Ethereum Developers Tease Shadow Mainnet Hard Fork Ahead of Dencun Upgrade

In a recent Ethereum All Core Developers Execution (ACDE) call, Ethereum developers discussed an array of topics, including progress on the Cancun/Deneb (Dencun) upgrade and the development of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) Object Format (EOF). During the meeting, an intriguing revelation emerged: the possibility of a mainnet shadow hard fork to further test the Dencun upgrade.

The ACDE Call #172, chaired by Tim Beiko from the Ethereum Foundation’s Protocol Support, took place via Zoom on October 12. This bi-weekly gathering serves as a vital platform for Ethereum developers to discuss and coordinate changes to the Ethereum execution layer (EL).

Barnabas Busa, a DevOps Engineer with the Ethereum Foundation, provided updates on the progress of Devnet #9, which launched on September 29. Devnet #9 achieved a commendable 93% participation rate among validators. However, issues were reported with Geth (EL)/Teku (CL) validator nodes, Erigon (EL)/Prysm (CL) client combination, and EthereumJS (EL) client. Additionally, questions loomed regarding Blob transactions, which were not yet being tested through MEV-Boost builders.

Busa and Parithosh Jayanthi from the Ethereum Foundation shared insights into the upcoming launch of Devnet #10, which is expected to feature a substantial validator set comprising 330,000 active validators. The changes in validator entry churn limits are part of testing EIP 7514, and a decision on upgrading the Goerli testnet would be based on the results of Devnet #10.

Additionally, it was disclosed that a shadow fork of the Ethereum mainnet will be conducted sometime after Devnet #10, possibly in parallel with testing efforts on public testnets, to further scrutinize the Dencun upgrade.

Developers also discussed the EVM Object Format (EOF), a set of EIPs focused on enhancing the Ethereum Virtual Machine. The primary goal of EOF is to create a new container format for EVM code, enabling clearer differentiation between code and data, new opcodes, and better security for smart contracts.

The presentation detailed various EOF-related EIPs, highlighting the potential benefits and enhancements they could bring to the Ethereum network. The proposal received considerable attention and sparked a lively debate among developers.

The discussion around EOF raised concerns about the timeline, urgency, benefits, increased complexity, and risks associated with the proposed changes. Some developers questioned the need for such a significant alteration to the EVM, while others were concerned about maintaining backward compatibility and the governance of the EVM in the context of a growing Layer-2 ecosystem.

The complexity of the EOF upgrade was one of the central concerns, with developers suggesting that careful consideration should be given to whether it should be implemented at all. They emphasized the importance of making a decisive decision to avoid extended delays in the development process.

Ethereum developers intend to continue discussions about the Cancun/Deneb upgrade, the Verkle proposal, and other potential code changes. The community will focus on finding solutions that balance the need for improvements with the complexity and risks they may introduce.

As Ethereum’s ecosystem evolves, debates surrounding significant upgrades like EOF demonstrate the collaborative and thorough approach taken by the development community to ensure the network’s continued growth and resilience. Developers will be exploring these topics in further detail at upcoming events and discussions, shaping the future of Ethereum’s technological landscape.

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