A hotly anticipated change aimed at ridding ethereum of its bitcoin-inspired mining process is moving forward in testing, with the platform's popular software clients now participating in review.
Following on an April software release that saw the idea formalized in code, the upgrade looks to transition the world's second largest blockchain into a new way to keep those running its software in sync. However, the current iteration of the idea (called Casper FFG) finds ethereum's developers proceeding with a plan that would enable both its new and old consensus algorithms to work together to protect the network from unexpected attack vectors that may arise during the transition.
Under the proposal, smart contracts will link miners that secure the network with a new set of participants called "validators."
The code provides a way for mining to continue undisturbed by layering a smart contract on top of ethereum that allows users to bet on transaction histories in exchange for rewards. The smart contract also contains a "difficulty bomb," which would (upon being enacted) propel an upgrade by making mining this iteration of the code more prohibitive over time.
According to the current block times, the difficulty bomb is expected to activate in about two years, at which time the new consensus method, proof-of-stake, is expected to launch – and ethereum will relinquish its mining layer entirely.
But while much of that has been in the project's official roadmap, what's new is that the smart contract in question is getting tested by Parity, the second largest ethereum software client. Plus, Geth, the largest ethereum software client by users, is getting closer to launching its implementation of the code on testnet.
"All of the major clients are working on implementation," author of the Casper specification, Danny Ryan, said.
The forward momentum will come as a relief to many in the ethereum community who are upset by the recent release of specialized crypto mining hardware that some believe will disturb the platform's distributed network of users.
And with the work going toward testing the smart contract – less than a year from when the Casper white paper was released – it seems clients are equally as interested in pushing proof-of-stake from concept to code.
Ryan told CoinDesk:
"Proof of stake has been on the roadmap since day zero. Our community is very excited to take the first step with this hybrid model and to follow it up with a full [proof-of-stake] implementation soon after."