Ethereum’s core development team announced that the Shanghai and Capella forks would be launched on the Zheijang testnet on Feb. 7, 2023.
According to lead developer Time Beiko, the new forks, collectively called Shapella, will launch on Tuesday at epoch 1350, with Sepolia and Goerli testnets soon to follow.
Lead Ethereum Developer Expects Sepolia Testnet to Launch Next Week
The Shanghai fork will upgrade the Ethereum execution layer, while the Capella fork will upgrade the network’s Beacon Chain consensus layer.
After the meeting, Beiko encouraged validators testing Shapella to acquire 33 ETH from Zheijang’s faucet before the fork goes live. Developers launched the Zheijang public testnet on Feb 1, 2023, with three faucets, an explorer for the Beacon chain consensus layer, and a transaction explorer.
Testnets allow developers to discover transaction problems without risking real funds before a blockchain’s mainnet upgrade.
Developers also agreed that the Sepolia testnet should launch before the Goerli testnet. This would give the Ethereum community enough time to develop tooling and documentation for the Shanghai mainnet upgrade in March. Beiko is optimistic that they could launch the Sepolia testnet next week.
Last year’s Merge on Sep. 15, 2022, changed Ethereum’s consensus layer from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, assigning the network’s security to validators rather than miners. This upgrade reduced Ethereum’s energy consumption by over 99%.
Validators send 32 ETH to a staking contract on the new consensus layer to become a validator on the network. They are incentivized to keep their staked tokens in the staking contract through offers of annual yield. The Shanghai upgrade will enable withdrawals of staked ETH and several other features.
Developers Want to Unlock 16 Million ETH ASAP Despite Concerns
While most developers agree that the upgrade is on track, a developer minority recently expressed concern that the majority were bowing to public pressure at the expense of Ethereum’s future.
Specifically, most developers downvoted a recent technical proposal to make withdrawals compatible with an encoding method called simple serialize (SSZ). Instead, developers chose to abide by an encoding method called recursive-length prefix serialization (RLP), despite the possibility of its imminent deprecation.
“It feels like we’re not thinking about the long-term health of Ethereum,” said one of the developers, Micah Zoltu, at the all-core devs meeting on Jan. 19, 2023. “We’re thinking, ‘How do we do what the public wants, today?’”
However, developers are acutely aware of investors’ frustration with technical delays that repeatedly pushed back the shipping date for The Merge. Rightly so, since any technical glitches after the Merge could have jeopardized billions locked in decentralized finance protocols on Ethereum.
However, developers see lower risk and less blowback in shipping a relatively bug-free product with a deprecated encoding scheme than shipping a delayed product with over 16 million ETH already staked. Additionally, the changing the transaction encoding would require wholesale changes to the Ethereum codebase better suited to future upgrades.
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