Ethereum’s test network will undergo the ‘merge’ next month ahead of the actual upgrade on the main network


Ropsten, one of Ethereum’s key test networks, will undergo the “merge” next month, its blockchain developers say.

The merge is a highly anticipated upgrade to Ethereum. If all goes smoothly, the merge will shift the major blockchain from a proof-of-work mechanism to proof-of-stake.

Testing Ropsten is a “huge milestone” toward the actual Ethereum merge estimated to happen later this year, according to the developers.

Currently, Ethereum relies on a proof-of-work model, where miners race to complete complex puzzles to validate transactions. This requires a lot of computer power and energy. In shifting to proof-of-stake, where transactions are validated by those who contribute, or “stake,” to the network, Ethereum is supposed to become more eco-friendly and efficient.

This is a very big change. A lot of money is at stake, as Ethereum is arguably the most used blockchain and its ecosystem is relied on heavily.

In preparation, Ethereum developers have issued many tests—but here’s why the upcoming merge on the Ropsten testnet is more important.

Testing the merge

The Ropsten test network merge is expected to happen on June 8, and it’s considered to be a “big milestone in merge testing” for a few reasons.

For one, it means developers are continuing to move the process forward, ultimately leading to the real Ethereum merge, developer Tim Beiko tells Fortune.

Next, a lot of Ethereum applications and services use Ropsten already, “so having the upgrade there forces them to run through the process,” Beiko says. The Ethereum community also runs the “vast majority” of nodes, or computers that run software to verify transactions on the network, on Ropsten. “This means we get more people upgrading,” he adds.

It’s important to have as many people test the network as possible before the actual merge.

Additionally, Ropsten is seen as the test network most like the main Ethereum network, which will be helpful for assessing what might come up during the real merge.

“Activating the merge on Ropsten will provide valuable feedback for devs to see how their clients behave through the upgrade in a less controlled and public test network environment,” Christine Kim, research associate at investment firm Galaxy Digital, tweeted on Friday.

After Ropsten, there’s only two more test networks left to be upgraded before Ethereum’s main network.

While some speculate about when the real merge will happen, the timeline hasn’t been confirmed yet. Ethereum developers hope to have a “finalized release candidate for the merge ready soon,” Kim tweeted.

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