In brief

  • ETH 2.0 beacon chain genesis is expected in the next 6–8 weeks, said Ethereum developer Ben Edgington.
  • At the same time, the Medalla testnet is suffering from a lack of network participation.
  • The majority of testers are using the Prysm Ethereum 2.0 client, overlooking other projects.

The Ethereum 2.0 deposit contract—the last “missing link” that would allow sending ETH between both iterations of the blockchain—is essentially “good to go,” according to Ben Edgington, the product owner for ETH 2.0 client Teku at ConsenSys (which funds an editorially independent Decrypt).

“I am expecting news about the deposit contract any day now. Probably about 10 minutes after I publish this,” wrote Edgington in a development update post published on October 18. While stressing that his update was not an official statement, he laid out a potential timeline for the next steps. “Basically, as I understand it, we are good to go: deposit contract in the next few days; beacon chain genesis 6-8 weeks later.”

Edgington also urged users to be vigilant, as many fake deposit contracts and launchpad front-ends will likely surface in the coming days. To avoid any losses, users shouldn’t send their ETH to random contracts since “this is not DeFi.”

What is Ethereum 2.0?

The Ethereum 2.0 update aims to address the network’s scalability and security through upgrading to a proof of stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.

The first stage of ETH 2.0 deployment, dubbed “Phase 0,” will require over 16,000 validators—users running the software—and 500,000 ETH deposited.

“After the slightly bumpy genesis dress rehearsal with the Spadina network, we did it all again with Zinken. It wasn’t perfect, but went smoothly enough for us to turn our thoughts now towards the real thing,” wrote Edgington.

Ethereum 2.0’s Medalla woes

It’s not all plain sailing, though. The Medalla testnet, launched in August 2020, “is suffering from very low participation,” noted Edgington, suggesting that “people are getting a bit bored of testnets” and “it’s time to move on.”

Indeed, according to Ethereum 2.0 beacon chain explorer Beaconcha.in, Medalla is currently missing nearly 15,000 validators to achieve finality—a state when each block in a proof-of-stake blockchain, such as ETH 2.0, is declared final. This means that all the current and previous transactions are permanent, immutable and guaranteed forever.

At press time, Medalla’s network participation amounted to only 45%—compared to the required minimum of 66%—and the last time the testnet has achieved finality was almost 1,700 epochs ago.

ETH 2.0 Deposit Contract is ‘Basically Good to Go,’ says ConsenSys Dev
The Medalla testnet is suffering from very low participation. Image: Beaconcha

“I wrote a thing about why the testnets don’t really cut it any more, and we need to launch Phase 0 asap,” Edgington argued.

Simultaneously, he also noted that the testing is somewhat one-sided on the client front, with the Prysm Ethereum 2.0 client dominating over other projects such as Lighthouse, Nimbus and Teku (on which Edgington himself is working).

“I am really very disappointed that all the advice about client diversity is falling on deaf ears. Prysm is a fine client, but there are other clients out there that can more than capably hold their own. Please stop risking yourselves and the network by all piling onto a single client,” he wrote.

Ethereum’s transition to ETH 2.0 doesn’t end with the launch of the deposit contract or the beacon chain. It’s expected to be a drawn-out process, following Phase 0, Phase 1, due in 2021, will see the integration of proof of stake shard chains, while Phase 2, expected in 2021/22, will see shards becoming fully functional and compatible with smart contracts.