Though Ethereum’s long-awaited Merge upgrade is on the horizon, it’s far from the last developmental milestone on the smart contract platform’s roadmap. Crypto analyst Miles Deutscher recently published a Twitter thread explaining the five key phases the network must move through before reaching completion.
The Merge and the Surge
The five developmental phases – as named by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin – are “The Merge,” “The Surge,” “The Verge,” “The Purge,” and, “The Splurge.”
The Merge will involve the “merging” of Ethereum’s current blockchain (the execution layer) with the Beacon Chain (the consensus layer). In other words, it will transition Ethereum’s consensus mechanism from proof of work to proof of stake.
The move is expected to cut Ethereum’s power usage by 99% while reducing the asset’s net issuance. In fact, many expect ETH issuance to become net negative, hence earning it the nickname of “ultrasound money.”
The asset jumped this month after an ecosystem developer revealed that the Merge upgrade could go live by September 19th. Vitalik has stated that testing for the Merge is now 90% complete and that Ethereum will be about 55% complete following its implementation.
Next comes “The Surge” – the phase that will bring sharding to the Ethereum blockchain. Sharding is a scaling solution that breaks Ethereum into separate partitions or “shards” to spread out the network’s computational load. This upgrade is planned for 2023, and will roughly bring Ethereum to 80% completion based on Vitalik’s expectations in January.
The Verge, Purge, and Splurge
After that is “The Verge”, referring to the introduction of “verkle trees.” This upgrade involves a “powerful upgrade to Merkle proofs” which optimizes data storage for Ethereum nodes. It will also assist with Ethereum scaling, as it allows for a greater number of blockchain transactions while keeping the blockchain decentralized.
“The Purge” is a similar upgrade concerning data storage for validators (aka future ETH stakers). It will reduce the hard drive space required for validators including “historical data” and “bad debt,” streamlining storage and reducing network congestion.
The final upgrade will be “The Splurge”– a series of “miscellaneous” upgrades made simply to ensure the network runs smoothly after the prior four stages are dealt with.
In an interview with Peter McCormack in August of 2020, Vitalik commented on the different attitudes towards blockchain upgrades between Bitcoiners and Ethereans:
“The difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum is that Bitcoiners consider Bitcoin to be 80% complete, but Ethereans consider Ethereum to be 40% complete,” he said.
In a Twitter thread in May, Vitalik suggested that he partially envies the “long-term stability” emphasized by Bitcoin. However, he recognizes that a lot of “active short-term change” will be required before Ethereum can reach that point.