Christmas came early this year, says renowned Ethereum developer Tim Beiko. He is of course referring to the public launch of the Ethereum merge testnet “Kintsugi”.

The much anticipated launch was announced today (Tuesday) in a post on the official Ethereum foundation blog.

What’s A Public Testnet?

The Ethereum Kintsugi testnet will essentially mirror the activity of the main Ethereum blockchain (the ‘mainnet’) but without actually affecting it in any way.

Ethereum Kintsugi Testnet
Ethereum “Kintsugi” Testnet. Source: Ethereum Foundation Blog

That means that users and developers can experiment with the network, test apps, break things, and generally see how things are looking. Bugs? No worries, fixed. Exploits? Report them and the devs got it. Smart contracts? Gotta test them.

“Although client development and UX [user experience] continue to be refined, we encourage the community to start using Kintsugi to familiarize themselves with Ethereum in a post-merge context.”

Tim Beiko

Ethereum Proof-Of-Stake Move: “The Merge”

The Ethereum Kintsugi testnet launch is part of a long process of upgrades to the Ethereum network, dubbed “The Merge”. This process kicked off with the launch of the Ethereum Beacon Chain (which recently celebrated its 1st anniversary). Prior to Kintsugi, four other testnets launched with developer-only access. 

“We recommend most projects begin testing and prototyping on Kintsugi to surface any potential issues soon. This way, changes can more easily be incorporated in future client and specification versions”

Tim Beiko

Once Kintsugi and the other testnets reach stability, a final upgrade will happen that will effectively merge the Ethereum blockchain with the Beacon Chain, completing the switch to Proof-Of-Stake.

Everyone’s Waiting On Ethereum 2.0

With the surge in DeFi transactions and the meteoric rise of NFTs, its no secret that Ethereum is getting extremely congested. With its current Proof-Of-Work mechanism, the protocol can only handle (believe it or not) 13 transactions per second. And let’s not even mention the sky-high fees. Too painful.

With a complete move to Proof-Of-Stake, Ethereum’s blockchain will be able to handle a cool 100,000 transactions per second (almost 10 times more than VISA). While it’s unclear how that will affect gas fees, everyone’s hoping for a faster, more secure and more scalable Ethereum.