Ethereum’s Dencun Upgrade Moves Closer to Mainnet Launch

Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is getting ready for its next major upgrade, Dencun, which promises to improve its scalability and efficiency. Dencun has successfully launched on two testnets, Sepolia and Goerli, and is expected to launch on the final testnet, Holesky, on Feb. 7, 2024.

Dencun is the second phase of Ethereum’s transition from a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism, which relies on miners to secure the network, to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, which relies on validators who stake their ETH to participate in the network. The first phase, Shapella, went live in March 2023, and introduced the Beacon Chain, a new PoS chain that runs parallel to the existing PoW chain.

Dencun aims to merge the two chains and make the Beacon Chain the sole source of truth for Ethereum. This will eliminate the need for PoW mining, which consumes a lot of energy and generates high carbon emissions. Dencun will also introduce a new feature called proto-danksharding, which will increase the network’s capacity and lower the gas fees for transactions.

Proto-danksharding is a novel technique that uses a new data structure called blobs, which are compressed versions of the blocks that store the transactions on the network. Blobs are designed to fit in a single network packet, which means they can be transmitted faster and more efficiently. Blobs also allow for parallel processing of transactions, which means more transactions can be processed in a given time.

According to Parithosh Jayanthi, DevOps engineer at the Ethereum Foundation, blobs are already flowing on the Sepolia testnet, which launched on Jan. 30, 2024. Jayanthi wrote in a post on X, a social media platform for Ethereum developers, that the Dencun deployment on Sepolia was smooth and uneventful, which is a good sign for the upgrade.

The next testnet to launch Dencun is Holesky, which is scheduled for Feb. 7, 2024. Holesky is the final testnet before the mainnet launch, which means it will be the most realistic simulation of the upgrade. Holesky will test the compatibility and interoperability of various Ethereum clients, such as Geth, Nethermind, Besu, and Erigon, which are the software programs that run the nodes on the network.

If Dencun passes the Holesky test, the Ethereum core developers will announce a date for the mainnet launch, which is expected to happen sometime in the first half of 2024. The mainnet launch will mark a historic moment for Ethereum, as it will complete its long-awaited transition to PoS and open the door for further innovation and adoption.

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