Altair pre-release is out
Over the past week, beacon chain Altair pre-release specs -- Stargazer v1.1.0-alpha.1 and Half of 'em just look like dots v1.1.0-alpha.2 -- were released. These represent the first feature complete releases of the upcoming Altair upgrade to the beacon chain, and give engineering teams something concrete to dig into.
Altair is an upgrade to the beacon chain that brings light client support, minor patches to incentives, per-validator inactivity leak accounting, an increase in slashing severity, and cleanups to validator rewards accounting for simplified state management.
In addition to these various features, Altair also represents a "warm-up upgrade" for the beacon chain and beacon chain clients. Ethereum's proof-of-stake system has run quite smoothly since genesis, but before performing the high-stakes merge, client teams want to go through the process of a live upgrade to further test and ready their codebases and the live system.
Client teams are currently integrating changes from the pre-release and providing feedback along the way. After this process, we'll cut a full release and begin the testnet phase.
Open call: Security RfP
Last week, the EF published a beacon chain security+testing RfP. This is an open call for proposals that aim to improve the beacon chain's security, analysis, and testing. Beyond client engineering, there is plenty to be done to continue to vet, refine, and harden the beacon chain system prior to the merge, and we want to bring in more teams with a wide variety of expertise to dig in.
Check out the RfP's potential areas of focus for some ideas, but if you are having trouble narrowing down these various domains into a more refined proposal, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for some guidance. Provide some background on you or your team's skillset and experience, along with some basic direction, and we can work together to refine a proposal.
If you know of a team or individual that might be well suited for this RfP, please forward it along!
Merge progress is heating up 🔥
What is the merge you ask? It's the unification of Ethereum's application-layer (currently supported by proof-of-work) with Ethereum's proof-of-stake consensus-layer, the beacon chain. Although the beacon chain is already live, it currently only comes to consensus on itself, but after the merge, the beacon chain will be the driver of all the dapps, smart contracts, and accounts that you use today.
Over the past few weeks, merge designs have continued to be refined. Check out Mikhail's recent spec PR for the latest synthesis of merge plans and structure. We expect these base designs to be integrated into the specs shortly and for engineering teams to begin work on the next wave of demos and testnets.
In addition to our asynchronous research, design, and engineering, we've begun a fort-nightly call to increase collaboration across the many teams. You can follow along with progress and participate actively in the Eth R&D discord #merge channel 🚀