Ethereum 2.0 imminent with the Beacon Chain’s Altair upgrade

Ethereum 2.0 imminent with the Beacon Chain’s Altair upgrade

The Ethereum network is poised to make another move towards Ethereum 2.0 on Oct. 27 at epoch 74240 with the Altair upgrade to Beacon Chain.

According to an Ethereum Foundation blog post, the Altair update is the first scheduled upgrade to the Beacon Chain. It introduces several features like support for light clients, pre-validator inactivity leak accounting, a rise in slashing severity, and clean-ups to validator rewards.

Interestingly, the Foundation has described Altair as a “warm-up upgrade” for the Beacon Chain and its associated clients. It will essentially bring several main features to the Ethereum 2.0 network.

The first feature will be the introduction of sync committees for light client functions, allowing light clients to easily sync up the header chain with low computational and data costs. While the second feature is an incentive accounting reform that offers three main changes.

Thirdly, the update brings about adjustments in penalty parameters that make inactivity leaks and slashing more accountable than in the pre-Altair era. There will also be three major changes to these parameters. The inactivity penalty quotient will be cut down by 25%, which will consequently reduce the time it normally takes for balances to leak by nearly 13.4%. The minimum slashing quotient will also be cut down from 128 to 64, putting the minimum slashing penalty at 0.5 ETH, twice the previous penalty of 0.25 ETH.

The proportional slashing multiplier will be reduced as well from one to two, implying that the slashing penalty will now double the percentage of other validators that were slashed within 18 days of that validator.

Such adjustments can be sensitive to the incentive structure security-wise, as higher degrees of contribution are rewarded and adjusted across the spectrum accordingly. However, this change will not directly affect users and decentralized applications (DApps) currently on the network, as it is an upgrade that impacts only the Beacon Chain. Nevertheless, it is bound to affect Ethereum users once the transition to Eth 2.0 finally takes place.

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