The Ethereum Foundation has announced that its core developers are in the “final stages of planning” for the network’s next upgrade, dubbed Dencun. Although there is no timeline yet, the developers have tentatively included a set of Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) for the upgrade. The primary update in Dencun is expected to be EIP-4844, known as “Proto-Danksharding” or “The Surge”. This update will reduce the costs associated with Ethereum Layer 2 transactions to a great extent. By replacing the “calldata” stored on-chain alongside transactions with “blobs,” analysts expect the upgrade will improve Layer 2 throughput by orders of magnitude. L2s surpassed Ethereum mainnet in transaction volume in February. With 2 million daily transactions, L2 transactions peaked at nearly 4 million six weeks ago, while mainnet activity trended steady at roughly 1 million each day for the past six months. L2s currently represent a combined total value locked (TVL) of $9.3B, equal to one-fifth of the entire DeFi TVL, according to DeFi Llama.
EIP-1153 will be introduced in Dencun to improve the availability of blockspace and reduce the costs associated with storing data on-chain. EIP-6475, also called SSZ Optionals, is a companion to proto-danksharding and ensures transaction formats are forward-compatible future SSZ-upgrades developers plan to introduce in the future. Furthermore, EIP-6780 will deactivate the SELFDESTRUCT opcode, which is used to terminate a smart contract. Instead, client teams are currently considering different solutions for modifying the code as the function is not behaving as expected for certain use cases.
Dencun is a significant upgrade coming on the back of the recently launched Shapella upgrade. Once the upgrade is live, Ethereum will undergo three other major upgrades: the Verge, the Purge, and the Splurge. The Verge will introduce Verkle trees and stateless clients to make Ethereum more lightweight and bolster decentralization. The Purge will remove old history from the blockchain, meaning nodes won’t be required to store the entire history of the blockchain. The network will delete transaction data after it is 30 days old, with infrastructure providers like the Etherscan block explorer expected to continue compiling older historical data. Finally, the Splurge will introduce “all of the other fun stuff” bolstering the network’s efficiency and performance not included in other upgrades.
Ethereum’s co-founder and chief scientist, Vitalik Buterin, has predicted that Ethereum “will look more like a system that optimizes for safety and predictability.” The network will undergo extensive transformation as these upgrades are implemented. The Ethereum Foundation is confident that Ethereum will emerge with an ambitious roadmap to tackle the challenges it faces with renewed vigor, further expanding its reach and influence in the world of DeFi.