Blockdaemon is excited to announce support for Ethereum’s open-source client software in preparation for the ’the merge’.
As part of our commitment, we’re providing $900,000 worth of IBM Cloud credits to fund Ethereum client stability testing. This will directly aid the Ethereum Foundation’s efforts, as they continue to strengthen robust client software in the run-up to Ethereum’s full transition to proof-of-stake.
In this post, we’ll outline Blockdaemon’s commitment to Ethereum’s open-source initiatives, and the benefits this funding will bring.
Ethereum’s Post Merge Architecture
To understand the importance of open-source clients, we must first explore Ethereum’s new architecture.
Today, Ethereum’s Execution Chain (proof-of-work) and Beacon Chain (proof-of-stake) are the world’s leading smart contract and staking networks.
Around summer 2022, ‘the merge’ will fuse both of these chains into a single, fully unified Ethereum network with two layers:
- The Consensus Layer
- The Execution Layer
The merge moves consensus activities from the Execution Layer clients to Consensus Layer clients. This change switches the network from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, cutting >99.9% of the energy consumption.
By maintaining existing battle-tested Execution Layer clients, no dapps, smart contracts, infrastructure, or tooling needs to be re-written.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the clients for both of these layers.
The Importance of Open Source Ethereum Clients
A client is software that runs the blockchain, checking transactions and the creation of new blocks. Nodes are the servers in a network that run this client software.
Today, the community runs many open-source Ethereum clients for both the Execution Layer and the Consensus Layer. These span multiple programming languages and provide subtly different features, influencing how they are used and who uses them. For example, some are enterprise-focused, while others are more concerned with low resource use.
Client diversity is a blessing for Ethereum’s ecosystem. It removes the risk of a single point of failure, by not solely relying on one client as many other blockchains do.
As Ethereum is moving to a two-layer architecture, two new pieces of client software are now needed to run the network successfully.
Both clients perform different, yet equally important, functions.
- The Consensus Client (e.g. Prysm, Lighthouse, Teku, Nimbus) will be responsible for:
- Block gossip
- Execution payload
- Fork choice
- The Execution Client (e.g. Geth, Nethermind, Besu, Erigon) will be responsible for:
- EVM execution
- Tx pool
With billions of dollars worth of value on the line, tested and robust clients on both layers are essential to Ethereum’s success. After ‘the merge’, both types need to work seamlessly in various combinations.
Why We Support Ethereum’s Open Source Client Testing
Blockdaemon runs thousands of Ethereum nodes.
We rely on open source client software to successfully run these nodes. However, we are not alone in this domain. Other infrastructure providers also rely on a robust and diverse client software ecosystem. By contributing to open source clients, everyone running an Ethereum node is better able to serve the network.
The Ethereum Foundation is working to develop post-merge Ethereum client software. This is a collaborative effort, in combination with the various organizations who maintain these clients. The Ethereum Client Incentive Program should ensure continuous client diversity for many years to come.
The Foundation has also launched several highly-successful test networks, the proving grounds for new client software. These test networks are invaluable ways of gathering client software feedback. In turn, this feedback fuels improvements to client software and specifications. Such improvements are the essential building blocks of the final path towards launch.
To date, there have been six devnets. The main purpose of these devnets has been to test the merge transition in a semi-public manner. The result is that software becomes more stable over time.
The Kintsugi public merge testnet was launched in December 2021. This allowed the community to experiment with post-merge Ethereum in a safe environment.
On March 15, 2022 the Ethereum Foundation successfully launched the Kiln public merge testnet.
Kiln tested the merge itself. It started with a separate proof-of-work and proof-of-stake chain, and had them transition to pure proof-of-stake. In this environment, both Execution and Consensus clients work in parallel.
Following the valuable contributions from testers on Kiln, the Ethereum Foundation will help coordinate the update to existing public testnets.
All of these developments are essential to the delivery of open source client software.
Blockdaemon: Championing Open Source
In our Series C blog post, we highlighted our commitment to open source contributions.
One such project is being led by Obol Labs. Obol is a trust minimized staking protocol for public blockchain networks, such as Ethereum, based on Distributed Validator Technology (DVT).
We’re also a founding member of the Flashbots Eth2 Working Group. Collaboration with Flashbots is important for Blockdaemon, together we are working towards a democratized, rather than proprietary, MEV (Maximum Extractable Value) extraction Ethereum solution.
As the world’s largest blockchain infrastructure provider, we rely on open source to deliver the exceptional service our clients expect. We are proud to play our part, and foster the thriving open-source culture on Ethereum.
With this $900k in IBM Cloud credits, we hope to further drive the success of open-source client software in particular, as we stride, together, towards Ethereum’s future as the prime proof-of-stake blockchain.