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Ethereum’s Serenity PoS Roadmap Out

A limited roadmap for the 2.0 Serenity upgrade that will switch Ethereum to Proof of Stake (PoS) from a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus protocol has been unveiled. The Ethereum ecosystem now has a timeframe to look out for starting later this year.

The planned upgrade dubbed the final iteration in Ethereum’s evolution, or Ethereum 2.0, will kick off with the Istanbul hard fork slated for October (it will include updates on ProgPoW). It should be recalled that the network had the Constantinople fork in February also as a grand part of the Serenity upgrade which is expected to happen in multiple stages.

There have been indications of the expected phases in the past but this is the first time an estimated timeline is identified with the four major stages.

Phase 0 will be for the PoS blockchain, Beacon Chain, in 2019 onwards while phase 1 will see Shard Chains come up in 2020 to improve scalability. By 2020 or 2021, phase 2 is expected to kick in the introduction of eWASM which will be an upgrade of the Ethereum virtual machine. Phase 3 will be for continued improvement starting from 2022 and beyond.

According to Ethereum’s lead developer, Vitalik Buterin, Serenity is a combination of pure Casper’s PoS with sharding, eWASM and other ideas derived from their research since 2014. It is the fourth stage after Frontier, Homestead and Metropolis. It will bring about a new blockchain going by its data structure but with a link to the existing PoW chain. It will be a new but connected system that will in the long term host all applications on the existing Ethereum blockchain once it is certified stable enough.

“Serenity is also ‘the world computer’ as it is really meant to be,” Buterin notes in his 2018 Devcon speech . He explains further that the Beacon Chain is to run like a dummy chain (with no applications) parallel to the existing Ethereum 1.0 chain for validators to execute the running of the PoS algorithms – halfway between the testnet and the mainnet.

Initially, users may only be able to send ether from the existing chain to the Beacon Chain (but not the other way round) as a validator by locking 32 ether in a smart contract.

The sharding part for data turns on in phase 1 without the capabilities to build smart contract applications. State transitions including the virtual machine and account contracts would be enabled in phase 2 to allow ether being moved between shards. Phase 3 is for the improvement of all the basic features that Serenity will introduce. They include a projected 1000x scalability and faster transaction confirmation time (about eight to 16 seconds).

Layer 2 solutions are to come later to preserve privacy of coin transfers. Also expected in the post-Serenity stage is the implementation of ‘semi-private chains’ on the Ethereum platform. This enables the building of applications on the public chain but the data kept private between a few users in an encrypted form.


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