The introduction to the Beacon Chain with a fancy hook in the intro section of a blog is important. Sure, but sometimes there’s no perfect analogy to certain things. Well, Beacon Chain is one of them.
At max, the Beacon Chain could be synonymous with the beacon of hope one receives when things start looking up after hitting the hard ground.
So let’s dive in and learn what this chain is all about!
The Beacon Chain
The Beacon Chain is an Ethereum blockchain released by Ethereum on 1st December 2020. It symbolizes the beacon of hope for the vision Ethereum has.
Ethereum, released in 2015, the blockchain implemented a Proof-of-Work protocol. A protocol where users, as Miners, work with blocks. They mine for the decryption key and verify published blocks on the public forum.
Thus, the Beacon Chain brings hope toward a new Ethereum. A better Ethereum.
- Where the consensus follows the Proof of Stake ( POS) protocol.
- That is more secure and sustainable.
- That solves the scalable problem.
In mid-September 2022, the new chain merged with the Ethereum Mainnet chain. This event is famously known as The Merge. The Ethereum mainnet chain was running on proof-of-work protocol before the Merge.
In addition, it enabled Ethereum to get used to the protocol. Ethereum now got Validators instead of Miners. Staking got introduced to incentivize Validators rather than randomly rewarding the miners.
Features of Beacon Chain
The main features of the Beacon chain are:
- Introduction of the POS protocol.
- Introduces Staking, Validation, and the role of Validators.
- Gets Ethereum ready for other upgrades.
Working on a Beacon Chain.
The Beacon Chain does not work by block number but by epochs. An Epoch is a set of 32 slots that have 12 seconds.
A user stakes 32 ETH to Smart Contract in the Ethereum Mainnet chain. The staking of ETH upon verification qualifies the user to be a Validator on the Beacon Chain.
The staked ETH then produces a Merkle Hash as the staked ETH gets locked away. The Merkle Hash is proof of ownership towards the staked ETH. It also functions as a record on the blockchain.
Now, once a user has access to the functions of a validator, they choose their role either as an Attestor or a Proposer. A Proposer is responsible for proposing and creating new blocks.
However, there is a twist to rewarding a Proposer. Proposers need to make a block within 12 seconds. If and when they miss the proposal window, they do not receive rewards.
Meanwhile, an Attestor vets the validity of the block through voting. A cohort of attestors is selected randomly to verify a block of transactions.
And at any point in time, attestors cannot vote for a block containing invalid transactions that a proposer suggests or proposes.
If and when an attestor is caught with malpractices, inactivity, or is offline for a long time Slashing occurs.
🚨Note: Slashing is when the validator (proposer or attestor) gets penalized. The minimum penalty is 1% of the stake. In the worst-case scenario, the entire stake is lost.
The Need for Beacon Chain
The Proof of Work consensus is time-consuming and draws more power to create, mine, and store the block information. It is neither too secure nor too efficient to work on a protocol that can be easily hacked or doesn’t offer complete decentralization.
The introduction of the beacon chain is a prime event for Ethereum as it introduces the proof-of-stake protocol to the Ethereum habitat.
Why Proof-of-Stake? Because it makes the process of transactions faster and more secure consensus. The staking protocol also ensures flexibility and fewer manipulations.
The Importance of Beacon Chain
The Beacon Chain introduced the PoS protocol into the Ethereum habitat and secured the network for attacks that were prone in the PoW consensus.
This further improved sustainability because the PoS consensus requires less energy to validate blocks compared to the PoW protocol.
In short, the chain ensured that the Ether ecosystem became more sustainable and secure. It also prepared the blockchain network for more upgrades and changes.
The Beacon Chain that ran on the Proof-of-Stake consensus for 654 days merged with the Mainnet Chain in September in two parts. A Bellatrix Upgrade initiated the procedure, and the Paris Upgrade finalized the fusing of the two chains globally.
The Beacon Chain is phase 0 of Ethereum 2,0, released to make a better Ethereum.
Ethereum 2.0 envisions a sustainable, secure, and scalable future. This step meant a lot of changes for Ethereum, its ecosystem, its working, and consensus rules.
The chain introduces the Proof-of-Stake on the consensus layer. Introducing the PoS consensus made the blockchain more secure and sustainable by cutting down power consumption by 98%
Further, the Beacon Chain runs by validators who stake their Ether tokens. Once they’ve staked 32 tokens, the smart contract records the function and provides the validator software.
Moreover, a Validator can either propose new blocks in the blockchain as a proposer or attest the blocks by verifying the information as an attestor.
Lastly, the Beacon chain is a crucial step in upgrading Ethereum. The two (other) major changes to the Ethereum network are The Merge and Sharding.
DYK: Did you know you cannot be inactive as a Validator for more than 10 minutes?
Well, stay tuned to know more about blockchain, and feel free to check out our other blogs.