The Ethereum roadmap has signposted a transition from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS) "in the upcoming months," according to a blog post by the Ethereum Foundation this week. The headline change is that this will mean that ETH no longer requires "a country's worth of power" to run the Beacon chain. The new PoS total power consumption is going to be an estimated 99.95 per cent lower than the current PoW model. Last but not least there is expected to be an impact on the PC GPU market.
Some numbers and comparisons put forward by the Ethereum Foundation are provided, as follows;
- PoW Ethereum miners currently consume 5.13 gigawatts on a continuing basis, like a medium-sized country.
- PoS Ethereum will consume something in the order of 2.62 megawatts, like a small US town of about 2,100 homes.
Going forward, it is asserted that the energy sucked from power grids worldwide for ETH will not increase significantly beyond the above projections. "Under PoW, as the price of ETH and the hashrate are positively correlated. Therefore, as the price increases, in equilibrium so too does the power consumed by the network," explains the ETH blog. "Under Proof-of-Stake, when the price of ETH increases, the security of the network does too (the value of the ETH at-stake is worth more), but the energy requirements remain unchanged." This will make ETH a much greener cryptocurrency.
The advantages of the upcoming changes to PoS extend to energy consumption per transaction too, which as you can see below, is a major flaw in Bitcoin (BTC).
GPU mining days are numbered?
One of the key changes "in the upcoming months," which will be of interest to PC enthusiasts and gamers, is that mining of ETH will end, so the GPUs tied up in this task will be sold off as the transition approaches, or diverted to mine some other cryptocurrency which is found to be a worthwhile endeavour.
ETH currently has a quite particular balance of GPU minability, and profitability due to its valuation, that have made GPU hardware mining so popular. Some reckon that there isn't a comparable cryptocurrency that could absorb a diversion of PoW power from ETH without becoming much more difficult to mine and basically making the job impractical/unprofitable in short-order.
A lesser spotted GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
Those watching the valuations of BTC and ETH over recent hours will have seen quite a nosedive in valuations, with both key cryptocurrencies 40 per cent or more down from 2021 highs. Various impacts (news from China / Elon Musk) have caused this slump, and while there has been a reversal in recent hours it is hard to know if we are seeing a 'dead cat bounce' or not.