What’s Happening: Altair is a Beacon Chain upgrade to help transition the network away from proof of work. The beacon chain is a proof-of-stake chain running on mainnet parallel to the proof-of-work chain.
At present, the Ethereum blockchain uses miners to process transactions. Each miner uses specialized hardware to compete to be the first one to solve a cryptographic puzzle.
Staking ensures decentralization and security by instead having people lock up some of their ETH into the software. For their sacrifice, they become eligible for rewards in the form of more ETH.12.6K
According to the documentation from the Ethereum Foundation, the new features which will make Ethereum 2.0 fully functional ahead of its expected launch next year.
“After the merge, there will be a complete switch of consensus mechanism from ‘proof of work’ to ‘proof of stake,'” said Pooja Ranjan, who heads up a decentralized group of project managers known as the Ethereum Cat Herders. “With a later upgrade in 2022, users may be able to withdraw funds,” she added.