The next stop of Ethereum: "Shanghai" upgrading

By Sander Lutz, Decrypt

On Thursday, the Ethereum consensus mechanism transited from PoW workload proof to PoS equity proof, and the historic feat of "merger" that Crypto community has been waiting for for more than five years was finally successfully completed. Now, with the support of this great technical feat, the core developers of Ethereum network began to think about another question: What is the next step for Ethereum?

In fact, developers have set their sights on the next upgrade:Shanghai (Shanghai)。& nbsp;

Although the core developers of Ethereum will not hold group meetings or make collective decisions on the future of the network in the next two to three weeks, the short break will not last too long. Next month, they need to collectively determine what functions will be included in the next upgrade of Ethereum - Shanghai. It is important to know that today's digital assets worth tens of billions of dollars are deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, so the first upgrade after the merger is particularly critical.

Micah Zoltu, core developer of Ethereum, said that,The community has many ideas about upgrading "Shanghai", but no consensus has been reached yet. At present, one of the most urgent new functions is to allow Ethereum verifiers to withdraw pledged ETH.

The biggest change brought by the merger to the Ethereum blockchain is to turn the network consensus mechanism into "proof of equity", that is, all transactions on the network will no longer be verified by energy intensive "miners", whileIt is verified by the individual and organization "verifier" who has deposited or pledged a large amount of ETH。 For the verifiers, their pledged ETH can generate and collect new ETHs. These so-called "new ETHs" are their rewards for proving transactions and protecting the network.

However, so far, the pledge mechanism of Ethereum can only be deposited in ETH, and cannot be withdrawn from ETH. According to the official network data of Ethereum, the number of network verifiers has reached 427326, and the total number of pledges has reached 14451487 ETHs. According to the current ETH price, the total value of pledges is close to 22 billion dollars, but all these ETHs are now "trapped" on the Ethereum network, except that non developers add the withdrawal function.

It is understandable that in the upgrade of Shanghai, almost all core developers will give priority to the withdrawal function of pledged ETH, otherwise the appeal of pledged ETH will be greatly reduced, because people find that their pledged ETH can not be taken out, which will certainly weaken the pledge power of the "verifier", and then there will not be so many people entering the Ethereum network, which will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the future development and network security of Ethereum.

Marius Van Der Wijden, the core developer of Ethereum, said frankly that the core developer may agree to solve the pledge ETH withdrawal problem in the next "Shanghai" upgrade,"This is almost a certainty"。 However, it is unclear what other content will be included in the "Shanghai" upgrade.

What is the next step for Ethereum after pledge?

Micah Zoltu believes that the biggest problem with the "Shanghai" upgrade is that "everyone has a different list". Everyone feels that their proposal is "the most urgent", but these ideas are very subjective and have not reached an agreement.

However, in addition to the function of withdrawing funds from the pledged ETH, there may be other potential updates in the upgrade of Ethereum "Shanghai", such as:

1、Ethereum virtual machine (EVM) update。 EVM is the underlying mechanism of Ethereum for developers, which defines the management rules for how blocks on the network interact. In the past two years or more, Ethereum has not made any updates to EVM, partly because it is worried that the updates will cause problems for the merger. As Marius Van Der Wijden said, updating EVM before merging will increase the test complexity by 10 times and make the upgrade more difficult.

2、Proto danksharing update。 The Proto danksharing upgrade has actually been rumored for a long time, and has also aroused great interest in the Ethereum community, and is related to Rollups scalability technology. Rollups is an Ethereum network expansion tool, which gathers transaction sets into a unit, and then submits the unit to the Ethereum blockchain as an independent transaction, thus solving the problem of slow processing of transactions on the Ethereum main network and high gas costs.

Proto danksharding can be seen as the preliminary version of danksharding. In the process of proto danksharding, it is only necessary to sample the small block data to verify a large amount of data on Rollups. In essence, this update should greatly improve the speed and convenience of verifying a large amount of data on Ethernet Layer 2 networks such as Optimism and Arbitrum.

Van Der Wijden added that Proto danksharing can reduce the gas cost on Rollup chain, and also make Rollup easier to expand on a large scale. At the same time, the transaction cost will be greatly reduced. However, although danksharding is very attractive to Layer 2 users, and the upgrade can reduce gas costs and transaction time, the development needs a lot of energy and time.

The more function sets included in the Ethereum "Shanghai" upgrade, the more complex the upgrade will be. More importantly, the upgrade will be delayed

Marius Van Der Wijden, core developer of Ethereum, explained: "Some people only study the surface, and they even think that not all functions in the 'Shanghai' upgrade must be implemented and tested, but the problem is that if there are 10 changes in the 'Shanghai' upgrade, then each change needs to be tested separately, and how different changes interact with each other needs to be tested, which means that once the number of functions included in the 'Shanghai' upgrade increases, the testing workload will be Exponential growth. "

Up to now, Ethereum developers have not estimated how long it will take to implement the "Shanghai" upgrade, but Van Der Wijden believes that the "Shanghai" upgrade should be carried out in 2023. However, if Ethereum users and developers focus on other updates, such as danksharding, the "Shanghai" upgrade date will be delayed.

Don't forget that there are still more than 20 billion dollars worth of pledged ETH "trapped" in the Ethereum PoS chain.