The final dress rehearsal for Ethereum’s upcoming Shanghai upgrade, more accurately known as “Shapella,” occurred Tuesday on the Goerli test network (testnet). The test simulated staked ether (ETH) withdrawals, bringing the highly anticipated upgrade closer to its final step: activating live on the mainnet blockchain sometime next month.
The upgrade was triggered at epoch 162304 at 10:26 UTC, however the epoch has not yet finalized at the time of writing, due to low validator participation rates. Under normal participation conditions, the epoch would have finalized at 10:38 UTC (6:38 p.m. ET).
There was a 29% validator participation rate at the time that the epoch triggered, which is particularly low for Ethereum. On a YouTube livestream, Ben Edgington, a product lead at Teku, an Ethereum client, acknowledged the low participation rate was likely due to validator nodes not having upgraded on time for the Goerli fork.
The Shanghai upgrade will complete Ethereum’s full transition to a proof-of-stake (PoS) network by finally allowing validators to withdraw their staked ether as well as any rewards earned from adding or approving blocks to the blockchain. These funds have been locked up since December 2020 when Ethereum’s PoS Beacon Chain went live.
Testnets are used as a testing ground to mimic a main blockchain, allowing developers to patch any bugs before any upgrades are deployed on the mainnet.
Goerli was the last of three testnets to run through such a simulation. This test was the most anticipated of all three given that it has the largest validator set and mimics the Ethereum blockchain’s activity most closely. It was also the last opportunity for staking providers to test that staked ETH withdrawals would be properly processed before the upgrade goes live.
Ethereum developers will meet for their biweekly call on Thursday to ink in a date for the mainnet Shanghai upgrade. During the last biweekly call Ethereum developers discussed a mainnet target date for some time in the beginning of April, which is a slight deviation from their initial timeline set for March.