The Ethereum Casper Protocol
If you don’t know the basics of Ethereum already, you can take a look at the introduction we wrote about the world’s second largest crypto project. In short, Ethereum is a decentralised platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship, or third-party interference.
It is a programmable blockchain protocol and it uses its own token, Ether, to fuel the transactions being carried out on the blockchain.
Ethereum has gone through many different upgrades and we spoke about some of these in our last article about cryptocurrency forks. Now, the Ethereum Blockchain is set to upgrade its consensus mechanism to Proof of Stake. Currently, Ethereum’s protocol is more similars to Bitcoin and uses Proof of Work.
There has been much talk about consensus mechanisms and which method is best. We talked about the differences of PoW vs PoS already. Much concern has also been highlighted from key Ethereum developers about the safety and scalability of the network. Vlad Zamfir, a pioneer Ethereum developer has even stated that
Ethereum isn’t safe or scalable. It is immature experimental tech. Don’t rely on it for mission critical apps unless absolutely necessary!
With the nature of Ethereum and all of this new technology, we are still in the early stages of seeing what works and what does not. This means Ethereum and other protocols are testing new ideas and implementing upgrades to enhance and improve their platforms.
So what is the Casper update?
The Ethereum Casper Protocol upgrade has been proposed in two stages.
- The Casper the Friendly Finality Gadget (FFG).
- Correcting by Construction.
Firstly, the FFG part of the Casper upgrade will see the Ethereum move to a hybridised PoW/PoS consensus mechanism. PoW will continue being used and PoS will be used to validate every 50th or 100th block. This is being done in order to ease the transition from PoW to PoS. This Friendly Finality Gadget upgrade was proposed by Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder.
Second is the proposed Correcting by Construction. This part of the upgrade was proposed by Vlad Zamfir and it aims to help nodes on the Ethereum network in making a correct decision or comes to agreement on the version of blockchain that is most appropriate. Without going into the complexity of it, this is a way to get computers on a network to come to an agreement, even if some of the computers happen to crash, lie or act in a strange way.
The Casper update is one of the largest upgrades to Ethereum’s protocol to date. As we move forward in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space we will see many protocols testing new and improving ways of operating.
The Ethereum Casper protocol is being implemented to usher in a whole host of benefits. As we have stated before, PoW is an extremely energy intensive means of consensus. Transitioning to a hybridized PoW/PoS will help to lower the energy needed to verify blocks on Ethereum’s network. Casper also seeks to speed up consensus on the network and reduce centralisation and reliance on miners. Finally, as we saw with the likes of CryptoKitties, the Ethereum network has been prone to congestion at times, especially when throughput increases and activity is very high. Casper is going to open up the way to allow the Ethereum network to scale, even when activity rises.