Ethereum Roadmap Update [2019]: Casper & Sharding Release Date

By Shawn Dexter / January 15, 2019

In this post Shawn discusses the recent Ethereum Update in regard to their roadmap for Casper & Sharding. Casper FFG with the 1500 ETH minimum stake will be removed from the Ethereum Roadmap and replaced with Casper v2 implementing a beacon chain. Shawn also provides us with estimates for the updated Ethereum Casper release dates

Ethereum Roadmap 2019:  Updates, Changes & Release 

If it’s been awhile since you last checked the Ethereum Roadmap – then oh boy, you’re in for some surprises. A lot has changed since the beginning of 2018 and even 2019!. We've seen sudden delays, timelines  extended and priorities have shifted (rightfully so…).

The biggest one of date has been the postponing of Ethereum's Constantinople Update for 2019. However Ethereum has also unveiled a "new" roadmap called Ethereum 2.0.

The most recent Ethereum updates have a lot of people confused. I don’t blame them. Crucial updates are found buried in comment sections across various forums and news websites have been vague. It's hard to keep up. 

Ethereum Roadmap:  Updates & Delays!

The recent delays and roadmap changes have created some confusion. Several people are misunderstanding Ethereum 2.0 – and I don't really blame them.

In this post, we will clear out any confusion in regard Ethereum 2.0 roadmap update (Serenity), the Constantinople Delay, the expected ETH PoS date and any other updates on Ethereum's Serenity release.

NoteThis post has been updated as of January 17th 2019 – and a lot may change from now. In the beginning of this article we discuss the roadmap update for Ethereum – which includes the big Serenity Release. We then discuss a keystone of the roadmap & Serenity – the Constantinople update and its delay in 2019.

Further down in this article we discuss Ethereum's casper release date estimations and why the release of POS has been pushed back. 

Ethereum Roadmap: Ethereum 2.0,  Constantinople & Serenity

Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum unveiled their new roadmap and dubbed it "Ethereum 2.0". But everyone seems to be misunderstanding the concept behind Ethereum 2.0. In fact, the core team has been receiving criticism for changing their minds too often. In truth, plans haven't changed much at all – they are simply more defined.

Ethereum 2.0 won't be a single big update release. Instead, it will be a series of updates that will lead to a more efficient, faster & scalable Ethereum.

Ethereum 2.0: Solving The Trilemma

Some of the major updates that will be included in Ethereum 2.0 will be:

  1. Sharding 
  2.  Proof Of Stake & Beacon Chain
  3.  eWasm.
Ethereum Roadmap Update Ethereum 2.0 2019

Ethereum 2.0: Roadmap Update 2019

The combination of these releases will synergise with each other in order to tackle the Blockchain Trilemma problem (read my analogy: The Village Trilemma) In essence, the Blockchain Trilemma forces a blockchain to pick two of the following:  

  1. Security
  2. Decentralization 
  3.  Scalability

However, Vitalik Buterin and the rest of the Ethereum team sought to find the right balance between the three. This was no easy problem to tackle. However,  the release of Sharding, Proof Of Stake and eWasm achieves just that. Ethereum 2.0 will be a huge milestone in the Ethereum roadmap.

Constantinople: Pivotal In The Roadmap

Another pivotal and much awaited milestone on the Ethereum roadmap is the Constantinople Hard Fork.  I provide a simple breakdown of the Constantinople and its major updates in a separate post. But I'll give you guys a quick rundown over here as well.

The Ethereum team has had three major roadmap milestones laid out for them since 2016:

  • Byzantium 
  • Constantinople
  • Serenity

Each of these milestones laid the groundwork for eventually moving to Proof OF Stake (Serenity). Byzantium provided the much needed security. And Constantinople was going lay the pieces to allow the transition to Serenity (Casper V2).  Constantinople was originally supposed to include a hybrid PoW/PoS model. However, the Ethereum developers decided to scratch that idea and move forward with another plan. This led to a delay in roadmap – and Serenity (proof of stake) would have to be pushed back.

I explain the reasons for the change in plan and the delay of PoS later in this post.

Ethereum Roadmap Before Update 2018

Ethereum's Roadmap: Byzantium, Constantinople & Serenity

Constantinople plays an important role in Ethereum's transition to Ethereum 2.0. The update is going to include major improvements such as the block reward reduction, reduced transaction costs and compatibility for State Channels.

A description of Ethereum's Constantinople Roadmap Update in 2019

Constantinople was key in the Ethereum Roadmap

The hard fork was initially scheduled for for January 16th 2019 but was delayed at the last minute due to a  discovery of a security vulnerability.

Ethereum's Roadmap & Release Schedule 2019 - 2021

The Ethereum Roadmap will always be evolving. However, the major goals of achieving the right balance of scalability, security & decentralization have never changed – and will be unlikely to change in the future. Ethereum 2.0 is simply a new label to define those  goals in a clear & concise manner.

Ethereum Casper V2 – Still Part Of The Ethereum 2.0 Roadmap!

At this point, some of you may be asking:

"Wait – what happened to Ethereum's Casper?"

As can be seen from the image above, Ethereum 2.0 includes Proof Of Stake and Sharding as its major updates. Both of these updates are the two major components of Ethereum Casper V2.  So in truth, Casper V2 is  included in the Ethereum 2.0 roadmap. 

The image below shows the estimated release schedule and roadmap based on the new Ethereum Casper Updates.

Ethereum Casper Release Date Updated 2018 - Infographic & Illustration

Updated Ethereum Casper Release Dates (2019 Estimates]

As you can see, the expected dates for Ethereum PoS (test & release) is somewhere in mid 2019. The exact date for Ethereum's Casper Proof Of Stake is uncertain. If you are an ETH investor or interested in investing, I suggest you read up on the events leading up to these delays. In the next section I explain transition from the Initial Ethereum Roadmap and the Updated Ethereum Roadmap with Casper Version 2.

Ethereum PoS Date & ETH Roadmap - The Quick Read on ETH PoS

I know some of you are busy and  want a quick overview on the Ethereum Roadmap and pos date. So I wrote this section in that vein. This section will likely evolve with the updates on the Ethereum Casper release dates.

ETH holders are probably excited for the Ethereum PoS release date. The Proof of Stake update will allow them to stake their ETH and become validators on the Ethereum Network. However, the Ethereum roadmap changed since the beginning of 2018 which has caused a few delays. This pushes the new Ethereum PoS date back to mid 2019. But it's not all bad news. In fact, for most ETH holders the new ETH PoS date may be a blessing in disguise.

Ethereum PoS Date & Delay - Not All Bad News

Casper FFG has been discarded and we will be moving directly to Casper V2. This will allow ETH investors to become a validator with as little as 32 ETH. This is a huge win for a majority of ETH holders and will also keep the network decentralised.  Initially, Casper FFG would require a deposit of 1000 ETH into the Ethereum Proof Of Stake chain. And the plan was to reduce the 1000 ETH requirement when Sharding would finally be released. During this time, only large ETH investors would be able to take part in the PoS process – which leads to centralisation and lack of inclusivity.

However, they have now decided to skip a step, and build Casper on the same chain that will be used for Sharding. This called the "Beacon Chain" which will serve as the ETH PoS chain and also serve as the base layer for Sharding. I explain this in more detail over here:  Casper V2: Sharding & Beacon Chain Explained Simply.  This is the fundamental reason why the 32 ETH deposit will be feasible. 

Ethereum: The Initial Roadmap

First, let’s quickly go over what the road map was supposed to be last year. Again, I’m going to keep this simple.

As of last year, the roadmap included two major milestones: Metropolis & Serenity

Both of these milestones were efforts to move towards eventual scalability with Proof Of Stake & Sharding. 

Ethereum Roadmap Before Update  2018

Ethereum Roadmap Before Update

Metropolis was divided into two phases:

Phase 1: Byzantine
The Byzantium update would bring privacy improvements. It took place on the Ethereum chain last year.  

Phase 2: Constantinople  
PoW/PoS Hybrid (Casper FFG) and more.  Constantinople was supposed to happen earlier this year. But all priorities were shifted to rolling out Proof Of Stake & Sharding as soon as possible.

Up until June 2018, Constantinople’s Casper FFG was still in play. However, that plan is now being dropped as well – for something more clean and efficient. This brings us to the new release-date milestone on the Ethereum Roadmap for 2018:  Casper V2

Casper 2.0: The Initial Plan

The initial plan was to transition to Proof Of Stake with Casper FFG. Casper 2.0 was to be a Smart Contract that allowed you to become a validator with a deposit of 1500 ETH. The Ethereum estimated this release date to be somewhere in 2018.

Proof Of Stake was to be implemented first and the team would roll out Sharding after. There were separate deposit pools for Sharding and Casper.  

To Summarise:

  1. Casper FFG to be a Hybrid PoS and PoW chain
  2. 1500 Ether deposit required to become a validator
  3. Casper rolled out first, Sharding rolled out after

​​​​Casper 2.1: The Confusion over the Releases

Due to some misleading posts and misunderstood comments, several people are confused. These are the two primary impressions that people have in regard to the Casper update:

  1. Casper and Sharding will be combined and launched together.
  2. Sharding will now be prioritized over Proof Of Stake

This is not true at all. And it’s important that expectations are set right.

Casper 2.1: The Real Roadmap

The plan for Casper FFG requiring 1500 ETH deposits will be scrapped.  Casper V2 will be implementing a “beacon chain” – onto which Casper and Sharding will be merged (here is where people get confused).

This does not mean that Casper and Sharding will be launched on the beacon chain together. It simply means that Casper and Sharding will be implemented on the same chain.  So, Casper could come first, and Sharding be implemented much later. Or vice-versa. 

Ethereum Roadmap Casper FFG vs Casper V2 Ethereum Update

Casper FFG vs Casper V2 Ethereum Update

So to summarise:

  1. A Beacon Chain that will be used for both: Casper & PoS validators

  2. Sharding and Casper will be worked on concurrently – they are independent efforts

  3. Only 32 Ether minimum staking deposits

The beacon chain was originally supposed to be used only for the Sharding implementation.

An Analogy For The Casper V2 Update 

The Casper V2 Ethereum Update has been confusing a lot of people. I don’t blame you guys – the information has been all over the place. But maybe this analogy will help:

Think of the Casper and Sharding as two cars going to a family picnic. To get there, both cars have to merge onto Highway 10. We’re not sure which car will merge on first. We simply know that:

  1. Both cars are headed there (Casper and Sharding are the two cars)
  2. Both need the Highway to get there efficiently (Beacon chain)
  3. Everyone needs to eventually get to the family picnic (scalability)

Similarly, Casper and Sharding are two independent projects – either could be completed first.This unified approach will allow for a minimum staking requirement of 32 ETH deposits.

Casper will most likely be launched first, but we can’t rule out the possibility of Sharding going faster.

Ethereum 2.0 & Casper Release Date:  Conclusion & Summary

Ethereum's release date for Casper FFG was scheduled for 2018. However, the new version of Casper will have a release date somewhere in 2019-2021. Yes, the rather timeline for release is vague, but there's good reason for that. Let's recap quickly:

PoS Release Date Delay: FFG was Scrapped

As mentioned, the initial plan was to roll out Casper FFG as a hybrid PoS/PoW. Casper FFG would have Proof of Stake (PoS) but would not have Sharding. With the PoS release, Validators would be allowed to deposit ETH in order to stake. However, they would require to 1500 ETH in order to participate in the PoS consensus. This wasn't ideal because it would entail a lot of centralisation.

Ethereum Casper Release Date Updated 2018 - Infographic & Illustration

Updated Ethereum Casper Release Dates (2018 Estimates]

In 2018,  the need for scaling became increasingly urgent. The Ethereum team shifted all focus to the key releases that would move the needle toward scalability; namely, the PoS release and Sharding release.  Casper FFG was to be the first PoS release, but would still use the PoW chain. This release date was estimated to be somewhere in 2018. The team was to release Sharding after PoS.

Ethereum Shifted Focus to Releasing Casper & Sharding ASAP

Casper FFG allow Ethereum to release a PoS quicker. However, it would entail "double work". Since Ethereum would have to eventually release/migrate to a pure PoS chain. Because of this, they decided to scrap working on Casper FFG. They will now be working toward releasing Casper V2 – which will have PoS on the beacon chain as well. Since Sharding will be implemented on the beacon chain as well, it allows Ethereum to have a unified approach for their releases.

Unfortunately, this  pushes back the release date for Ethereum Casper V2 to around 2019-2020. Sharding will be released on the same beacon chain that will be used by the PoS release. This does not imply that Casper and PoS are coming together.  I would estimate it's release date to be in 2021. But there's a possibility that it may beat the PoS to the release finish-line. 

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About the author

Shawn Dexter

Shawn is a blockchain & distributed ledger technology enthusiast with a strong background in Computer Science, Product Management and Entrepreneurship.


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