Furthermore, what does running an ethereum node mean post-merge? Running an execution node, consensus node, or both, and in what combinations, do the execution and consensus nodes talk to each other if I'm not running a validator? Thanks!

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RAM is not a bottleneck, 32 GB is more than enough, but you need fast NVEe SSD disks at least worth 2 TB.

You can run execution and consensus nodes both on the same server.

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