Proto-Danksharding

What is Proto-Danksharding?

Proto-danksharding is an Ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) that will introduce temporary storage space that layer two (L2) rollups can use to produce higher transactional throughput.

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With proto-danksharding, Ethereum enters the second phase in its rollup-centric roadmap called “The Surge.” In this phase, Ethereum looks to prioritize scalability i.e. higher transaction volume at lower gas fees.

How is proto-danksharding different from danksharding? Let’s find out.

Proto-Danksharding Explained: EIP-4844

Proto-danksharding, or EIP-4844, was proposed to the Ethereum community in February 2022. It is designed to help Ethereum scale via rollups.

How is it done? Proto-danksharding will introduce temporary “data blobs” to Ethereum blocks. Rollups can use this data blob to process and store extra data, resulting in more transactions processed.

Furthermore, the data stored in these blobs will not be accessible by the EVM, which means gas fees incurred will decrease since the EVM does not process the data in the blobs.

The data blobs will be automatically deleted after a fixed time period of one to three months. This will allow Ethereum nodes to stay slim by reducing the need to invest in additional hardware to store data as the Ethereum network grows.

Is It OK to Delete Blob Data?

To fully learn the definition of proto-danksharding, it is crucial to understand the rationale behind the temporary data blobs. Here is the thesis behind why it is OK to delete the blob data after a period of time. 

According to Ethereum developers, a rollup is composed of two parts:

  • Data
  • Execution check

The data consists of the transactions processed by the rollup, which are submitted to the Ethereum L1. Meanwhile, an execution check refers to the re-execution of the transactions by honest actors to check their validity.

EIP-4844 argues that there’s no necessity for transaction data to be perpetually accessible. 

Instead, it should only remain available for a sufficient duration, enabling anyone to check and validate the transactions recorded on Ethereum.

According to the official Ethereum blog post:

“Consensus client attestations demonstrate that there was a sufficient opportunity for provers to verify the data. The actual data can be stored off-chain by rollup operators, users or others.”

Leading Ethereum developers, including co-founder Vitalik Buterin, believe this approach will reduce the burden on the Ethereum network and instead shift the onus to third parties to store the entire history of transactions.

How is Blob Data Verified in Proto-Danksharding?

Ethereum rollups process transactions off-chain and post-execution data in the temporary data blobs. They also post a “commitment” to the data.

A commitment is a cryptographic way to allow verification of data that has been submitted. Imagine a scenario:

  • You place a book inside a box before shipping it to your friend.
  • Once you have placed the book inside the box, you cannot open it and change its contents.
  • Therefore you are submitting your commitment.
  • Anyone with the key to the box can verify whether you have been honest in your commitment or not.

Ok, now that we have got that out of the way. A rollup submits a commitment by fitting a polynomial function to the blob data, which can be evaluated by a “prover” at various points. 

For example, a polynomial function f(x)=2x-1 can be evaluated for x=1, x=2, and x=3, which will give results 1, 3, and 5, respectively. 

A prover will use the same function and evaluate it at the same points to verify the commitment. If the original data has been tampered with, then the function and the results will not be the same. 

It must be noted that cryptographic commitments are more complicated than the simplified example mentioned above. 

Proto-danksharding is set to use KZG polynomial commitments to verify the blob data. 

“The commitment evaluates the polynomial at some secret data points. A prover would fit the same polynomial over the data and evaluate it at the same values, checking that the result is the same.” 

The Difference Between Proto-Danksharding, Danksharding, and Sharding

Now that we know what proto-danksharding means, it is important to know the differences between proto-danksharding, danksharding, and sharding.

Proto-Danksharding vs. Danksharding

If The Surge were a building under construction, then proto-danksharding would be the foundation of the structure.

Danksharding would be the complete design of the structure.

Meanwhile, sharding would be the original design that has now been discarded and replaced by danksharding.

The ultimate goal of Ethereum during The Surge is to achieve full danksharding. However, danksharding is still “several years away” as multiple network upgrades – including proposer-builder separation – need to be implemented first.

Proto-danksharding is, therefore, a stepping stone in Ethereum’s quest to achieve mass scalability. According to Ethereum developers, the number of data blobs will increase from one per block in proto-danksharding to 64 in full danksharding.

Proto-Danksharding vs. Sharding

Sharding was the original Ethereum scaling plan which aimed to split the Ethereum chain into 64 shard chains. Each shard chain would have its own set of validators and would process and execute transactions independently. 

The sharding roadmap was discarded once rollup technology proved itself to be a more decentralized and less complicated way to scale Ethereum. Proto-danksharding and danksharding were introduced as a means to complement Ethereum’s rollup-centric roadmap.

However, as rollups emerged as the go-to way to scale Ethereum, the sharding roadmap was abandoned. The introduction of rollups reduced the need for shard chains as transactions were processed directly on the rollup chain.

Moreover, rollups were less complicated, more decentralized, and offered better security than shard chains.

“Neither Danksharding nor Proto-Danksharding follow the traditional “sharding” model that aimed to split the blockchain into multiple parts. Shard chains are no longer part of the roadmap. Instead, Danksharding uses distributed data sampling across blobs to scale Ethereum. This is much simpler to implement. This model has sometimes been referred to as “data-sharding”.” 

The Bottom Line

The Ethereum community is eagerly waiting for proto-danksharding to be implemented.

Unlike the last major upgrade called The Merge – where Ethereum moved from proof-of-work(PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, the Surge is expected to result in improvements that daily Ethereum users will experience in the form of lower gas fees.

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Mensholong Lepcha
Crypto & Blockchain Writer

Mensholong is an experienced crypto and blockchain journalist, now a full-time writer at Techopedia. He has previously contributed news coverage and in-depth market analysis to Capital.com, StockTwits, XBO, and other publications. He started his writing career at Reuters in 2017, covering global equity markets. In his free time, Mensholong loves watching football, finding new music, and buying BTC and ETH for his crypto portfolio.