The Ethereum 2.0 Altair Beacon Chain Update has started successfully, 98.7% of the nodes have already been updated.
On Wednesday, Eth2 developer Preston Vanloon tweeted that the Altair upgrade had been “successfully activated”.
Altair is the first upgrade to the Beacon Chain since it went online in December 2020, and likely the last before it merged with the Ethereum mainnet and switched to Proof-of-Stake (PoS).
The upgrade brings light client support into the core consensus, cleans up the Beacon State Incentive Accounting, fixes some problems with validator incentives and increases the penalty parameters (penalties for offline validators) according to Ethereum Improvement Proposal 2982.
Paul Hauner is the lead developer and reviewer of the Altair code in Lighthouse, an Ethereum 2.0 implementation. Hauner told Cointelegraph:
“Altair introduced two major changes. First, support has been added for light clients, which are low-resource nodes that follow the chain with fewer features and slightly weaker security assumptions. Think of a light knot on your phone or in your browser. Second, the penalties for offline situations and cuts have been increased. These penalties were made low by nature, so we did not penalize users who were just learning. The merger will increase these penalties even further. Aside from these two primary changes, there was a handful of efficiency and order. “
The Altair upgrade was a hard fork, meaning that each of the 250,000 or so validators who did not upgrade are now offline and their Ether (ETH) share will slowly decrease at a rate of about 10% per year.
All nodes required for the upgrade were a hard fork (a total of 250,000 validators that ran on an unknown number of nodes). Nobody is going to lose their 32 ETH, but those who are offline now are slowly losing their balance. If they don’t fix it, they cross a threshold and are ejected.
– Jeff Coleman | Jeff.eth (@technocrypto) October 28, 2021
To be compatible with the Altair upgrade, beacon node operators had to upgrade their client version, which only took about 10 minutes.
While participation fell to just 93.3% in the first epoch after the upgrade, it quickly rose to around 95% and has since risen to around 98.7%.
“It looks like we have virtually all of the validators online and are now running Altair. It’s hard to say with these data protection systems, but I would say that we don’t have more than 1% to 2% offline yet, “said Hauner.
According to beacon chain data, this is around 247,400 active validators and 3,000 inactive validators.
Ethereum 2.0 developer Jeff Coleman tweeted, “If they don’t fix it, they’ll cross a threshold and be ejected.”
“I believe there would be a full ejection once they drop below 16 ETH, which would take quite a long time since the network is still ready,” said Coleman.
“The protocol sees no difference between a validator that has not been updated and one that is temporarily offline due to a power or network problem. Those that haven’t updated just need to update their nodes and then restart. They will start validation again as soon as their knot catches up with the Altair chain, ”explained Hauner.
The Ethereum developers will breathe a sigh of relief, because the successful upgrade means that the merger will be pushed ahead with full force and the planned goal of being “Proof-of-Work off forever” by February 2022.
Developer Ben Edgington described the importance of the upgrade in a blog post earlier this month:
“This is our only practice run to upgrade the beacon chain before the merge. If things go bad (maybe because a lot of stakers didn’t update their clients in a timely manner), it will certainly postpone the merger date. “
“The Altair upgrade will provide us with valuable experience to ensure The Merge runs smoothly when it is operational in 2022,” said Edgington.
“The proof-of-stake upgrade, known as The Merge, will be the largest upgrade in Ethereum history.”
Related: Ethereum 2.0 inches closer with Altair’s Beacon Chain upgrade
The Beacon Chain is the first stage of the new PoS blockchain from Ethereum, which will merge with the current mainnet as part of the implementation of Ethereum 2.0.
PoS is 99% more energy efficient than proof-of-work, the method Bitcoin (BTC) miners use, and is based on stakers and validators rather than miners.
The final upgrade from Ethereum 2.0 is planned for early to mid-2022.