Ethereum roadmap: The way ahead after Merge

Ethereum roadmap: The way ahead after Merge

Innovation, it appears, is a way of life with the Ethereum blockchain that enables an entire ecosystem of decentralized applications. However, many of those innovations were necessitated by the obstacles faced by the network—scalability issues, security breaches, energy-draining consensus mechanisms, and limited interoperability—since its inception in 2015. In fact, these solutions form the core of what is known as the Ethereum roadmap proposed by the blockchain’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin.           

The Ethereum Merge in 2022 and the Shanghai upgrade in 2023 were groundbreaking developments for the blockchain as they laid the foundation for making the Ethereum network energy-efficient, scalable, resilient, and more secure. In fact, the road ahead for Ethereum outlined by Buterin demarcated the six stages of the network’s evolutionary phase: The Merge, The Surge, The Scourge, The Verge, The Purge, and The Splurge.  

So far in 2024, Ethereum has implemented the Dencun upgrade. The upgrade contains improvements to the Ethereum network’s execution layer (Cancun) and consensus layer (Deneb). The Dencun upgrade also marked the start of the Surge phase of the Ethereum roadmap. 

What is the roadmap for Ethereum? 

The Ethereum roadmap is a strategic plan laid out by its co-founder to outline the future of Ethereum in the coming years. It is a dynamic document that is open to changes to achieve the goals of cheaper transactions, extra security, improved user experience, and future-proofing on the Ethereum network. 

Ethereum 2.0 is envisioned to be the backbone of decentralized technology and the upgrades are designed to achieve this goal. 

Here is a graphic presentation of the Ethereum Roadmap posted by Buterin on the social media site X.

It is important to note that Ethereum upgrades are not sequential. In other words, the Ethereum Foundation works on multiple phases of upgrades simultaneously.  

Why does Ethereum need a roadmap? 

Ethereum is an innovative network that implements regular upgrades to enhance its scalability, security, and sustainability. In fact, acceptance and adoption of new ideas emerging from research and development keep the network going. 

Ethereum roadmap is a document that helps stakeholders keep track of proposed upgrades and changes to the network in the coming years. 

What are the six stages of Ethereum upgrades? 

Ethereum upgrades are broadly classified into five stages as shown in the representation above. Among these, The Merge was activated in 2022. Ethereum watchers believe that the network is now in its all-important Surge phase, with the implementation of the Dencun upgrade in March 2024. The salient features of each of the Ethereum upgrades are as follows: 

  • The Merge: Upgrades relating to the blockchain’s switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake consensus
  • The Surge: Upgrades related to scalability by rollups and data sharding
  • The Scourge: Upgrades related to censorship resistance, decentralization, and protocol risks from MEV
  • The Verge: Upgrades related to verifying blocks more easily
  • The Purge: Upgrades that concern reducing the computational costs of running nodes and simplifying the protocol
  • The Splurge: Other upgrades that don’t fit well into the categories mentioned.

Ethereum is an open-source, decentralized network, not controlled by a single entity. While most of the upgrades in the roadmap are proposed by Ethereum researchers and developers, anyone can offer suggestions.

Ethereum is a dynamic network so the roadmap is subject to change. The upgrades proposed in the roadmap can evolve as new information, ideas, and technologies become available. 

The Ethereum Dencun upgrade

The Dencun upgrade, which marked the beginning of ‘The Surge’ phase of the Ethereum roadmap, went live on March 13, 2024. The upgrade marked a milestone in the Ethereum 2.0 journey as it reduced the cost for layer-2 transactions and enhanced data availability of the network. 

The upgrade also introduced the ‘proto-danksharding’ on the network. This is the first step to scaling the network through the danksharing. Hence, experts believe Ethereum is entering the exciting era of ‘The Surge’ and will witness many upgrades to achieve the stated goal of 100,000 transactions per second. 

What is Danksharding? 

Danksharding is how Ethereum becomes scalable, but several protocol upgrades will be required to reach this stage. ‘Proto-DankSharding’ or EIP-4844 is the immediate step in the scalability direction. 

Proto-Danksharding, or EIP 4844, is a way for rollups to add cheaper data to blocks. Proto-Danksharing introduced data “blobs”—an acronym for ‘Binary Large Objects.’ These data blobs can be sent and attached to blocks, with the goal of minimizing the data stored permanently on Ethereum.

Currently, layer-2 scaling solution rollups post their transactions in CALLDATA, which is expensive as the data remains on the chain. Conversely, the data in ‘blobs’ is automatically deleted after a fixed time. This reduces the storage costs and thus lowers the transaction fees for the users. 

Both Danksharing and Proto-Danksharing aim to make transactions on the layer-2 cheaper for users while scaling the network to more than 1,00,000 transactions per second. 

What’s next on the Ethereum roadmap?

Here are some of the proposed Ethereum upgrades as the blockchain evolves. 

Prague/Electra Upgrade

The Dencun upgrade has gone live. Developers are now focused on the next update termed the Prague/Electra (Pralectra) upgrade. However, the core Ethereum team is not fully convinced about what the upgrade will entail. 

On one hand, it could look like several smaller Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) aimed at adding new features to the protocol. One such example is EIP-6110 aimed at improving security and scalability by changing how the network processes its validator deposis. 

Conversely, Buterin in the same X thread in which he shared the Ethereum Roadmap for 2024 also highlighted there is significant progress on the Verkel Trees front and they are coming closer to being ready for inclusion. 

A part of ‘The Verge’ stage, Verkel Trees are an important milestone in the Ethereum Roadmap as it can potentially increase the scalability of the network. 

While the specifics of the Pralectra update are yet to be decided, it is safe to assume that this upgrade will contribute significantly to the network’s performance, security, scalability, and usability. 

How do the upgrades affect the Ethereum price?

The Ethereum Roadmap promises to make the Ethereum blockchain a thriving environment centered on enhanced scalability, cheaper transactions, and improved user experience. The upgrades could lead to a significant increase in on-chain liquidity, creating opportunities for investors and users.

Still, Ethereum price can suffer a setback if any of the upgrades fails to achieve its objective. 

Additionally, Ethereum prices are dependent on various factors that are not related to the updates such as the overall crypto market sentiment and the state of the US economy. The impending approval of the spot Ether ETFs in the US is likely to have a bearing on the Ethereum prices in the coming years.  

What is the future of Ethereum? 

Given Ethereum’s history of implementing the changes proposed in the Ethereum roadmap, it is safe to say that the network will strive to achieve its goals of cheaper transactions, extra security, better user experience, and future-proofing. 

The upgrades to the network will be implemented over time with top-priority upgrades getting more importance. However, a few lower-priority upgrades are not likely to be implemented in the next 5 to 10 years. 


Disclaimer: Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. The information provided in this post is not to be considered investment/financial advice from CoinSwitch. Any action taken upon the information shall be at the user’s risk.

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