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    • DellwoodBarker
      Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
      1 month ago

      For reference, Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus on Ethereum currently consumes the energy equivalent of a medium-sized country, but this is actually necessary to keep a PoW chain safe. As the name suggests, PoW reaches consensus based off of which fork has the most “work” done on it. There are two ways to increase the rate of “work” being done, increase the efficiency of mining hardware and using more hardware at the same time. To prevent a chain from being successfully attacked, miners must be doing “work” at a rate greater than an attacker could. As an attacker is likely to have similar hardware, miners must keep large amounts of efficient hardware running to prevent an attacker from out-mining them and all this hardware uses a lot of power.

      Under PoW, as the price of ETH and the hashrate are positively correlated. Therefore, as as the price increases, in equilibrium so too does the power consumed by the network. Under Proof-of-Stake, when the price of ETH increases, the security of the network does too (the value of the ETH at-stake is worth more), but the energy requirements remain unchanged.

      Looking Forward

      While Ethereum continues to use PoW for now, that won’t be the case for much longer. In the past few weeks, we have seen the emergence of the first testnets for The Merge, the name given to the moment Ethereum switches to from PoW to PoS. Several teams of engineers are working overtime to ensure that The Merge arrives as soon as possible, and without compromising on safety.

      Scaling solutions (such as rollups and sharding) will help further decrease the energy consumed per-transaction by leveraging economies of scale.

      Ethereum’s power-hungry days are numbered, and I hope that’s true for the rest of the industry too.