What is the Ethereum roadmap?
The Ethereum roadmap is a multi-step plan to improve the protocol. Despite the absence of a strict time frame and a clear sequence for implementing updates, the community accepted the proposal of the founder of the second largest cryptocurrency by capitalization, Vitalik Buterin, published in November 2022.
Updated roadmap diagram! pic.twitter.com/MT9BKgYcJH
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) November 4, 2022
The development plan is a timeline of six different blocks, named by the co-founder of the ecosystem: The Merge, The Surge, The Scourge, The Verge, The Purge and The Splurge.
The plan is not a clear sequence of updates, he said. Thus, innovations in different parts of the map are implemented in parallel, simultaneously covering goals from different blocks.
In a simplified version, the main directions for sustainable development of Ethereum include L2 scaling, strengthening wallet security and data privacy. This is exactly the vector of development that Buterin proposed in June 2023.
What does The Merge update?
The most famous block in the Ethereum roadmap, which involves the abandonment of mining based on the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) algorithm, is The Merge. As of September 2023, the ETH community has celebrated one year since the transition to PoS. You can read more about its results here.
The goal of The Merge is to achieve a perfect, simple, reliable and decentralized PoS consensus.
The transition of Ethereum to PoS in September 2022 itself did not mark the final stage of this block. In April 2023, the Shapella hard fork was successfully carried out on the network, which opened up the possibility of withdrawing ETH from staking. The update also reduced gas costs for certain types of transactions. Blockchain data storage has been optimized, EVM-related improvements and new cryptographic primitives have been introduced.
What does The Surge include?
This block is responsible for scaling the Ethereum blockchain through the development of roll-up technology, better known as L2 solutions. The list of projects representing it on ETH includes StarkNet, zkSync, Loopring, Arbitrum and Optimism.
The Surge’s goal is to reach 100,000 TPS (transactions per second) and higher using rollups.
The key element of the block is a proposal to improve EIP-4844, known as Proto-Danksharding. The update will introduce a new type of transaction for large amounts of binary data (blobs), organizing their storage. This will reduce the amount of commissions for L2 solutions based on rollup technology.
At the beginning of September, ETH developers approved the details of the future hard fork of the network called Dencun, within which they will implement EIP-4844 and a number of other innovations.
What does The Scourge mean?
The Scourge update section is dedicated to the fight against Maximal Extractable Value (MEV). This is a mechanism that allows validators to include, exclude, and reorder transactions in a future Ethereum block. striking damage to the entire ecosystem, MEV has been called an “invisible tax” on network usage.
In addition to the complex speculative strategies to which this mechanism opened the way, the issue of censoring transactions arose on the network. For example, in October 2022, the share of such transactions in accordance with the requirements of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control exceeded 50%.
The goal of The Scourge is to create a reliable, neutral mechanism for including transactions in a block, avoiding centralization and other risks associated with MEV.
The main update here will be the PBS (proposer-builder separation) solution, which will limit the rights of validators during the block formation process and create a new class of participants that form the order of transactions.
What is The Verge for?
At this stage, it is planned to remove barriers to storing and researching the entire state of the blockchain. According to Etherscan, a full Ethereum node weighs more than 1.2 TB, while a full archive node weighs more than 15 GB, and syncing new nodes can take several days.
Processing and researching such data sets requires significant resources, which may become a problem with wider adoption of Ethereum technology.
The Verge’s goal is to make block verification very easy and fast.
Buterin proposed facilitating access to the full state of Ethereum through updating the Merkle tree structure, as well as through the implementation of zkSNARK and zkSTARK zero-knowledge technologies. This implementation will allow increasing gas limits, which will facilitate the scaling of L2 solutions, and will also open up access to new types of light clients.
What problems will The Purge solve?
If The Verge is working on checking the history of the Ethereum blockchain, then The Purge intends to update the methods of storing and recording historical data.
The main improvement proposal here is EIP-4444, which aims to create conditional checkpoints for synchronization. For example, developers can choose a block depth of 300 days without resorting to downloading the entire blockchain down to the genesis block.
The goal of The Purge is to simplify the protocol by clearing Ethereum’s history.
Active discussion of these issues began in 2021. Buterin and other members of the Ethereum community suggested that in the future, full access to the ETH network will only be possible through special, expensive equipment. This will lead to centralization of the network and additional technical difficulties for working with the core.
What’s included in The Splurge?
The Splurge development and plans block is a collective for everything that is not included in other sections. The most famous stage of this block was the EIP-1559 token burn mechanism, implemented in August 2021.
The goal of The Splurge is to correct and implement what was not included in other blocks.
ETH developers have completed a plan to implement account abstraction technology (AAT), represented by the new ERC-4337 token standard, allowing the creation of varieties of crypto wallets based on smart contracts.
In addition to AMS, The Splurge allocated a separate place to improving the efficiency of EVM. It is also planned to refine and improve the combustion mechanism of EIP-1559.
What updates are expected before the end of 2023?
At the moment, the Ethereum community has reached consensus on the upcoming Dencun hard fork, expected at the end of the year.
The update will include elements from almost all blocks of the roadmap, including scalability, data storage, removal of old features, EVM modification, infrastructure security improvements.
Additional innovations this year will be the closure of the largest ETH test network Goerli at the end of 2023. To replace it, it is planned to launch the Holesky testnet, designed to test staking solutions, evaluate infrastructure and protocols.
The only public estimate of the completion of all planned updates came from Buterin: it was 55% as of July 2022.
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