In the world of blockchain technology, the name Ethereum has consistently stood out as a pioneer. Ethereum’s creator, Vitalik Buterin, recently unveiled an exciting development slated for the beginning of 2024. This upgrade, known as Proto-Dank Sharding (EIP-4844), is poised to usher in a new era of scalability for Ethereum. It promises to revolutionize the network by replacing call data with data blobs, a change that will significantly enhance the network’s efficiency. One key aspect that this upgrade targets is transaction data, which has been a major roadblock in the path to scaling rollups.
A Paradigm Shift: Proto-Dank Sharding
Proto-Dank Sharding is expected to be a game-changer, with the potential to increase Ethereum’s scalability tenfold. The development efforts behind EIP-4844 are proceeding at a rapid pace, underlining its critical importance. This upgrade is a pivotal step toward achieving full sharding of the Ethereum blockchain, setting the stage for a more robust and scalable network.
The Evolution of Ethereum 2.0: A Blockchain Revolution
Before delving into the enhancements that Ethereum 2.0 promises, it’s essential to understand its essence. Formerly known as ETH2, Ethereum 2.0 represents a series of upgrades designed to enhance scalability, efficiency, and speed. Its overarching goal is to reduce transaction fees, bolster the stability of smart contracts, and facilitate a higher volume of transactions. When all these upgrades are in place, Ethereum is poised to become a transparent, open, and high-performance network for DeFi applications.
Ethereum 2.0 will achieve this transformation through extensive sharding, which will lower gas costs and increase network bandwidth. This will make it more cost-effective for cryptocurrency holders to utilize smart contracts and send digital currencies. Additionally, these upgrades will introduce significant economic changes to the blockchain, allowing support for staking nodes and offering the opportunity to earn Ethereum as passive income.
Ethereum 2.0’s transformation unfolds in three key stages:
Phase 0: The Beacon Chain
The Beacon Chain was completed in 2020 and introduced Proof-of-Stake (PoS) to the blockchain. It serves as a consensus layer, coordinating the network’s operations. One of its primary roles is to generate the randomness necessary to confirm new blocks.
Phase 1: The Merge
Completed in 2022, the Merge enabled the ecosystem to transition from the Beacon Chain to the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, significantly reducing energy consumption. This transition improved the network’s sustainability, as it no longer relies on energy-intensive mining methods. Ethereum now stands as one of the most energy-efficient blockchains, using 99.9% less energy compared to its previous algorithm.
Phase 2: Sharding
The ongoing Phase 2 upgrade aims to horizontally split the database and work with layer 2 rollups. This approach will make handling large volumes of data more efficient by implementing rollups across the entire blockchain.
Ethereum 2.0: Tracking Progress
Since the launch of the Beacon Chain, several important upgrades have been completed, including Berlin, London, Altair, and Shanghai. The Shanghai upgrade, which recently concluded, allowed stakers to withdraw their rewards. The next major upgrade on the Ethereum roadmap is Cancun, which will focus on Proto-Dank Sharding. This upgrade is expected to further reduce transaction times, improve efficiency, and enhance scalability.
The Significance of the Shapella Upgrade
In April 2023, Ethereum successfully completed the Shapella upgrade, also known as Shanghai. The name Shapella is a combination of “Shanghai,” representing the execution layer, and “Capella,” signifying the consensus layer. This upgrade played a pivotal role in the Ethereum 2.0 transition, enabling stakers to access their rewards from the Beacon Chain. Notably, it heightened the security of the new consensus protocol and bolstered the overall reliability of the ecosystem.
The positive impact of the Shapella upgrade was evident within days of its completion, as the price of ETH began to rise.
A Stable Future for Ethereum 2.0
Vitalik Buterin is optimistic about the recent upgrades, but he acknowledges that the network is still undergoing significant changes. He envisions enhanced stability once all upgrades are in place and the scalability roadmap is fully realized. The upgrades associated with Ethereum 2.0 address the most challenging aspects of transitioning to the new consensus, ultimately ensuring scalability.
At present, the network processes between 16 and 25 transactions per second (tps) in roughly six minutes, often leading to blockchain congestion and high gas fees. These upgrades are set to increase the tps to 100,000, resulting in lower gas fees and a more efficient network. As Ethereum 2.0 matures, it will become more predictable and secure, marking a significant step in the blockchain’s evolution.