As Ethereum’s long-awaited upgrade nears, miners appear to be switching their rigs over to Ethereum Classic.
Ethereum is set to end mining on its network tonight following the merge, which transitions the network to proof of stake. Meanwhile, the “original” Ethereum chain—Ethereum Classic, which forked back in 2016—has hit an all-time high hash rate of 65.49 terahashes per second (TH/s), according to 2miners.com data.
Hash rate refers to the computational power used to mine a cryptocurrency. Assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic, and Ethereum (before the merge) use a proof-of-work system, which requires lots of powerful computers—and energy—to process transactions.
But Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, today is making its long-awaited move to a proof-of-stake blockchain—replacing miners with validators, people who “stake” the cryptocurrency to keep the network secure and running.
The upgrade will make the network “99% more energy efficient,” according to the Ethereum Foundation. Just about anyone can get involved in the staking process, helping to secure the new network and passively earning ETH, either by staking 32 ETH themselves or by joining a staking pool through an exchange like Coinbase.
But the move leaves former Ethereum miners with potentially nothing to do, so many will likely instead mine Ethereum Classic and other compatible coins, such as Ravencoin.
Ethereum Classic is a hard fork of Ethereum: In 2016, those involved in the cryptocurrency had a disagreement about where the network should go next following The DAO hack, in which $55 million in crypto was stolen due to a vulnerability in the code.
In the end, developers went their separate ways and two new blockchains were created—Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, which trades as ETC.
ETC isn’t as popular as Ethereum, which is used a lot as developers utilize its blockchain to build applications. But miners will need to turn to Ethereum Classic or similar coins to continue to put their hardware to use and remain profitable.
Ethereum Classic is currently the eighteenth-largest cryptocurrency, with a market cap of over $5 billion.