The Ethereum Foundation has announced that the starting date for the system-wide transition known as the Merge will fall on September 6th. Activation of the Bellatrix upgrade on the 6th will set in motion the rest of the Merge process, with completion anticipated between September 10 and 20.
With the Merge, Ethereum switches from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake to validate transactions on the blockchain. In case you’re not particularly interested in the world of crypto, the technical differences between the two approaches are a little obscure. According to the Ethereum Foundation’s calculations, the new proof-of-stake method will use 99.95 percent less energy than previous methods. Cryptocurrencies have been criticized as colossal wastes of power that offer no additional utility to the world, so this is a significant development.
The Merge is a two-step process as the Foundation has described. The first step is the Bellatrix upgrade, which will go live on September 6 at 11:34:47 AM UTC. Once this goes on live, it starts another counter towards a TTD threshold (terminal total difficulty) of 58750000000000000000000. In essence, TTD is a measure of Ethereum network activity. Upon reaching this threshold, a second upgrade, Paris, will be triggered and the Merge will be complete.
Beacon Chain will take over the process of validating new transactions through Proof-of-Stake once it is complete, and Ethereum’s legacy Proof-of-Work model will be discontinued. Over 13 million ETH have already been staked on the Beacon Chain. With the mainnet (main network of the Ethereum blockchain) merging with Beacon Chain, the full history of transactions, smart contracts, and balances of Ethereum since July 2015 will also be merged.
The Foundation cannot provide an accurate switchover date due to this TTD threshold, since reaching that number is dependent on Ethereum usage after September 6th. The estimated date of reaching it is September 15th.
To date, The Merge has been one of the biggest crypto events. On the one hand, it is an update that will allow new features on the Ethereum blockchain, but on the other hand, it is a test of the community’s cohesion and commitment. It will be a sign of confidence in Ethereum if it survives and thrives after the Merge.