# Upgrade consensus to Proof-of-Stake [toc] ## Simple Summary Specification of the consensus mechanism upgrade on Ethereum Mainnet that introduces Proof-of-Stake. ## Abstract This EIP deprecates Proof-of-Work (PoW) and supersedes it with the new Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism (PoS) driven by the beacon chain. Information on the bootstrapping of the new consensus mechanism is documented in [EIP-2982](/EIPS/eip-2982). Full specification of the beacon chain can be found in [eth2.0-specs](https://github.com/ethereum/eth2.0-specs/) repository. This document specifies the set of changes to the block structure, block processing, the fork choice rule and the network interface introduced by the consensus upgrade. ## Motivation The beacon chain network has been up and running since December 2020. Neither safety nor liveness failures were detected during this period of time. The long period of running without failures demonstrates sustainability of the beacon chain system and witnesses its readiness to start driving and become a security provider for the Ethereum Mainnet. To understand the motivation of introducing the Proof-of-Stake consensus see Motivation section of [EIP-2982](/EIPS/eip-2982#motivation). ## Specification ### Definitions * **PoW block**: Block that is built and verified by the existing proof-of-work mechanism. In other words, a block of the Ethereum network before the consensus upgrade. * **PoS block**: Block that is built and verified by the new proof-of-stake mechanism. * **Terminal PoW block**: A PoW block that satisfies the following conditions -- `pow_block.total_difficulty >= TERMINAL_TOTAL_DIFFICULTY` *and* `pow_block.parent_block.total_difficulty < TERMINAL_TOTAL_DIFFICULTY`. There can be more than one terminal PoW block in the network, e.g. multiple children of the same pre-terminal block. * **`TERMINAL_TOTAL_DIFFICULTY`** The amount of total difficulty reached by the network that triggers the consensus upgrade. * **`TRANSITION_BLOCK`** The earliest PoS block of the canonical chain, i.e. the PoS block with the lowest block height. `TRANSITION_BLOCK` **MUST** be a child of a terminal PoW block. * **`POS_CONSENSUS_VALIDATED`** An event occurring when the PoS block is validated with respect to the proof-of-stake consensus rules. * **`POS_CHAINHEAD_SET`** An event occurring when the PoS block is designated as the head of the canonical chain. * **`POS_BLOCK_FINALIZED`** An event occurring when the PoS block is considered as finalized. #### PoS events Events having the `POS_` prefix in the name (PoS events) are emitted by the new proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. They signify the corresponding assertion that has been made regarding a block specified by the event. The underlying logic of PoS events can be found in the beacon chain specification. On the occurrence of each PoS event the corresponding action that is specified by this EIP **MUST** be taken. Each `POS_BLOCK_FINALIZED` event has a reference to the head of the canonical chain in addition to the finalized block and incorporates the semantics of the `POS_CHAINHEAD_SET` event. Thus, every action and effect that is specified on the occurrence of `POS_CHAINHEAD_SET` event according to this EIP **MUST** also be taken on every occurrence of `POS_BLOCK_FINALIZED` event. ### PoW block processing PoW blocks that are descendants of any terminal PoW block **MUST NOT** be imported. This implies that a terminal PoW block will be the last PoW block in the canonical chain. ### Block structure Beginning with `TRANSITION_BLOCK`, a number of previously dynamic block fields are deprecated by enforcing these values to instead be constants. Each block field listed in the table below **MUST** be replaced with the corresponding constant value. | Field | Constant value | |-|-| | **`ommersHash`** | `Keccak256(RLP(EMPTY_LIST))` | | **`difficulty`** | `0` | | **`extraData`** | `EMPTY_LIST` | | **`mixHash`** | `0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000` | | **`nonce`** | `0x0000000000000000` | | **`ommers`** | `EMPTY_LIST` | *Note*: `EMPTY_LIST` denotes `[]` respecting the semantics of the corresponding field. *Note*: Logic and validity conditions of block fields that are *not* specified here **MUST** remain unchanged. Additionally, the overall block format **MUST** remain unchanged. ### Block validity Beginning with `TRANSITION_BLOCK`, the block validity conditions **MUST** be altered by the following: * Remove verification of the block's **`difficulty`** value with respect to the difficulty formula. * Remove verification of the block's **`nonce`** and **`mixHash`** values with respect to the Ethash function. * Remove all validation rules that are evaluated over the list of ommers and each member of this list, except for enforcing this list to be empty. * Add verification of the fields noted in [block structure](#Block-structure) as their specified constant value, including the enforcement of empty ommers list. * Add verification of block validity with respect to the PoS consensus rules, i.e. assert that there **MUST** be a corresponding event for the block to consider it valid. Such events are limited to the following: * A `POS_CONSENSUS_VALIDATED` event considering the block or any of its descendants as valid. * A `POS_CHAINHEAD_SET` event, including the `POS_BLOCK_FINALIZED` form of this event, designating the block or any of its descendants as the head of the canonical chain. *Note*: If one of the new rules fails then the block **MUST** be invalidated. *Note*: Validity rules that are not specified in the list above **MUST** remain unchanged. ### Block and ommer rewards Beginning with `TRANSITION_BLOCK`, block and ommer rewards are deprecated. Specifically, the following actions **MUST** be taken: * Remove increasing the balance of the block's **`beneficiary`** account by the basic block reward. * Remove increasing the balance of the block's **`beneficiary`** account by the ommer inclusion reward per each ommer. * Remove increasing the balance of the ommer's **`beneficiary`** account by the ommer block reward per each ommer. *Note*: Transaction fee mechanics affecting the block's `beneficiary` account **MUST** remain unchanged. ### Fork choice rule As of the first `POS_CHAINHEAD_SET` event, the fork choice rule **MUST** be altered in the following way: * Remove the existing PoW heaviest chain rule. * Adhere to the new PoS LMD-GHOST rule. The new PoS LMD-GHOST fork choice rule is specified as follows. On each occurrence of a `POS_CHAINHEAD_SET` event including the first one, the following actions **MUST** be taken: * Consider the chain starting at genesis and ending with the block nominated by the event as the canonical blockchain. * Set the head of the canonical blockchain to the block nominated by the event. ### Network The networking stack **SHOULD NOT** send the following messages if they advertise the descendant of any terminal PoW block: * [`NewBlockHashes (0x01)`](https://github.com/ethereum/devp2p/blob/master/caps/eth.md#newblockhashes-0x01) * [`NewBlock (0x07)`](https://github.com/ethereum/devp2p/blob/master/caps/eth.md#newblock-0x07) Beginning with the first `POS_BLOCK_FINALIZED` event, the networking stack **MUST** remove the handlers corresponding to the following ETH protocol messages: * [`NewBlockHashes (0x01)`](https://github.com/ethereum/devp2p/blob/master/caps/eth.md#newblockhashes-0x01) * [`NewBlock (0x07)`](https://github.com/ethereum/devp2p/blob/master/caps/eth.md#newblock-0x07) ## Rationale The changes specified in this EIP target a minimal requisite set of consensus and client software modifications to safely replace the existing proof-of-work consensus algorithm with the new proof-of-stake consensus represented by the already in-production beacon chain. Minimalism in this changeset was chosen to reduce the complexity of the unprecedented task of hot-swapping the live consensus of the Ethereum network in order both to increase the safety of the operation and to reduce the time to production. Additionally, a minimal changeset helps ensure that *most* smart contracts and services will continue to function as intended during and after the transition with little to no required intervention. ### Total difficulty triggering the upgrade See [Security considerations](#Terminal-total-difficulty-vs-block-number). ### Halting the import of PoW blocks See [Security considerations](#Halt-the-importing-of-PoW-blocks). ### Replacing block fields with constants Deprecated block fields are replaced with constant values to ensure the block format remains backwards compatible. Preserving the block format aids existing smart contracts and services in providing uninterrupted service during and after this transition. This change introduces an additional validity rule that enforces the replacement of deprecated block fields. ### Replacing `difficulty` with `0` After deprecating the proof-of-work the notion of difficulty no longer exists and replacing the block header **`difficulty`** field with `0` constant is semantically sound. ### Deprecating `extraData` The **`extraData`** field is deprecated in favour of the corresponding **`graffiti`** field of the beacon block. ### Changing block validity rules The rule set enforcing the PoW seal validity is replaced with the corresponding PoS rules along with the consensus upgrade as the rationale behind this change. An additional rule validating a set of deprecated block fields is required by the block format changes introduced by this specification. ### Removing block rewards Existing rewards for producing and sealing blocks are deprecated along with the PoW mechanism. The new PoS consensus becomes both responsible for sealing blocks and for issuing block rewards once this specification enters into effect. ### Supplanting fork choice rule The fork choice rule of the PoW mechanism becomes completely irrelevant after the upgrade and is replaced with the corresponding rule of the new PoS consensus mechanism. ### Removing block gossip After the upgrade of the consensus mechanism only the beacon chain network will have enough information to validate a block. Thus, block gossip provided by the `eth` network protocol will become unsafe and is deprecated in favour of the block gossip existing in the beacon chain network. It is recommended for the client software to not propagate descendants of any terminal PoW block to reduce the load on processing the P2P component and stop operating in the environment with unknown security properties. ## Test Cases *TBD* ## Reference Implementation *TBD* ## Backwards Compatibility This EIP introduces backward incompatibilities in block validity, block rewards and fork choice rule. The design of the consensus upgrade specified by this document does not introduce backward incompatibilities for existing applications and services built on top of Ethereum except for those that are described in the [EVM](#EVM) section below or heavily depends on the PoW consensus in any other way. ### EVM Although this EIP does not introduce any explicit changes to the EVM there are a couple of places where it may affect the logic of existing smart contracts. #### DIFFICULTY `DIFFICULTY` operation will always return `0` after this EIP takes effect and deprecates the **`difficulty`** field by replacing it with `0` constant. *Note:* Altering the `DIFFICULTY` semantics to return randomness accumulated by the beacon chain is under consideration but will be introduced in a separate EIP. #### BLOCKHASH Pseudo-random numbers obtained as the output of `BLOCKHASH` operation become more insecure after this EIP takes effect and the PoW mechanism (which decreases the malleability of block hashes) gets supplanted by PoS. ## Security Considerations ### Beacon chain See Security Considerations section of [EIP-2982](/EIPS/eip-2982#security-considerations). ### Transition process The transition process used to take this specification into effect is a more sophisticated version of a hardfork -- the regular procedure of applying backwards incompatible changes in the Ethereum network. This process has multiple successive steps instead of the normal block-height point condition of simpler hardforks. The complexity of this upgrade process stems from this fork targeting the underlying consensus mechanism rather than the application layer within the consensus mechanism. Although the design seeks simplicity where possible, safety and liveness considerations during this transition have been prioritized. #### Terminal total difficulty vs block number Using a pre-defined block number for the hardfork is unsafe in this context due to the PoS fork choice taking priority during the transition. An attacker may use a minority of hash power to build a malicious chain fork that would satisfy the block height requirement. Then the first PoS block may be maliciously proposed on top of the PoW block from this adversarial fork, becoming the head and subverting the security of the transition. To protect the network from this attack scenario, difficulty accumulated by the chain (total difficulty) is used to trigger the upgrade. #### Ability to jump between terminal PoW blocks There could be the case when a terminal PoW block is not observed by the majority of network participants due to (temporal) network partitioning. In such a case, this minority would switch their fork choice to the new rule provided by the PoS rooted on the minority terminal PoW block that they observed. The transition process allows the network to re-org between forks with different terminal PoW blocks as long as (a) these blocks satisfy the terminal PoW block conditions and (b) a `POS_BLOCK_FINALIZED` has not yet been received. This provides resilience against adverse network conditions during the transition process and prevents irreparable forks/partitions. #### Halt the importing of PoW blocks Suppose the part of the client software that is connected to the beacon chain network goes offline before the Ethereum network reaches the `TERMINAL_TOTAL_DIFFICULTY` and stays offline while the network meets this threshold. Such an event makes the client software unable to switch to PoS and allows it to keep following the PoW chain if this chain is being built beyond the terminal PoW block. Depending on how long the beacon chain part was offline, it could result in different adverse effects such as: * The client has no post-state for the terminal PoW block (the state has been pruned) which prevents it from doing the re-org to the PoS chain and leaving syncing from scratch as the only option to recover. * An application, a user or a service uses the data from the wrong fork (PoW chain that is kept being built) which can cause security issues on their side. Not importing PoW blocks that are beyond the terminal PoW block prevents these adverse effects on safety/re-orgs in the event of software or configuration failures *in favor* of a liveness failure. ### Further threat analysis _TBD_ ## Copyright Copyright and related rights waived via [CC0](https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/).