Ethereum 2.0 is an upgrade on the Ethereum blockchain. This upgrade aims to make the existing Ethereum blockchain more scalable, secure, and sustainable. The entire upgrade is scheduled to happen over two years. It is distributed among three phases. The first phase is the launch of the Beacon chain which has already happened. The second phase is scheduled for 2021 when the shard chains will be introduced. In 2022 the upgrade will reach its completion with the merging of the mainnet with the beacon chain. Once this merging or ‘docking’ is done, the entire Ethereum network will be available for staking.
The principal shift that will differentiate Ethereum 2.0 from the existing Ethereum Mainnet is the change in its consensus mechanism. It will shift from the Proof of Work consensus mechanism to the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism. The PoW process is dependent on energy-intensive mining as of now. With ETH 2.0, it will become dependent on validators. Before looking into the details of becoming a validator node, let’s try to understand this shift from PoW to PoS in greater detail.
PoW to PoS: From Miners to Validators
The proof of work consensus mechanism is the oldest and, so far, the most popular blockchain consensus mechanism. Most of the premier cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, use this PoW mechanism.
As per the PoW mechanism, it is the miners who run the nodes. They use computational energy in terms of hardware processing power and electricity to solve complex mathematical puzzles that verify new transactions. After they are verified, the block of transactions is added to the blockchain.
This process requires miners to spend heavily on hardware infrastructure costs, electricity costs, etc. Also, the PoW mechanism is sequential. The process takes up one block only after the miners have validated the previous block. Owing to all these reasons, even though the PoW mechanism is more secure, it suffers from scalability and accessibility issues. Since it verifies one block at a time, the transaction speed can not be faster, and neither can it verify more transactions within a given interval. Also, the amount of investment required to run the mining nodes works as a barrier to entry for many competent individual miners.
The poS mechanism in the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade solves this issue of speed and processing capability by introducing shard chains or sharding. What the application of sharding will do is that it will partition the entire blockchain into compartments. One Ethereum blockchain will become 64 separate chains, called shard chains. These 64 shard chains will operate at the same time running parallel to each other. It implies that within the same given interval the number of verified transactions will increase 64 times. In turn, the confirmation time per transaction will decrease and, eventually, the transactions will be processed much faster than the time it takes now. With the end of energy-intensive mining, the Eth 2.0 upgrade will require validators rather than miners.
The overall scheme to become a validator requires the minimum deposit of 32 ETH into the Ethereum Foundation’s official deposit contract. Once eligible, the validators will download the updated Eth2.0 software and will run it. While running the software, the system will select validators randomly to propose and attest to blocks on the chain. Those who propose and attest blocks correctly would receive ETH as a reward in proportion to their stake.
Yet, the process to become an Eth 2.0 validator node is not so simple and straightforward. One needs to follow certain guidelines to become one. It includes guidelines or recommendations relating to hardware, guidelines on how to choose and install one’s clients, how to set up an Eth1 node, and how to use the Eth2 launchpad.
Recommended Hardware Requirements
The minimum requirements for an Eth 2.0 validator node hardware start with an operating system of 64-bit Linux, or Mac OS X, or Windows. The processor should at least be of Intel Core i5-760 or AMD FX-8110 variety, or better. The minimum memory requirement is that of 4GB RAM and the minimum storage available in the system should be 20GBs of available space in the SSD format. The broadband internet connection should provide a minimum speed of 10 Mbps. To ensure that all these work in synergy and provide optimal performance throughout, one must have an uninterruptible power system or UPS.
Choosing and Installing the Client
The Eth 2.0 upgrade comprises multiple clients. Resultantly, the validators get the opportunity to run different implementations to run their validators. As far as the latest stage of the ongoing shift is concerned, there are four client teams with production-ready implementations for validator nodes to try out. Below, we describe each of these client teams in brief.
- Prysm: Written in the language Go, Prysm by Prysmatic labs is issued under a GPL3.0 license. It focuses on three aspects: usability, reliability, and security.
- Lighthouse: Written in the language Rust, Lighthouse by the software engineering firm Sigma Prime is issued under an Apache 2.0 license. Its focus on the aspects of speed and security
- Teku: Written in Java, Teku by Pegasys is issued under an Apache 2 license. It focuses on the aspect of security and is known for its maturity and ubiquity.
- Nimbus: Written in the language Nim, Nimbus is licensed under Apache 2. Its focus is to perform well on embedded systems as well as personal mobile devices.
Installing an ETH1 Node:
Running a validator on the upgraded Eth 2.0 protocol requires, as we have already seen, running an Eth1 node. It helps to monitor for the 32 ETH validator deposits.
Running the Validator Node on Eth 2.0
With all the above-mentioned resources in place, the actual process of setting up and running a validator node on Eth 2.0 starts with depositing 32 ETH. It works as a testimony to the validator’s long-term commitment to the upgraded network.
Once the 32 ETH tokens have been staked, the validator can access the Eth2 launchpad, interactively designed for validators to run their nodes through commands.
Before proceeding further, the validator must read through the content. Once aware of the risks involved in the process, it is time to generate the key pairs and mnemonic phase. Each validator node needs to create a key pair and a mnemonic phrase. It would lead to the generation of the withdrawal key. The launchpad provides two options to generate the deposit keys once the node has finalized the number of validators it intends to run and on which operating system. These two options are as follows:
- To implement the binary executable file and running the ./deposit command. While going for this option, one needs to be mindful of whether the correct URL is being used.
- The second option to generate deposit keys is to build a deposit-CLI tool using the Python source code. Once the tool is ready, it would ask for specifying the number of validators, the language of the mnemonic phrase, and the mainnet.
It is mandatory to opt for the chain main net so that the deposits remain valid. Now that all these requirements have been met, the system will generate the password. Upon confirmation of the password, the mnemonic phrase will be generated. Store this phrase offline in a safe place.
Now that the deposit key and mnemonic phrases are ready, you need to upload the deposit file with .json extension. The next step is to connect your wallet and click on continue. In the wallet settings, the mainnet should be selected.
Once the wallet is set up, the system will lead you to a summary page. The summary page will have the details on the total amount of ETH that the node needs to send to the deposit contract. The amount of ETH will depend on the number of validators chosen to run. Now, give your approval to the alert checks and then click on the ‘Initiate the Transaction’ option to deposit the ETH in the contract officially. Once the system confirms the transaction, you have officially become an Eth2.0 validator node.
As we know that referring to the node of ETH 1.0 is an important part of becoming an ETH 2.0 validator.
To have the most recent blockchain updates visit NOWNodes frequently!
CRYPTO CONTRIBUTOR, CONTENT CREATOR, INVESTOR & FOUNDER OF MT AGENCY.
I have written guides and educational content on thousands of cryptocurrencies and financial services and conducted various types of analysis, including price forecasts and technical analyses of blockchain projects.