The final preview of Ethereum’s upcoming Shanghai upgrade, more precisely “Shapella,” took place on the Goerli tesnet on Tuesday. The test simulates the withdrawal of staked ETH, bringing the highly anticipated upgrade closer to the final step: direct activation on the blockchain mainnet sometime next month.
The upgrade was activated at epoch 162304 at 10:26 UTC (March 17:26 local time), however, due to a low commit rate, this epoch is still incomplete at the time of writing. Under normal participation conditions, the epoch will end at 10:38 UTC (17:38 UT).
At the time the epoch was activated, the validator participation rate was 29%, which is particularly low for Ethereum. During a YouTube livestream, Ben Edgington, product lead for ethereum client Teku, admitted that the low participation rate may be due to validators not upgrading to the Goerli fork in time.
The Shanghai upgrade will finally allow validators to withdraw their staked ETH and any rewards earned by adding or approving blocks to the blockchain, completing Ethereum’s full transition to a PoS network. The funds have been locked since December 2020, when Ethereum’s PoS beacon chain went live.
The testnet serves as a testbed that simulates the main blockchain, allowing developers to patch any bugs before deploying any upgrades on the mainnet.
Goerli is the last of three testnets to run such simulations. The test is the most anticipated of all three, as it has the largest set of validators and closely mimics how the Ethereum blockchain works. This is also the last chance for staking providers to check that withdrawals of staking ETH are being handled properly before the upgrade works.
Ethereum developers meet every two weeks on Thursdays to set a date for the Shanghai mainnet upgrade. During a recent biweekly conference call, ethereum developers discussed an early April mainnet target date.
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According to Coindesk