You will no longer be able to talk about Ethereum 2.0 when referring to the network’s move to Proof of Stake. The Ethereum Foundation has announced a name change: the term “Consensus Layer” will now be used. What motivated this change?
Goodbye Ethereum 2.0, welcome Consensus Layer
Remember. In times immemorial (or almost), the Ethereum community and Vitalik Buterin had started using the term Ethereum 2.0 to refer to the network’s transition to Proof of Stake. At the time, we were naive enough to think that the transition would take a short time and would be easily completed.
A few years later, Ethereum 2.0 has become a symbol. It represents both the monumental task the developers have tackled, but also the limitations of the network, which has been slow to make the transition as long-toothed competitors have emerged of late.
It is this legacy that the Ethereum Foundation wishes to change, or at least rename. This is to reflect the evolution of its strategy over the years. It announced yesterday that the term Ethereum 2.0 would cease to be used, in favor of the term “Consensus Layer”.
The reasons behind this choice
The reasons are first of all technical. The transition from Ethereum to Proof of Stake does not replace all the components of the network. It is more of an update, but some elements will remain unchanged. The Ethereum 1.0 clients have been used in combination with the elements brought by Ethereum 2.0, in order to greatly facilitate the transition.
The result is that the future of Ethereum will be a combination of Ethereum 1.0 (called “execution layer” by the developers) and Ethereum 2.0 (newly called “consensus layer”). It is the combination of these two elements that will give the new version of Ethereum.
To summarize: the execution layer will continue to support the smart contracts and the usual rules applied to the network. The consensus layer is, as its name suggests, the new layer that ensures that the consensus rules are followed, taking into account the Proof of Stake and the staking mechanisms.
All this therefore warrants clarifying how we talk about the different elements that will make up this new version of Ethereum.
A rebranding that clarifies things
The Ethereum Foundation also cites other reasons for the change. It believes the name change will make things simpler for new users:
“A major problem with the name Eth2 is that it creates the wrong mental model for new Ethereum users. They intuitively think that Eth1 comes first and Eth2 comes second, or that Eth1 ceases to exist once Eth2 arrives. Both of these interpretations are not true.”
The Ethereum Foundation also explains that the name gets rid of associated scams. Malicious people have indeed used the name Ethereum 2.0 to entice users to “trade” their ETHs for supposedly new ETH2.0s.
It also notes that some staking service operators have named the tokens used on the Beacon Chain with the ticker “ETH2”. This can cause confusion, as these are actually ETH tokens that have no difference from the others.
In any case, Ethereum 2.0 is such a commonly used term that one imagines that the community will take some time to get used to the new name. But the clarification shows that the payment network is (finally) approaching its transition, which is scheduled for 2022.