Ethereum switched on its proof-of-stake mechanism in 2022 because it is more secure, less energy-intensive, and better for implementing new scaling solutions compared to the previous proof-of-work architecture. Moreover, the Bitcoin Spark network includes a separate layer for smart contracts, which can use different programming languages. This layer reaches consensus on the main network but allows innovative dApps to be developed without causing transaction congestion.

  • The plan is to merge it with the main Ethereum chain in the next few months.
  • The fork may automatically create duplicates of coins, NFTs, smart contracts existing within Ethereum.
  • Its potential for disrupting the crypto space makes it an intriguing project to watch.
  • However, a strength of proof-of-stake over proof-of-work is that the community has flexibility in mounting a counter-attack.

That means these centralized entities have a much higher likelihood of being assigned blocks of transactions to add to the chain—and may end up having an outsized say-so in what is and isn’t allowed on the network. The threat of a 51% attack still exists in proof-of-stake but it’s even more risky for the attackers. Not only is this a lot of money but it would probably cause ETH’s value to drop.

Ethereum Q3 2020 DeFi Report

Consensus mechanisms are the backbone of all blockchains, as the underlying rules that determine how a network functions. Bitcoin Spark, or BTCS, is a novel cryptocurrency project aiming to improve upon the limitations of Bitcoin and, in some aspects, Ethereum. It uses a radical blockchain technology known as Proof-Of-Process (PoP), which is a hybrid of Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) models.

Proof of stake is a type of consensus mechanism used by blockchain networks to achieve distributed consensus. Ethereum is a multi-billion dollar network now, at current prices, so its governing foundation and users are more cautious and considering many more failure scenarios. Some experts also predict that if miners may be dissatisfied with the new ecosystem, they may create a competing chain. Even though it doesn’t seem like a problem at first, the issue is the duplicate. The fork may automatically create duplicates of coins, NFTs, smart contracts existing within Ethereum. Here is an easy-to-understand table with the pros and cons of each mechanism to better understand the difference.

Full nodes

What makes these attacks especially dangerous is that in many cases very little capital or technical know-how is required. For example, if censorship or finality reversion were achieved by a malicious majority stakeholder, undermining the social layer might make it more difficult to coordinate a community response out-of-band. The reward, penalty and slashing design of the consensus mechanism encourages individual validators to behave correctly. However, from these design choices emerges a system that strongly incentivizes equal distribution of validators across multiple clients, and should strongly disincentivize single-client dominance.

Ethereum Proof of Stake Mode

A community with gatekeepers and exclusivity is one especially vulnerable to social attack because it is easy to build “us and them” narratives. Tribalism and toxic maximalism hurt the community and erode Layer 0 security. Ethereans with a vested interest in the security of the network should view their conduct online and in meatspace as a direct contributor to the security of Ethereum’s Layer 0. Read more about rewards and penalties in the consensus specs(opens in a new tab)↗. Rewards and penalties were adjusted in the Bellatrix upgrade – watch Danny Ryan and Vitalik discuss this in this Peep an EIP video(opens in a new tab)↗. And though staking is not as directly damaging to the planet as warehouses full of computer systems, critics point out that proof of stake is no more effective than proof of work at maintaining decentralization.

Why Ethereum is switching to proof of stake and how it will work

Bitcoin Spark’s mining approach is a significant departure from traditional methods. Bitcoin’s PoW model involves solving complex mathematical problems using high-end computers, consuming a lot of energy. In contrast, Ethereum’s PoS model requires participants to lock a certain amount of ETH to earn validation rights. In December 2020, Ethereum launched the “beacon chain,” a proof-of-stake chain that ran in parallel with the main Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum Proof of Stake Mode

Proof-of-stake is more decentralized than proof-of-work because mining hardware arms races tend to price out individuals and small organizations. While anyone can technically start mining with modest hardware, their likelihood of receiving any reward is vanishingly small compared to institutional mining operations. With proof-of-stake, the cost of staking and the percentage return on that stake are the same for everyone.

What Is Proof of Stake (PoS)?

The merge needs to happen first because these shard chains rely on staking. Of course, if you’re an Ethereum miner, you’ll be out of a job after the merge—you’ll have to mine somewhere else. Large-scale mining companies have been forced to rethink their business models, while many miners are expected to pivot to other proof-of-work blockchains. Some of these, such as Ethereum Classic and ETHPoW, are hard forks of the Ethereum blockchain. The merge switched the mainnet version of Ethereum—the part that supports transactions and smart contracts—to be part of the beacon chain. Following the merge, the proof-of-work part of Ethereum will fall away, and mining will be gone forever.

A malicious validator might therefore aim to control as much staked ether as possible. There are also some actions that are very difficult to do accidentally and signify some malicious intent, such as proposing multiple blocks for the same slot or attesting to multiple blocks for the same slot. These are “slashable” behaviors that result in the validator having some amount of ether (up to 1 ETH) burned before the validator is removed from the network, which takes 36 days. The slashed validator’s ether slowly drains away across the exit period, but on Day 18 they receive a “correlation penalty” which is larger when more validators are slashed around the same time. The consensus mechanism’s incentive structure therefore pays for honesty and punishes bad actors.