Ethereum’s upcoming forks spark debates among developers

Ethereum is stirring debates within its developer community as it approaches its next major upgrade, Prague-Electra (Pralectra), following the anticipated Dencun fork scheduled for late 2024 or 2025. This development, marked by a confirmed timeline at the recent All Core Devs call, is set to commence with the Goerli testnet on January 17.

The controversy centers on whether to focus on smaller, incremental Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) or to embark on a significant protocol upgrade with the integration of Verkle Trees into the execution layer.

Verkle Trees represent a significant advancement over the current Merkle Trees. It uses complex mathematical techniques based on elliptic curve pairings. This new structure offers reduced space and faster verification, enhancing the network’s transaction handling capacity. It’s a strategic move to address the challenge of “state bloat,” a critical concern as Ethereum scales.

The integration of Verkle Trees is a part of Ethereum’s long-term strategy. However, opinions among developers vary. Guillaume Ballet from the Ethereum Foundation cautions about the complexities of small forks, while others stress the urgency of network upgrades in 2024.

The complexity of implementing Verkle Trees is comparable to the Merge, with a potential development timeframe of 18 months or more. Dencun itself experienced delays, initially planned for November but postponed to 2024.

Lukasz Rozmej from the Nethermind execution client team recommends prioritizing a feature-rich fork before focusing on Verkle Trees.

“My experience tells me that state redesigns are extremely hard and they take an extremely long time,” Rozmej said. “Verkle toughness is not the specification, it is the implementation, optimization and testing.”

EOF speculated as next upgrade

A topic of particular interest is the EVM Object Format (EOF). It is suggested as a candidate for the next upgrade. EOF, initially considered for the Shapella hard fork, is seen as a significant but more isolated change.

Justin Florentine from the Besu client team notes their progress on EOF, advocating for its inclusion in Pralectra. Ansgar Dietrichs from the Ethereum Foundation and others support also EOF’s inclusion in the upcoming upgrade.

Leave a comment

My Newsletter

Sign Up For Updates & Newsletters