In April, Ethereum completed the highly anticipated Merge and Shapella (Shanghai+Capella) Upgrades, successfully transitioning from Proof of Work (POW) to Proof of Stake (POS) consensus. This is a major achievement for Ethereum and sets the stage for exciting developments ahead.
The next big move on Ethereum’s roadmap is EIP 4844, also known as “Proto-Danksharding”. This exciting upgrade is named after two brilliant Ethereum developers, Protolambda and Dankrad Feist. What does it bring to the table? Well, EIP 4844 introduces a game-changing transaction type called “blobs”. These blobs are specifically designed to enhance the scalability of roll-ups built on top of Ethereum. This means faster and more efficient transactions on the Ethereum network.
And the best part? The proposal has officially been incorporated into Dencun, which is Ethereum’s upcoming upgrade. This is a clear sign that Ethereum is pushing forward with innovation and paving the way for a bright future. So get ready to be amazed as Ethereum continues to redefine what’s possible in the world of blockchain technology.
What is Dencun Upgrade?
After the Shapella upgrade in April, the next major hard fork of Ethereum is called Dencun. This name is a combination of “Deneb” and “Cancun”, symbolizing two simultaneous upgrades that will take place. The Deneb upgrade focuses on the Consensus Layer (CL) and is named after the brightest star in the Cygnus constellation. On the other hand, the Cancun upgrade is dedicated to the Execution Layer (EL) and takes inspiration from the city that hosted the Devcon 3 conference in 2017.
While the Cancun Upgrade has already been finalized, the exact scope of the Deneb Upgrade is currently being discussed by core developers. To ensure effective communication and decision-making, the Ethereum community holds two major conference series. The ACDE (All Core Developers Execution) conference focuses on code changes for the Ethereum Execution Layer, while the ACDC (All Core Developers Consensus) conference facilitates coordinated discussions on changes to the Ethereum Consensus Layer. These conferences occur every two weeks and serve as a way to showcase the decentralized decision-making process within the Ethereum community.
During the recent ACDE #163 conference call on June 8, the client team made significant progress. They finalized the scope of the upcoming Cancun Upgrade, which will include five code changes. In addition to EIP 4844, four other EIPs will be activated in Cancun: EIP 1153, EIP 4788, EIP 5656, and EIP 6780. If you’re curious about the status of proposed EIPs for inclusion in Cancun as of June 2023, here is the list:
To better understand the role of the “SELF-DESTRUCT” opcode, it is important to know that it is a command that allows Ethereum to cancel a smart contract. Previously, this command would not only destroy the contract but also erase all associated data. This created a significant barrier as it led to unnecessary expenses due to frequent changes in the structure of the entire blockchain.
Under EIP-6780, the support for this opcode is discontinued only in cases where the creation and destruction of the smart contract occur in separate transactions. In such cases, the data, specifically the storage keys, will not be deleted, and the funds will be transferred back to the original wallet address that initiated the operation.
However, in situations where contract creation and cancellation are done in the same transaction, the SELF-DESTRUCT opcode will function as before.
The impact of this change is significant. It helps the blockchain reduce the need for frequent data modifications in the network, establishing a foundation for future scalability expansion.
This proposal introduces something called transient storage opcodes. These opcodes allow for the manipulation of state in a similar way to regular storage. However, the key difference is that transient storage is discarded after every transaction.
So, what impact does this have? Well, EIP-1153 brings greater flexibility to data storage on Layer-1 of Ethereum. This flexibility, in turn, supports reductions in gas costs. Additionally, this proposal simplifies operations for programmers involved in building the Ethereum network. It streamlines their tasks and makes it easier for them to work within the Ethereum ecosystem.
Overall, EIP 1153 is a valuable addition to Ethereum, enhancing its capabilities and making it more efficient for developers and users alike.
EIP-4844 and EIP-6475
EIP 4844 is a simplified implementation of the complete version of Danksharding. Its purpose is to incorporate most of the logic and foundational elements, such as transaction formats and verification rules, needed for a full Danksharding specification.
Now, let’s discuss the impact of EIP 4844. Firstly, it will reduce the call-data cost that Layer-2 (L2) has to bear in each block on Layer-1 (L1). This reduction in cost will create a wider profit margin for Layer-2, making it more financially viable.
The second impact is related to network security. Layer-2 solutions, despite their lower cost, often face doubts from users regarding decentralization and security. Many existing Rollups, particularly Optimistic Rollups, lack a standardized Fault Proof model. Additionally, ZK-Rollups encounter challenges in optimizing the cost of generating ZK-Proof when the network has a limited number of transactions initially. By implementing EIP 4844, data storage costs will decrease, allowing Rollups to effectively integrate proof mechanisms and enhance network security.
The final impact, although not immediately noticeable to application layer users, is the improvement of the underlying infrastructure. This preparation sets the stage for significant future enhancements. Specifically, EIP 4844 promotes the gradual adoption of SSZ (Simple Serialize) as the mechanism used in the Beacon Chain, replacing the previous RLP (Recursive-Length Prefix) method. SSZ and RLP are data organization techniques that optimize network operations.
It’s important to note that EIP 6475 will complement EIP 4844. As EIP 4844 facilitates the transition to SSZ, EIP 6475 proposes adjustments related to this method. EIP 6475 will establish the SSZ platform, which will accommodate and support the “blob” transaction style introduced by EIP 4844.
In summary, EIP 4844 brings significant benefits to Ethereum, reducing costs, enhancing network security, and improving infrastructure. These advancements pave the way for a more efficient and robust ecosystem.
Impact of the Dencun Upgrade
The Dencun Upgrade marks an important milestone for Ethereum, following the Shapella Upgrade, and initiates “The Surge,” a new phase in Vitalik’s proposed Roadmap, succeeding “The Merge.” The primary objective of The Surge is to significantly enhance Ethereum’s performance and reduce transaction costs by implementing technologies like sharding and rollups.
At the heart of the Dencun Upgrade lies EIP 4844, also known as the “Rollup-Centric Sharding Scheme.” As mentioned above, It serves as a preliminary release of Danksharding, the ultimate sharding scheme for Ethereum. EIP 4844 paves the way for substantial scaling of Ethereum by modularizing and offloading transaction execution activities to other protocols. By not requiring permanent storage on the blockchain, it becomes a more cost-effective alternative to on-chain storage like CALLDATA used by rollups. This storage can be utilized by rollups (L2) to transmit transaction data or proofs back to the Ethereum mainnet (L1), resulting in reduced costs for rollups and significant benefits for rollup users and operators.
In addition to EIP 4844, the Dencun Upgrade incorporates EIP 1153 and EIP 6780, with potential inclusion of five other EIPs in future upgrades. These improvements primarily focus on reducing transaction costs (Gas), enhancing transaction communication security, and improving developer experience. These technical enhancements serve as a solid foundation for future deployments of computationally intensive operations and the introduction of new large-scale features like account abstraction in Ethereum.
When is Dencun Upgrade?
During a meeting on September 21, developers revealed that the launch of Ethereum’s upcoming major upgrade, Dencun, is likely to be delayed. While Dencun is mostly complete, it is still in the development phase and requires thorough testing. Tim Beiko, a member of the Ethereum Foundation, mentioned that Dencun needs to be deployed on a testnet before it can be launched on the Ethereum mainnet, where real transactions take place. This deployment timing could potentially push Dencun’s launch into the new year.
Beiko emphasized during the meeting that if a testnet is not implemented before Devcon (scheduled for November 13-18), it would be challenging to launch on the mainnet before the Christmas holidays. He acknowledged that the holiday season is not the ideal time for commitment due to people being away.
Previously, developers had not provided a specific date for Dencun’s release, but earlier estimates suggested that it would be live before the end of 2023.