Ethereum leans into rollup-centric future as Dencun hard fork looms

The upcoming Dencun hard fork on the Ethereum blockchain is expected to bring significant cost reductions for layer-2 protocols, benefiting the scaling of the network. However, end-users may not immediately see the full impact of these improvements.

According to Polygon Labs VP of Product David Silverman, it will take a few weeks for rollup protocols to fully implement the nine different EIPs included in the Dencun hard fork:

The name of the upgrade, a combination of the Cancun and Deneb upgrades, reflects the incorporation of changes to both the execution and consensus layers of Ethereum.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rollup protocols on Ethereum will see reduced costs with the upcoming Dencun hard fork.
  • End-users may not experience the full benefits immediately.
  • The hard fork includes nine EIPs and combines the Cancun and Deneb upgrades.

What is the purpose of EIP-4844?

EIP-4844, a key aspect of the upcoming hard fork, aims to change the way Ethereum rollups store data on the mainnet. Rollups are layer-2 solutions that process transactions off-chain and submit a summary proof to the Ethereum blockchain.

According to Silverman, the current Ethereum storage system only has one type – call data storage on the execution layer. This means that any data, whether it’s for an NFT image or a rollup transaction, must be stored permanently by all Ethereum nodes.

EIP-4844 introduces the concept of “blob space” which allows rollups to add data to blocks at a lower cost. This is because the data is not processed by the Ethereum Virtual Machine and is automatically deleted after a set period of time (around 18 days). Silverman explains:

He goes on to say that this temporary storage method is much more affordable for rollups while still maintaining the same level of security.

Rollup benefits won’t be immediate

The concept of proto-danksharding has been a hot topic in the world of Ethereum, especially when it comes to the impact it will have on the cost of rollup data storage in the future. Many developers of layer-2 solutions have claimed that rollup costs could potentially decrease by up to 50 times, but according to Silverman, the true effects of this will only be seen once Dencun is implemented on the mainnet.

Vice President of Product at Polygon Labs, Silverman, notes that the impact of Dencun will not be felt immediately. The hard fork is scheduled for March 13, and after that, rollups will need to update their systems before they can take advantage of the new storage space:

Silverman explains that Polygon has been working diligently to expedite their own implementation of EIP-4844. Additionally, discussions with counterparts at Optimism, zkSync, and Arbitrum have revealed that other layer-2 solutions are eager to utilize the hard fork as soon as possible.

Ethereum Embraces Rollup-Centric Future

Ethereum’s focus on layer-2 scaling solutions, such as Dencun, marks a significant shift in its approach. According to Silverman, the platform is aiming to “solidify and slow down” its core components, while leaving room for innovation and user-focused development on layer 2.

This roadmap for Ethereum signals a move away from relying on the base chain for scaling, with rollups taking center stage as the future of the platform. Silverman explains, “We’re making changes to make rollups more cost-effective and appealing to users, establishing them as the standard for Ethereum.”

The major players in the rollup space have even joined forces through the formation of Roll Call, a platform for discussion and collaboration on improvement proposals.

Silverman emphasizes that these changes will only apply to layer 2 solutions, not the mainnet Ethereum. This includes updates to the EVM, such as new forms of account abstraction, pre-compiles, and opcodes.

While Dencun may not immediately impact rollup costs, Silverman expects a lot of excitement when the hard fork is completed. He adds, “As EIP-4844 is gradually implemented by rollups, the ecosystem will begin to see the true potential of proto-danksharding. As more layer 2 solutions join the space, the impact of cost reduction will also increase.”

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