On March 8, 2018, Casper FFG’s developer, Danny Ryan, posted a first release of Casper’s code on GitHub. He noted that, “v0.1.0 marks us more clearly tagging releases to help clients and external auditors more easily track the contract and changes.”
What Is Ethereum Casper?
Casper is the Proof-of-Stake protocol that Ethereum has chosen to transition to from its current Proof-of-Work protocol. As we mentioned before, the process of mining via the Proof-of-Work protocol is both time and energy consuming. Miners solve cryptographic puzzles in order to mine a block that, when verified, is added to the blockchain. For most miners this requires investing in expensive computer equipment and paying large energy costs. As a result, mining is becoming more centralized in the hands of larger organizations.
In order to minimize energy use and decentralize mining further, Ethereum intends to transition to Proof-of-Stake protocol. This protocol will eventually replace miners with validators who will be required to lock up some of their coins as a stake in the blockchain. They will be paid for their work with transaction fees instead of the current rewards for solving puzzles. The validators will validate blocks by placing bets on them, and will be paid proportionate to the amount of their bet.
A Proof-of-Stake protocol is vulnerable to manipulation by malicious miners because it allows them to force hardforks. In order to work around that possibility, Ethereum is developing Casper. Casper FFG (Friendly Finality Gadget) is the version of Casper that Ethereum will implement first. Casper FFG is a hybrid Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. Under Casper FFG, miners will still mine blocks via Proof-of-Work, but every 50th block will be a Proof-of-Stake checkpoint, and validators will assess it in order to make sure no malicious mining is occurring.
The minimum stake for validators will be 1,500 ether to begin with as the network cannot handle too many validating nodes at present. Eventually the plan is to lower the minimum state and move to a system that is fully Proof-of-Stake, but when that will happen, no one knows.
For now, ethereum software clients can look over the coming changes and start scripting the software into their coding languages and testing it. Auditors also have their work to do. Before the network can implement Casper FFG, more code must be written for ethereum clients. Vitalik Buterin, seems pleased and optimistic, however. At a recent conference in Toronto he called this Casper upgrade, “hopefully one of the more joyous experiences in ethereum in a fairly short time.”