Ethereum’s Merge Delayed Despite Successful ‘Shadow Fork’ Test


Ethereum developers report that the final tests before the protocol’s transition to proof-of-stake are going well. 

A major test called “the shadow fork” was “a huge success,” Ethereum developer Marius van der Wijden tweeted on Apr. 11.

The test aimed to ensure that “The Merge”, which will meld the proof-of-stake Beacon Chain with the Ethereum mainnet, replacing energy-intensive miners with ETH stakers, goes ahead without a hitch. The Merge is scheduled for sometime after July.

After the Merge, the Ether that has been locked in the Beacon chain since late 2020 will be unlocked. There is no set timeframe for the unlock, but it’s generally anticipated to be a matter of months after the Merge. 

The most recent test processed mainnet transactions on a “shadow fork” – a subset of proof-of-work nodes that had been merged with the Beacon Chain to process proof-of-stake transactions.

This subset of nodes has the same “state” as mainnet, meaning that the nodes are operating with the same long blockchain “history,” or database status, as the mainnet.

The tests mimicked the real Merge with the nodes processing real Ethereum transactions from the blockchain’s mainnet. This differs from Ethereum testnets, which process transactions with pretend ETH in a sandbox environment.

Tim Beiko, who organizes Ethereum developers, said that shadow forks are important when testing changes to the blockchain’s protocol. “[They show] us how nodes react in the harshest possible conditions: when their state and history is large and transactions are the most complex,” he wrote on Github

The price of ETH hasn’t budged much since the shadow fork. The coin is up 2.3% in the past day, according to data from CoinGecko. In the same period, the overall crypto market cap jumped 2.6%.

Still, the tests generated excitement. 

“Ethereum merge and transition to proof of stake is gmi,” tweeted Ethereum influencer DCinvestor. (GMI = “gonna make it”). 

Past Delays

Ethereum has suffered from delays in the past. An AMA with the Ethereum 2.0 research team, had users frustrated that the Beacon chain’s launch kept getting pushed back. “Delays and more delays…it never ends,” commented one user.

Screenshot from the Ethereum 2.0 Research Team’s AMA

It looks like there will be a delay with the Merge as well— Beiko tweeted on April 11 that the Merge won’t happen in June as previously forecast. He followed up with another tweet on April 12 indicating that the Merge would take a few months.

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