Echoing the Wild West theme, these terms represent four different stages in the development of Ethereum.
The four stages of the Ethereum network are Frontier, Homestead, Metropolis and Serenity. Let’s see what each of them entails.
Step one: Frontier (July 2015)
Like the Wild West, the frontier is where everything begins; it is the Ethereum network in its “barest” form: “an interface to mine Ether, and a way to upload and execute contracts. The main use of Frontier on the launch trajectory is to get mining operations and Ether exchanges running, so the community can get their mining rigs started, and to start to establish a ‘live’ environment where people can test DApps and acquire Ether to upload their own software into Ethereum.” It is basically where developers learn and experiment, “building Ethereum decentralized apps and tools.”
Step two: Homestead (March 2016)
This is the next step, initiated after Frontier was classified as “safe” by core developers. This is the first production release of Ethereum which includes protocol improvements and a networking change which allows for further upgrades.
Step three: Metropolis (Oct 2017)
This is the third release which offers a lighter, faster and more secure Ethereum separated into two releases that of the Byzantium hard fork (October 2017) and the Constantinople hard fork (February 2019).
Step four: Serenity (2021)
“Ethereum 2.0” or Serenity is the much-anticipated update which, according to Joseph Lubin, Ethereum’s co-founder, will make Ethereum “1000 times more scalable.” It is expected to be completed around 2021.
Prysmatic Labs, which is the software development team behind the upgrade, released an article explaining that “Ethereum 2.0 is a multi-year effort to create a fully decentralized, permissionless platform for programmable cryptocurrency. It aims to be a full upgrade to the current Ethereum Proof of Work blockchain and provide a significant increase in security, scalability, and decentralization.”
Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin announced that Serenity will mark a transition on Proof-Of-Stake algorithm (Casper), sharding implementation, virtual machine (EWASM) upgrade and change of cross-contract logic of the protocol. The fourth and final phase of Ethereum would significantly make Ethereum faster and more efficient.