The Ropsten Test Network, the oldest Ethereum testnet, successfully merged its Proof-of-Work (PoW) execution layer with the Beacon Chain Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus chain.
This event means Ethereum is one more step closer to a full merge, when its PoS Beacon Chain, still under testing, will merge with the PoW execution to create a full PoS Ethereum blockchain.
Originally, just like Bitcoin, Ethereum was just a Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain, but introduced a PoS Beacon Chain on December 1, 2020 with about 9,500,000 ETH ($37 billion, in current value) already staked.
According to Ethereum, Proof-of-Stake comes with a number of improvements to the Proof-of-Work system:
Better energy efficiency – You don’t need to use lots of energy mining blocks
Lower barriers to entry, reduced hardware requirements – You don’t need elite hardware to stand a chance of creating new blocks
Stronger immunity to centralization – Proof-of-Stake should lead to more nodes in the network
Stronger support for shard chains – A key upgrade in scaling the Ethereum network
The complexity of such a change to Ethereum’s code requires multiple tests on various testnets. Ropsten’s merge is the first test of its kind, and its outcome will help to inform developers’ future steps as they proceed toward the real Merge on mainnet.
Other testnet merges on Goerli and Seoplia are expected to happen in the coming months.