The renowned Ethereum blockchain is constantly working on improvements and rolling out an ambitious set of upgrades that will redesign Ethereum into a fully scaled, optimized and resilient platform.
Until today, Ethereum has deployed numerous upgrades and you can review the full list in the Ethereum roadmap.
Shapella roll out
On April 12th, 2023, at epoch 194048 (22:27:35 UTC), the Ethereum developers plan to activate the Shapella network upgrade. The upgrade will impact both the execution layer (Shanghai) and the consensus layer (Capella).
Shapella is the most important Ethereum upgrade since last year’s Merge where the Ethereum network successfully transitioned from Proof-of-Work to the Proof-of-Stake mechanism.
The move from PoW to PoS significantly impacted withdrawals as Ethereum participants were no longer able to unstake their locked ETH. The upcoming Shapella upgrade is addressing this very same issue, enabling stakers to withdraw their staked Ether and the earned rewards from the Beacon Chain.
Counting down the minutes
The transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake required validators to lock in 32 ETH (about $52,500) to participate in staking activities. They were incentivized by the staking rewards and the opportunity to secure the Ethereum PoS network.
According to several reports, the Beacon Chain currently covers approx. 16 million ETH staked, which accounts for about $32 billion or almost 15% of the Ether’s circulating supply.
Once Shappela goes live, validators will first have access to partial withdrawals, where they will be able to withdraw earned rewards and still continue participating in network activities. Next will be full withdrawals, which will only be accessible via an exit. Validators will get the chance to withdraw the entire stake of 32 ETH, plus their earned rewards and enter an exit queue.
As stated in Withdrawal FAQ, users will face limitations in unstaking or exiting all at the same time. A queue will be implemented, and only a limited number of validators will be allowed to withdraw per day.
Ethereum Improvement Proposals
In addition to allowing validators to retrieve their staked ETH, the upgrade introduces new features to the execution and consensus layer, and incorporates a number of Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), including EIP-3651, EIP-3855, EIP-3860, EIP-4895, and EIP-6049. These EIPs define potential new features and processes for the Ethereum network.
Quick tips for Ethereum network participants
- Ethereum users or Ether holder don’t need to take any actions (unless you are informed to take additional steps by your exchange or wallet provider)
- Non-staking node operators need to update their node to the version of their Ethereum client listed in the table on Ethereum’s website in order to be compatible with the Mainnet upgrade.
Node operators who will not update their Ethereum client to the latest version will be stuck on an incompatible chain following the old rules and will be unable to send Ether or operate on the post-Shapella Ethereum network.
- Stakers need to update their node to the version of their Ethereum client listed in the table on Ethereum’s website in order to be compatible with the Mainnet upgrade. They need to update both the beacon node and validator client.
Stakers who will not update their Ethereum client to the latest version will be stuck on an incompatible chain following the old rules and will be unable to send Ether or operate on the post-Shapella Ethereum network.
- Application or tooling developers should review the upgrade changes to ensure any fixes are done, or to understand how to use newly introduced functionality.
What’s coming next?
The Ethereum developers are already focusing on their next steps, which will include the implementation of additional upgrades:
- Sharding: A concept aimed at increasing Ethereum's scalability through more efficient data storage. Sharding will split the blockchain into smaller pieces or "shards", creating multiple mini-blockchains. This allows for more space to process transactions and can lead to lower gas fees.
- Danksharding: The concept is similar to Sharding, but Danksharding aims to use shards to increase space for groups of data, allowing more data to be processed, lowering transaction costs for layer 2 companion chains.
- Verkle trees: These should provide a solution for developers to store large volumes of data, and make data proofs much more efficient for users.
- By purging the historical data from the Ethereum network, congestion on the network will decrease, allowing for more transactions to be processed. According to Buterin, after the Purge, Ethereum should be able to process around 100,000 transactions per second.
- Addressing censorship and maximal extractible value (MEV) concerns.
If you want to watch the Shapella upgrade go live, join EthStaker and Ethereum Cat Herders’ Shapella viewing party that starts just before the upgrade goes live.
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