MEXC Research: Ethereum Beacon Chain and Altair Upgrade Beacon Chain

4 min readAug 20, 2021

Beacon chain is the core component of Ethereum 2.0. The purpose is to introduce PoS mechanism and run it independently on Ethereum 1.0 for about 2 years. Meanwhile, Ethereum 2.0’s testnet Pyrmont will undergo the Ethereum Beacon Chain’s first hard fork upgrade called Altair on August 19.

ETH2.0 Ethereum will build a three-layer network structure, including the existing PoW main chain, Beacon Chain, and Shard Chains. It can be divided into three stages, first the current beacon chain introduces the PoS mechanism, followed by merging. However, the current beacon chain will co-exist separately with the 1.0 PoW main chain until it completely replaces 1.0. The last step is the shard chains, which splits and distributes the load on the data, to improve the operational speed of Ethereum.

Shard Chains: The Ethereum chain will be split into several different chains (64 fragments will be deployed initially). Shard chains are relatively independent. It operates relatively independently because communication between shard chains increase network complexity and reduces efficiency.

Beacon Chain: Responsible for managing and coordinating the shard chains, introducing the PoS mechanism but will not process accounts and smart contracts, which will be done by the shard chains instead. This means, that beacon chains do not have critical data, do not store account balances, token locations, DApp status, and so on, and stores only validators and the proofs.

On the beacon chain, members of the verification committee will vote on the final consistency of the status results of the transaction blocks in different shard networks on the beacon chain based on the PoS consensus mechanism. The committee is the validator that is serving the beacon chain. It is randomly assigned to a shard chain and cross linked to the beacon chain.

That is to say, tens of thousands of nodes on beacon chain networks can become “validators” when they stake ETH. These validators form committees, each committee contains 128 randomly selected nodes, and then the nodes in each committee will complete the consensus and verification process of the beacon chain and shard chains to ensure the consistency of the whole network.

In 2.0, the validator node will replace the miner role that previously handled transactions and created blocks. To achieve this, the deployment of beacon chains requires at least 16438 active validators, replacing previous miners to maintain the entire block chain network. But since real POW mining is not required, it is a virtual mining at some level.

Beacon Node: The beacon node is equivalent to a miner for ETH 2.0. It is responsible for validating the validator, aggregating the signatures, obtaining the necessary data to build a new block and passing it to the validator node for validation.

Validator Node: Verifier Node is very lightweight software that is responsible for linking blockchain networks.

In short, Ethereum 2.0 can be divided into three stages, which is analogous to the heart, four limbs, brain, that is, responsible for core motivation, specific actions, profound and highly complex planning and capabilities.

Stage 0: Beacon Chain, Stage 1: Shard, Stage 2: Execution.

More than 210,000 validator nodes are currently on the beacon chain, which means more than 6.6 million ETHs are staked. According to CoinGecko data on circulation, the amount of staked ETH is about 5.6% of the circulation.

Beacon Chain Test Network (Pyrmont) Altair Upgrade

Altair is a relatively small beacon chain update in Ethereum and the first planned upgrade of the beacon chain. The main content includes changes to Ethereum 2.0 staking and the calculation of rewards and penalties, as well as the introduction of sync committees for light client. The Beacon Chain Test Network Altair upgrade will start at 12:00 p.m. (UTC) on August 19.

Altair released the alpha version of the testnet in May and changed from Alpha to Beta in mid-July.

Light Client

Light Client or Light Node is software that connects all nodes to interact with block chains. Unlike full nodes, light clients do not have to keep running or read and write a lot of information from the block chain. They use full nodes as intermediaries, rely on full nodes for many operations, thus requesting the latest block header to requested account balance, and so on.

1. Provides a better experience for users to access block chains in a distributed and secure manner.

2. With minimal storage and low computation, the application can be used to validate transactions on one’s mobile phone to improve block chain efficiency.

Earlier, Danny Ryan, core developer of the Ethereum Foundation, published an article on the official Ethereum blog announcing steady progress in Altair, the first upgrade in the beacon chain. He also indicates that after successful deployment of Altair upgrade update with Ethereum beacon chain, the focus will be shifted to the merging phase of Eth1.0 and Eth2.0.


ETH2.0 wants to build a new generation of the Ethernet blockchain network. The goal is to complete the conversion of the consensus mechanism of the main network from PoW to PoS, apply sharding technology to improve performance, and to use more advanced virtual machines to speed up the execution of smart contracts.

There are four stages of development in the Ethereum Plan, namely, the Frontier (July 2015), Homestead (March 2016), Metropolis (October 2017), and Serenity. Among them, Serenity is the final stage for Ethereum, marking that Ethereum has reached stage 2.0. At present, Ethereum is at Serenity final stage, but the launch of 2.0 is mainly divided into three stages. The tasks needed to be achieved are PoS consensus, data sharding and transaction sharding.

Overall, although Ethereum has entered 2.0 and reached phase 0, there is still a long way to go to achieve the full ETH2.0 vision.