The merge finally transpired after years of waiting. Ethereum’s historic switch to proof of stake occurred early on Thursday morning without a hitch.
The Ethereum merge dominated the attention and energy of the network’s elite cadre of core engineers for almost half a decade, with tens of billions of dollars’ worth of digital assets on the line and no room for error.
Ethereum’s core developers won’t meet in groups or make decisions regarding the network’s future for the next two to three weeks. This break from rapid-fire decision-making, though, won’t last long.
The network’s core developers will have to decide together within the next month whatever features they intend to incorporate in Ethereum’s upcoming update, Shanghai. Within the group, opinions are divided. Again, the decision will have far-reaching financial effects. Ethereum core developer Micah Zoltu told local media,
“Lots of people have lots of things they want to go in [Shanghai], but there isn’t yet consensus on what will actually make it.”
The ability for Ethereum validators to withdraw staked ETH is perhaps the most urgent feature under consideration for the Shanghai upgrade.
The recent merging has changed Ethereum to a proof-of-stake system; as of right now, no longer will energy-intensive “miners” confirm transactions on the Ethereum network, but rather users and organisations who have staked significant amounts of ETH. These organisations will be able to create and accumulate fresh ETH through staking as compensation for demonstrating the processing capacity required to validate transactions and protect the network.
However, ETH can currently only be placed into it’s staking system. It cannot be taken back. Until ETH’s developers introduce a withdrawal feature, the nearly $21 billion in ETH already staked on the network will remain there.
It seems sense that practically every core developer has withdrawal capability at the top of their list of priorities for the Shanghai upgrade.
Next in line for Ethereum
Updates to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), the developer-focused mechanism at the foundation of the world’s second largest cryptocurrency that establishes the norms dictating how blocks interact on the network, are the second most probable set of improvements to be included in Shanghai. The EVM hasn’t been updated in more than two years, in part because developers would have had a terrible time integrating such enhancements into the merge.
Proto-danksharding, which has to do with the rollups of scaling technology, is another long-rumored ETH feature that has attracted a good amount of interest.
By condensing groups of transactions into a single transaction and presenting it to the ETH blockchain as a single transaction, rollups are solutions that solve the Ethereum mainnet’s sluggish pace and high gas prices.
Proto-danksharding would be the early iteration of danksharding, a method for verifying vast amounts of data on rollups using only a small sample of the total data. Essentially, the change would greatly speed up and simplify the verification of enormous volumes of data on Ethereum layer-2 networks like Optimism and Arbitrum.
Although layer-2 customers find the idea of danksharding to be quite appealing because the upgrade would probably reduce transaction times and gas costs, it would also have a price.
The upgrade will be more difficult and, most crucially, postponed the more complicated the set of features incorporated in Shanghai.
How long it will take to implement Shanghai cannot yet be predicted. However, Van Der Wijden is certain that the improvement will take place in the upcoming year.
However, that deadline likely be postponed as more Ethereum users and developers focus on more ambitious and urgent network enhancements, such as proto-danksharding.