As Ethereum transitions to full Proof-of-Stake (PoS), this represents a boon to validators who will be confirming transactions on the blockchain.
A validator is an entity that participates in the consensus of Ethereum 2.0 protocol. Or in other words, a human running a computer process. This process proposes and vouches for new blocks to be added to the blockchain.
In other words, you can think of a validator as a voter for new blocks. The more votes a block gets, the more likely it is to be added to the chain.
Importantly, a validator’s vote is weighted by the amount it has at stake.
Before you can run a validator and start to secure the network, you need to stake 32 ETH. This forms your initial balance. As a validator, you’ll need to have funds at stake so you can be penalized for behaving dishonestly.
In other words, to keep you honest, your actions need to have financial consequences.
The only way to become a validator is to make a one way, non-reversible ETH transaction to the deposit contract on the current Ethereum chain.
You will need to be able to run commands in the terminal on your computer. Generating your new Eth2 key pairs and installing the validator software are both done on the terminal. In Ethereum 1.0, users have a single private key to access their funds. Ethereum 2.0 requires two different key pairs – validator keys and withdrawal keys.
Here are a few system requirements that you will need to run a node:
To process incoming validator deposits from the Eth1 chain, you’ll need to run an Eth1 client as well as your Eth2 client.
You can use a third-party service like Infura. As of February 2021, you need ~400GB for the Eth1 mainnet chain data alone (growing at ~1GB/day). Be sure to account for enough space on your drive until you run maintenance on your node.
Check with client documentation to ensure the hardware you want to use is sufficient and supported. Resource usage can vary significantly between clients. Research the different clients if you’re working with resource constraints.
Ideally, your internet connection should be reliable and as close to 24/7 as possible without interruption.
Ensure your bandwidth can’t be throttled and isn’t capped so your node stays in sync and will be ready to validate when called. You need enough upload bandwidth too. As of February 2021 this is ~700-800 MB/hour and is likely to increase.