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Stagnation means death, in life and in crypto. A cryptocurrency project that doesn’t evolve and adapt to the changing requirements of the industry stands no chance of success. We have multiple examples of cryptos that have failed for this very reason. But the crypto space has also provided us with numerous success stories, and Ethereum is probably the most impressive one so far.
Ethereum is one of those cryptocurrencies that has always kept its eyes on the future, constantly focusing on improving various aspects and functions of its platform to provide users with the best possible experience and outshine the competition. The numerous upgrades and updates that the Ethereum blockchain has undergone since its inception in order to achieve its developmental goals stand proof of the platform’s innovative and forward-thinking nature, something that is also reflected in the evolution of the Ethereum price over the years.
And here we are today, with Ethereum still shining as the second-largest crypto in the market and the indisputable leader of the altcoins. But if achieving success is harder, maintaining it is even harder. So, Ethereum can’t afford to rest on its laurels with all the competition coming from behind. Fortunately, the blockchain has no intention of slowing the pace of innovation. On the contrary, according to Ethereum’s roadmap, great things await ahead as the platform is getting ready for a series of new improvements that will address important aspects such as scaling, gas fees, smart contracts and privacy.
A quick recap of Ethereum’s past upgrades
Although Ethereum is not one to live from its past successes, it’s worth taking a look at what the platform has achieved so far with its past upgrades to gain a better idea of the project’s ambition and potential.
The Merge, which was completed on September 15th 2022, is without a doubt the biggest and most important update made to the Ethereum network since it was launched back in 2015. Under the Merge, Ethereum switched from a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus protocol to a proof-of-stake (PoS) model. This allowed Ethereum to optimize energy efficiency (energy consumption has been reduced by 99%), enable scalability and create a more secure decentralized network. The Merge also set the foundation for future upgrades that will tackle other important aspects of the network.
More recently, Ethereum rolled out another important upgrade, dubbed Shanghai or Shapella, which represented the final stage in the Merge transition. The upgrade went live on April 12th, giving users the possibility to finally withdraw their staked ETH along with the rewards they’ve earned from staking. The introduction of the withdrawal functionality provided users with peace of mind and increased confidence in the network’s capabilities.
On the path to becoming a world computer
Ethereum is already a very popular and influential player in the crypto sphere, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. This is why developers are now focusing on a set of upgrades that will boost the platform’s scalability and resilience, and turn Ethereum into a veritable world computer, as it was always the plan.
Vitalik Buterin, the man who co-created Ethereum, has recently talked about the main technical improvements that the platform requires to make this possible. Scalability and high transaction fees are two major issues that the network hopes to address with optimistic rollups. This involves bundling multiple transactions together and processing them off-chain before submitting them to the Ethereum Mainnet. As a result, each transaction will cost less and network congestion will be greatly reduced.
Next on the to-do list are smart contract wallets. At the moment, onboarding users with wallets implies a rather cumbersome process, and the concerning prevalence of wallet hacks also represents an issue. The introduction of smart contract wallets could provide a solution to these problems.
Last but not least, Ethereum also aims to improve user privacy. Contrary to common belief, crypto transactions are not completely anonymous since crypto assets can be traced using wallet addresses. Buterin hopes that in the future stealth addresses can enhance users’ privacy on the Ethereum blockchain.
Looking at Ethereum’s roadmap which lays out all the short- and long-term plans to improve the platform, the Surge is the next step in Ethereum’s evolution. The aim is to boost the network’s scalability by reducing the cost of transactions. In the beginning, sharding (a technique that involved splitting the Ethereum blockchain into multiple chains to distribute the load of processing transactions) was considered the most viable solution in this respect. But as new ideas on improving the network emerged, sharding lost ground in favor of L2 rollups, under the proto-danksharding (aka. EIP-4844) proposal.
Therefore, Ethereum is getting ready to introduce blob-carrying transactions to reduce gas fees and increase transaction speed. The network has already managed to reduce costs with L2 rollups such as Optimism and Arbitrium. Still, in some cases, fees can go as high as $1 per transaction and that represents an impediment for many users. With proto-danksharding, developers want to reduce gas fees further and give more people the possibility to access the network and the services it provides.
As explained, rollups gather multiple transactions into batches to be processed off-chain so gas fees for individual transactions are greatly reduced. To ensure transparency, data related to these transactions can be accessed and verified by users, but it’s not necessary to store the data indefinitely. Once the verification process is completed, transaction history can be removed. Proto-danksharding will use data blobs to store rollup history for a specified period of time and then automatically discard it. The final goal is to pave the path to danksharding and take Ethereum scalability to a whole new level.
As always, Ethereum aims high with its upgrades. But given the network’s track history of success and all the updates it managed to roll out without a hitch over the years, we have all the reason to believe that Ethereum will be able to achieve its future goals.
Featured image via Unsplash.