Researchers however expect Ethereum’s upcoming merge between the mainnet and the Beacon chain PoS consensus to happen before the end of Q2.

Already, both institutional and individual traders have begun ramping up ahead of the merge, with the value of staked Ether evidently staying stable. Currently, Ether’s TVL sits at $150.34b which is about 54.87% of Defi’s total value locked (TVL) as per data from DefiLlama.

Traditional market players such as Goldman Sachs and CME have also launched ether-pegged derivatives as demand for the asset continues to soar with pundits predicting that Ether’s price with rocket post-merge.