The Surge (Ethereum)

What is The Surge (Ethereum)?

The Surge is the second phase of Ethereum’s developmental roadmap, where the blockchain is poised to scale using rollups. This phase follows the Merge, which marked Ethereum’s transition from a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake (PoS).

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Within The Surge, various network upgrades are planned, with Proto-Danksharding being a standout feature. It’s anticipated that this development phase will significantly enhance network throughput and curtail Ethereum’s gas fees.

According to Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, the main goal is to achieve a network throughput of “100,000 transactions per second and beyond on rollups.”

The Surge Explained: Rollup-Centric Roadmap

Blockchain technology, still in its nascent stages, is constantly evolving. The thought leaders of the industry are always seeking superior methods to scale public blockchain networks without compromising security and decentralization.

This context leads us to the trajectory of Ethereum’s development. Originally, the blueprint envisaged the blockchain’s scaling through sharding. The strategy aimed to bolster Ethereum’s capacity by segmenting the mainnet into 64 distinct shard chains.

Each shard was designed with a specific use case in mind and would have its own unique set of miner/validators. These multiple chains were projected to distribute the network load, leading to quicker transactions and reduced fees. But as rollup technology advanced, it captured the attention of the Ethereum community, emerging as a potentially more efficient method for scaling the blockchain.

Rollups help layer one (L1) blockchains, such as Ethereum, scale by processing transactions off-chain, thereby reducing the computational load on the L1.

Developers can build applications on top of rollup chains without adding undue strain to the Ethereum mainnet. In such as setup, Ethereum only serves as the settlement layer. Rollups submit their transactions to the Ethereum L1, which can be used to verify transactions, resolve disputes, and create Merkle proofs – essential for affirming ownership of assets and facilitating cryptocurrency withdrawals from the rollup

While the initial roadmap emphasized execution sharding, the current strategy pivots to data sharding. Now, The Surge is heralded as the next stage to help Ethereum achieve large-scale expansion through rollups.

How Does The Surge Work?

Proto-Danksharding (EIP-4844)

According to Buterin’s infographics, EIP-4844 or Proto-Danksharding is the first component of The Surge. Here is all you need to know about EIP-4844:

  • EIP-4844 aims to significantly reduce gas fees on rollups;
  • EIP-4844 is an Ethereum improvement proposal that will introduce temporary data blobs to Ethereum blocks, which will allow rollups to add cheaper data to the L1 blocks;
  • EIP-4844 is also known as proto-danksharding and named after Ethereum researchers who proposed the idea: Protolambda and Dankrad Feist;
  • The idea behind proto-danksharding is to introduce temporary data blocks to blocks that cannot be accessed by the EVM;
  • The volume of data computed by the EVM determines the gas fees paid by the end user;
  • The data on the blobs is automatically deleted after a fixed time period. This ensures that Ethereum nodes do not need extra hardware requirements to save the data accumulated over time.

Idea Behind Proto-Danksharding (EIP-4844)

Here is the thesis behind why it is OK to delete the data in the blobs.

According to Ethereum developers, a rollup is composed of two parts: data and execution check.

  • The data consists of the transactions processed by the rollup, which are submitted to Ethereum;
  • An execution check refers to the verification of the transactions by honest actors in the network.

The advocates of EIP-4844 argue 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.

EIP-4844 suggests purging transaction data after a fixed period ranging between one and three months, thereby alleviating the need for Ethereum nodes to retain extensive data. Leading Ethereum developers believe this approach will shift the onus of comprehensive data storage off-chain to third parties.

By utilizing temporary data blobs, Ethereum aims to facilitate a greater throughput of transactions. Additionally, this approach is expected to notably reduce gas fees for end users

Danksharding

Proto-Danksharding serves as the initial phase in Ethereum’s rollup scaling strategy, paving the way for the complete rollup scaling solution called Danksharding.

To put it simply, Danksharding can be thought of as Proto-Danksharding on steroids. The ongoing strategy aims to increase the number of temporary data blobs from a single one in Proto-Danksharding to 64 in Danksharding.

According to Ethereum.org,

“Danksharding will bring massive amounts of space on Ethereum for rollups to dump their compressed transaction data. This means Ethereum will be able to support hundreds of individual rollups with ease and make millions of transactions per second a reality.”

Yet, according to the company, Danksharding is still “several years away” from realization. For the Ethereum network to accommodate Danksharding, it must undergo multiple upgrades, including the introduction of proposer-builder separation and data availability sampling.

The Bottom Line

Just like the Merge, The Surge is anticipated to span over multiple years. Although the Merge neither diminished Ethereum’s gas fees nor enhanced its network throughput, The Surge promises tangible benefits for end users.

As of now, the timeline for EIP-4844 remains uncertain. Some media outlets speculate its implementation could materialize by the close of 2023.

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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.