Understanding & Navigating The Upcoming Ethereum’s Dencun Upgrade

CoinEx
5 min readFeb 8, 2024

Since the release of its whitepaper in 2013, Ethereum has now celebrated nine years of existence. Over this lengthy and illustrious period, Ethereum has successfully navigated through 11 major upgrades, each injecting new narratives and opportunities into its ecosystem. In the current Serenity phase (Ethereum 2.0), founder Vitalik Buterin has outlined a six-stage upgrade roadmap, focusing on scalability, enhanced security, consensus mechanisms, and economic model optimization. According to Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum roadmap, the Dencun upgrade is part of “The Surge.”

The Surge

The Surge phase primarily aims to address the persistent scalability issue, with the goal of ultimately achieving a performance level of 100,000 transactions per second (TPS) for Ethereum, approaching the speed of traditional electronic payments. This upgrade is achieved through Danksharding (“DS”), also known as sharding, and is the focal point of this article, highlighting the upcoming Dencun upgrade planned for this year.

What is the Dencun Upgrade?

The Dencun upgrade is a significant Ethereum improvement designed to increase data storage and reduce costs. The Dencun upgrade includes five Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), with EIP-4844 garnering particular attention. EIP-4844 aims to address Ethereum’s scalability issues, helping to reduce transaction costs for Ethereum Layer2 solutions, directly benefiting the broader L2 ecosystem. In addition to the core EIP-4844, other improvement proposals include EIP-1153, EIP-4788, EIP-5656, and EIP-6780.

On January 17th and 30th, Ethereum began testing the Dencun upgrade on the Goerli and Sepolia test networks. The current testnet is running smoothly, with a normal submission of Blob quantities. Subsequent tests on the Holesky testnet are scheduled for February 7th, and the mainnet implementation date is yet to be announced.

EIP-4844 (Proto-Danksharding):

Currently, all Layer 2 transaction data on Ethereum is stored in Layer 1’s Calldata. However, Calldata space is limited, unable to meet the growing storage demands, leading to high data usage costs and increasing the computational burden on Ethereum nodes. The Dencun upgrade introduces Blob, a new data storage structure in EIP-4844, specifically designed to store transaction data submitted from Layer 2 to Layer 1. Blob is stored on the consensus layer, separate from Calldata, making it inaccessible to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Blob’s role is to fulfill the demand-side access verification of stored data within a certain time frame (approximately one month) without requiring Layer 1 to execute it fully, significantly reducing node workload.

Source: https://hackmd.io/@luozhu/SyleCcpti

Currently, a Blob’s size is fixed at 128KB, meaning a single Rollup can only purchase an entire Blob, not individual parts of the data. Overall, attaching six complete Blobs to a block increases block size by around 40%. Given that the current block size is approximately 1.875MB, a complete Blob set might add about 0.75MB. This increase occurs over an 18-day rolling period, ensuring no long-term storage capacity increase for network nodes.

New Precompile Point Evaluation Precompile:

Additionally, EIP-4844 introduces a new precompile called Point Evaluation Precompile, facilitating the verification of Blob-related data for Optimistic Rollup and ZK Rollup solutions. In Optimistic Rollup, Point Evaluation Precompile is primarily used to verify underlying data provided during fraud proof submission. In ZK Rollup, it is used to verify two critical commitments: Blob commitment and ZK Rollup’s own commitment. By leveraging Point Evaluation Precompile, ZK Rollups can effectively prove that these commitments point to the same data, ensuring data consistency and providing reliability and security for the entire ZK Rollup system.

EIP-1153 (Instant Storage Operations):

Currently, all data storage on Ethereum follows a permanent storage model, including the storage of temporary data, resulting in wastefulness and high gas fees. EIP-1153 aims to introduce a new mechanism for handling temporary or instant storage during smart contract execution. The introduction of instant storage operations allows smart contracts to read and call temporary storage data during a complete transaction execution cycle and clears temporary data after the transaction execution cycle ends.

EIP-4788 (Beacon Block Root Submission):

The current independence between the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and the Beacon Chain (Ethereum’s consensus layer) poses some challenges. EVM cannot directly access the Beacon Chain and relies on external trusted oracles to obtain data and status from the Beacon Chain. EIP-4788 places a Beacon Chain block root on each execution block header, enabling EVM to directly access Ethereum’s consensus layer’s status and data. This introduces a protocol-level oracle, enhancing operational efficiency, accuracy, and eliminating the risks associated with external oracles.

EIP-5656 (MCOPY Opcode):

EIP-5656 introduces the MCOPY opcode to optimize the process of copying data in memory during the execution of smart contracts. Memory copying refers to the process of moving data from one location in memory to another, which is a fundamental operation in computing used for constructing data structures and copying objects. The adoption of the MCOPY opcode will reduce the gas fees associated with related operations while simultaneously enhancing the performance of contract execution.

EIP-6780 (Limiting SELFDESTRUCT):

The existing SELFDESTRUCT opcode, as the name suggests, allows developers to completely remove smart contracts from the blockchain. Upon execution, it removes the contract’s code and storage from Ethereum, sending the remaining ETH in the contract to a specified address. This operation involves significant changes to the account’s state, as it includes removing the deployed contract code and storage data from the chain.

EIP-6780 aims to restrict the usage of the SELFDESTRUCT opcode. It will only take effect when creating a smart contract and executing the SELFDESTRUCT opcode within the same transaction. In other cases, there will be no deletion of code or storage.

Summary

As a pioneer in blockchain technology, Ethereum has consistently advanced its technical capabilities through updates and upgrades to meet the growing demands of businesses and user expectations. The Dencun upgrade represents a significant step for Ethereum in its roadmap for scalability and performance improvements.

With the implementation of the Dencun upgrade, Ethereum has made substantial progress in terms of security, scalability, and sustainability, laying a solid foundation for broader applications in the future of blockchain.

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