The Ethereum 2.0 team has formalized the launch date of the first full testnet designed to simulate mainnet conditions.

Called Medalla, the new multi-client testnet is set to be the last one before mainnet launch occurs. Medalla means “medal” in Spanish, a reference to the “Olympic” Ethereum 1.0 testnet that immediately preceded the full launch.

According to a July 23 post by Danny Ryan, the Ethereum Foundation’s Eth 2.0 coordinator, Medalla will launch no earlier than August 4 at 1 PM UTC. The launch date is not set in stone as there are two conditions necessary for its launch.

The first is the “minimum genesis time” — a manually set parameter that defines the earliest that the testnet can be launched. The second condition involves the number of validators who signed up for the testnet. Medalla will only start if at least 16,384 deposits for 32 ETH each have been committed 48 hours before the minimum genesis time. If that fails, it will launch 48 hours after the milestone is reached.

Medalla simulates the proposed Ethereum 2.0 mainnet as closely as possible, thus the minimum deposits requirement. Anyone can sign up to be a validator by depositing 32 ETH from the Goerli testnet.

Four clients will be ready for launch, with Nimbus and Teku being new mainstays along with Lighthouse and Prysm. There are another four clients in active development that are not yet available at launch. Ryan said he expects Lodestar to be “on net in some capacity,” while teasing another “surprise client.”

Clients are used to run nodes, and they define the blockchain in many ways. Compared with dominance of Geth in Ethereum 1.0, the foundation aggressively pushed for more clients for the next generation.

The Medalla testnet is expected to be maintained by the community, unlike previous iterations that were referred to as “devnets.” In addition to the testnet, the foundation is also sponsoring separate “attacknets” for white hat hackers to break.

Progress on Phase 1

The work currently being done sets up the beacon chain for Ethereum 2.0. This will be the main coordinator of the various shards. Ethereum users will be able to stake their ETH through a deposit contract on Ethereum 1.0, but they will not be able to transact with Ethereum 2.0 tokens, nor will they be able to get them back until Phase 1 launches. 

Though Ethereum 1.0 was initially proposed as a separate chain until almost the entire way through the 2.0 rollout, a proposal being studied since December 2019 could hasten the process significantly. The Eth 2.0 and 1.0 clients would be hybridized such that the former would manage consensus and block validation, while the latter would pass all the information on blocks and transactions. Ethereum 1.0 would essentially be one of the many shards.

The implementation is currently being developed and has achieved some key milestones. The Eth 1.0 Geth client was successfully modified to outsource its consensus, while a sharding simulation client was adapted to work with Ethereum 1.0 blocks.