Image source: www.coinscrum.com
Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir has released the first version of the Casper protocol upgrade. The code was published on Tuesday, November 21, following its initial presentation at Devcon3 earlier this month. Its aim is to fundamentally rework the creation and propagation of blocks on the Ethereum network. It's actually the first of two simultaneous attempts to develop new code for Casper; the other one is being led by network creator Vitalik Buterin.
Zamfir's approach to Casper comes mere days after the release of a white paper with the title 'Casper the Friendly Ghost'. This paper has its focus on "correct-by-construction" consensus protocols, with the objective of simplifying the way blockchains achieve consensus within a "partially synchronous" network. Essentially, it's attempting to simplify the blockchain.
This approach is different from Buterin's white papers - he had previously published a three-part explanation detailing his vision of Casper. While Zamfir's code may only affect a small part of the overall effort, the fact that it has been published signifies a new phase in Ethereum development, which will bring the cryptocurrency closer to overhauling the existing infrastructure that makes up the foundation of the network.
Today, miners discover and add blocks through a proof-of-work process, not dissimilar to the way Bitcoin functions (with some unique Ethereum features to make it stand out). This process is both energy-intensive and competitive, forcing miners to invest in power-hungry graphics cards. This cycle has led firms like Nivida and AMD to report substantial revenues due to a renewed interest in the mining of cryptocurrencies.
Casper, when fully realised, would cause a shift away from the existing mining model entirely. Nodes could enact the mining process by essentially depositing funds - the 'stake' part in 'proof-of-stake' - and having them held over time, thus generate rewards as that node unveils each new block.