HomeEtherumAnnouncement: Ropsten Merge Update from Ethereum Foundation Blog

Announcement: Ropsten Merge Update from Ethereum Foundation Blog

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Ropsten will be the first longstanding testnet to run through The Merge.

A new Ropsten Beacon Chain was launched on May 30, 2022 to provide consensus to the network.

The Ropsten Beacon Chain will upgrade to merge-compatible protocol rules (Bellatrix) at slot 24000, expected on June 2, 2022.

After this, a Terminal Total Difficulty (TTD) will be chosen to activate The Merge on the proof-of-work chain. Node Operators will need to manually set this value on their clients.

June 3 update: the exact Terminal Total Difficulty for the Ropsten Merge is 50000000000000000. A subsequent announcement explains how node operators and stakers can ensure their clients are ready for the upgrade. Please update your client’s TTD before June 7, 2022.

Background

After years of work to bring proof-of-stake to Ethereum, we are now entering the final testing stage: testnet deployments! Having tested client implementations on Kintsugi 🍵, Kiln 🔥🧱 and many shadow forks, client teams are now ready to run Ropsten — the oldest proof-of-work testnet — through The Merge. In preparation, a Ropsten Beacon Chain has been launched to provide consensus to the network. After the Ropsten transition, two more testnets (Goerli and Sepolia) will be transitioned to proof-of-stake before focus shifts to mainnet. Other testnets, such as Rinkeby and Kovan, may be maintained and upgraded separately by the community but will no longer be monitored by client developers.

The Merge is different from previous Ethereum upgrades in two ways. First, node operators need to update both their consensus and execution layer clients in tandem, rather than just one of the two. Second, the upgrade activates in two phases: the first at a slot height on the Beacon Chain and the second upon hitting a Total Difficulty value on the execution layer. Given these circumstances, the Ropsten network, which is intended to be deprecated after The Merge, will run through the upgrade earlier in the development process than previous network upgrades. This will give the community more time to become familiar with the upgrade process.

Note: Client releases listed below will not be suitable for the Ethereum mainnet’s transition to proof-of-stake.

Upgrade Information

Timing

The Merge is a two-step process. It starts with a network upgrade on the consensus layer, triggered by a slot height. This is followed by the execution layer’s transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, triggered by a specific Total Difficulty threshold, called the Terminal Total Difficulty (TTD).

On June 2, 2022, at slot 24000, the Bellatrix upgrade will prepare the Ropsten Beacon Chain for The Merge. At that point, CL clients will begin listening for a TTD value to be hit on the proof-of-work chain. Because the hash rate of proof-of-work testnets is very volatile, the TTD value will first be set to an exceedingly high value, 100000000000000000000000. At Ropsten’s current hash rate, it would take ~250 years to reach it. Once the Bellatrix upgrade has happened on the Beacon Chain, a new TTD value, which is expected to be reached a few days later, will be chosen and announced. Users will then need to configure their node with this new value. Instructions for doing so with each client are available here.

When this new TTD is hit or exceeded on Ropsten, the execution layer part of the transition, codenamed Paris, will start. Again, note that hash rate on Ropsten is notoriously variable, so the actual time at which the Terminal Total Difficulty takes place may fluctuate. Once the execution layer has exceeded the TTD, the next block will be solely produced by a Beacon Chain validator. We consider The Merge to have been completed once the Beacon Chain has finalized this block. Assuming normal network conditions, this should happen 2 epochs, or approximately 13 minutes, after the first post-TTD block is hit! A new JSON-RPC block tag, finalized, returns the latest finalized block or an error if no such post-merge block exists. This tag can be used for applications to check if The Merge has been completed. Similarly, smart contracts can query the DIFFICULTY opcode (0x44), renamed to PREVRANDAO post-merge, to determine if The Merge has happened. We recommend infrastructure providers monitor overall network stability in addition to finalization status.

Client Releases

The following client releases support The Merge on the Ropsten testnet. Node operators must run both an execution and consensus layer client to remain on the network during and after The Merge. As mentioned above, the following releases have a hardcoded Terminal Total Difficulty value of 100000000000000000000000 which will need to be manually updated after the Bellatrix upgrade has been activated on the Beacon Chain.

When choosing which client to run, validators should be especially mindful of the risks of running a majority client on both the EL and CL. An explainer of these risks and their consequences can be found here. An estimate of current EL and CL client distribution and guides for switching from one client to another can be found here.

Note: if you had previously downloaded a client release with a Ropsten TTD of 43531756765713534, you must either update your release or manually override the TTD to 100000000000000000000000 as specified here.

Consensus Layer

Name Version Link
Lighthouse Baby Wizard (2.3.0) Download
Lodestar See “Lodestar Note” below See “Lodestar Note” below
Prysm v2.1.3-rc.2 Download
Nimbus v22.5.2 Download
Teku v22.5.2 Download

Lodestar Note: the latest Lodestar release, v0.37.0, has an outdated Ropsten TTD value of 43531756765713534. To be compatible with the Ropsten Merge, which now uses a TTD of 100000000000000000000000, Lodestar users will need to manually override this value. Instructions about doing so can be found on the team’s release announcement post.

Execution Layer

Name Version Link
Besu v22.4.2 Download
Erigon v2022.06.01-alpha Download
go-ethereum (geth) See “Geth Note” below See “Geth Note” below
Nethermind v1.13.1 Download

Geth Note: the latest go-ethereum (geth) release, Sharblu (v1.10.18), has an outdated Ropsten TTD value of 43531756765713534. To be compatible with the Ropsten Merge, which now uses a TTD of 100000000000000000000000, geth users must either:

  • Build from source on the latest master branch
  • Use the latest Docker image
  • Manually override the TTD, by running the following command when starting the client: –override.terminaltotaldifficulty 100000000000000000000000

Upgrade Specifications

Consensus-critical changes for The Merge are specified in two places:

– The consensus layer changes, under the bellatrix directory of the consensus-specs repository

– The execution layer changes, under the Paris spec in the execution-specs repository

In addition to these, two other specifications cover how the consensus and execution layer clients interact:

– The Engine API, specified in the execution-apis repository, is used for communication between the consensus and execution layers

– Optimistic Sync, specified in the sync folder of the consensus-specs repository, is used by the consensus layer to import blocks as the execution layer client is syncing and to provide a partial view of the head of the chain from the former to the latter

FAQ

As a node operator, what should I do?

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