Before integrating The Surge-related Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)-4884, Ethereum core developers prioritized enabling staking withdrawals via the Shanghai upgrade.
The next key milestone on Ethereum's roadmap is the Shanghai upgrade, which will facilitate ETH stakers/validators to withdraw from the Beacon Chain, among other things.
EIP-4884 is also significant and was originally expected to be included with Shanghai, introducing "proto-danksharding" to significantly improve Layer 2 rollup scalability ahead of the full integration of the major Sharding update late next year.
However, at the most recent meeting on December 8, according to Ethereum core developer Tim Beiko, the consensus was to focus on Shanghai first to prevent unnecessary delays if EIP-4844 was not ready on time.
Beiko wrote in a Twitter thread that everyone agreed on (1) seeing Shanghai happen quickly, ideally around March, and (2) pursuing this with a fork focused around EIP-4844.
While EIP-4844 will not be included, the developers have agreed to include a set of EIPs that effectively upgrade the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), including the introduction of a new EVM contract format, code/data separations, and unique operating codes.
Beiko noted that because these upgrades, known as EVM Object Format (EOF), are relatively simple to roll back and remove from Shanghai if developers haven't finished working on it by the time Shanghai is ready to execute, EOF will simply be eliminated, and shipped later.
Along with Shanghai, a set of previously agreed-upon EIPs will be rolled out, including EIP-3651: Warm Coinbase, EIP-3855: PUSH0 instruction, EIP-3860: Limit and meter initcode, and EIP-4895: Beacon chain push transactions as operations.
EIP-3651: Warm Coinbase, in particular, may have some cost-cutting benefits for the network. To avoid confusion with the name of a cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, in this context, refers to the software that developers use to receive new tokens on the network.
Every new transaction on the platform requires multiple interactions with the software; however, the initial transactions are more expensive because it requires time to warm up.
This will no longer be the case with the new EIP implementation, resulting in lower gas fees when builders interact with it.
According to the Ethereum Foundation, sharding is a multi-phase upgrade designed to significantly increase Ethereum's scalability and capacity through shard chains, giving the network significantly more capacity to store and access data.
With enhanced information storage capabilities, Layer 2 solutions will be able to offer much lower processing fees.
Following the completion of all of this, the network's next major event and the final part of the roadmap is the Sharding upgrade, which is scheduled to happen between 2023 and 2024.
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