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Ethereum’s Ambitious Proof-of-Stake Upgrade ‘Casper’ Sees First Release

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:07 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:07 PM

Ethereum took another important step toward its eventual transition from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), as developers published the first release for the much-anticipated Casper network upgrade.

Casper v0.1.0, released  on Tuesday by New Orleans-based developer Danny Ryan, provides client developers, auditors, and other external parties to more easily integrate the source code into their software for testing.

“v0.1.0 marks us more clearly tagging releases to help clients and external auditors more easily track the contract and changes,” Ryan wrote.

Casper is a core component of the ethereum community’s ambitious plan to change the way the network updates the blockchain and secures it against would-be attackers.

At present, ethereum achieves consensus through PoW, which is colloquially referred to as mining. Developers desire to shift ethereum to PoS, through which node operators would deposit or “stake” ether to become network validators.

Shifting to PoS, they argue, will mitigate “wasted electricity” consumed by mining, which is a computing-intensive process. Since network validators will have lower overhead under PoS, proponents claim that ethereum’s inflation rate can be lowered accordingly.

Once Casper is activated on the network, ethereum will use a hybrid consensus algorithm that combines elements from both PoW and PoS. Initially, consensus will primarily be achieved through PoW, though PoS will gradually take on a heavier workload in subsequent releases.

Ethereum will not be the first cryptocurrency to experiment with PoS, but critics argue that previous implementations have failed to incentivize validators to operate honestly — and punish them when they don’t.

Consequently, ethereum’s developers have spent years building their instance of PoS, and though it’s still not clear when Casper will come online on the mainnet it appears that the upgrade is finally taking shape — and this development could not have come at a better time.

As CCN.com reported, the transition to PoS has taken on even greater urgency in recent months, as Chinese mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain has revealed that it has developed an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miner compatible with the previously ASIC-resistant Equihash mining algorithm.

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