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Ethereum’s upgrade from a PoW mechanism to PoS successfully completed the essential Merge testing stage, which was trialed on a shadow fork.
Shadow Fork Testing Successful
The shadow fork is a private mainnet staging area where The Merge trial was conducted. It refers to copying data from a mainnet network (Ethereum blockchain) to a testnet, where developers can test features before deploying their work to the main network. It helps show how nodes would react in an expanded state and with a complex transaction history. The data obtained from the testing would shine a light on the transition and how the new nodes will behave when they join the network after the merge.
Ethereum engineer Tim Beiko commented on the importance of running the shadow fork test, saying,
“Shadow Forking mainnet is incredibly useful because it shows us how nodes react in the harshest possible conditions: when their state and history are large and transactions are the most complex. After a mainnet shadow fork, we can also test how stable nodes are, how well they sync, etc. when trying to join the forked network. This gives us data not only on the transition itself but also on how new nodes behave when they join the network in a post-merge state.”
Engineers Fixing Minor Bugs
The shadow forking test is the first of the two test stages before the upgrade goes entirely live on the public mainnet. The results of the trial were mostly favorable. Cross-chain node operability from Ethereum’s main execution layer and its Beacon chain consensus mechanism was successfully tested in the shadow forking. However, Ethereum Foundation member Parithosh Jayanthi pointed out a few difficulties with the two client blocks.
“The merge pandas have arrived! Mainnet-shadow-fork-1 hit TTD ~half an hour ago. We've been finalizing and producing blocks! We quickly noticed some seemingly minor issues with Nethermind and Besu(triage ongoing). Erigon is currently syncing to head, status update later.”
Network engineers are working to address the matter and will reportedly rerun the shadow fork again on April 22, 2022.
The Kiln Testnet
In March, the Ethereum Foundation successfully conducted a demo of the Merge on the final public testnet, the Kiln. With the success of the trial, it was clear that the next and final step of merging the main Ethereum network and its parallel Beacon chain would finally be achieved. Even though no concrete timelines have been announced regarding the final upgrade to the Proof-of-Stake network, experts believe that the positive results from the shadow fork testing have set the ball rolling for the final merge.
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