Ethereum 2.0 is seemingly just around the corner, with the long-awaited network upgrade switching from proof of work to a proof-of-stake model while implementing various other enhancements. But there will be one more brief pit stop before it can go live.
Today, the Ethereum Foundation announced the impending launch of a second parallel testnet, called Spadina, which will exist alongside the currently active Medalla testnet.
Why run a second one? According to a blog post from developer Danny Ryan, the team doesn’t want to disrupt developers who are currently testing on Medalla, but it does want an updated version of the testnet that allows developers to test out certain specific elements.
The Spadina testnet—which has a mainnet-like configuration—will only last for three days when it goes live later this month, with a particular emphasis on deposits and genesis. Those two aspects are connected. Before the new beacon chain can launch its first (i.e., genesis) block, at least 16,384 validators must have staked over 524,000 ETH between them.
The Spadina testnet will give everyone another chance to go through that process, as well as the launch of the genesis block. In other words, it’ll be a second “dress rehearsal,” as Ryan noted, for everyone before the big launch.
“We realize that both the engineers and the community could use one more public testnet launch before mainnet to run through the motions. At the same time, we want to avoid disrupting Medalla’s momentum,” he wrote.
“If all goes well, it should give us greater peace of mind before we jump into the real deal later this year,” Ryan added. He noted that the testnet might remain live past the planned three-day cycle, but that support will not be provided beyond that timeframe.
The full-fledged mainnet launch of Ethereum 2.0 is currently on track for November, developer Raul Jordan wrote recently. However, the launch has already been delayed multiple times, and Ethereum Foundation researcher Justin Drake wrote in July that a January 2021 launch seemed more likely than the November target.
The launch of a second testnet suggests that the Ethereum Foundation still sees issues to work through before committing to bringing Ethereum 2.0 to mainnet. Just last week, developer Lior Yaffe of Jelurida detailed a potential vulnerability to Decrypt.
Now’s the time to get everything right, although the existing Ethereum network continues to be stressed by ample demand, driving up transaction fees in the process.