Beyond Blobs: Diving Into Dencun’s Overlooked Upgrades

In addition to EIP-4844, Dencun also introduced significant upgrades bolstering block space efficiency, user security, and network validation.

By: Samuel Haig Loading...

Beyond Blobs: Diving Into Dencun’s Overlooked Upgrades

Ethereum’s long-awaited Dencun hard fork went off without a hitch on March 13, ushering in a new era for Layer 2 scalability. But while all eyes were on the upgrade that reduced transaction costs for the chain’s scaling networks, there were many other key Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs).

“[Dencun] might be the single fork where we ship the most individual EIPs or features,” said Tim Beiko, an Ethereum Foundation developer, during a March 13 live stream.

The main upgrade included in the Dencun fork was EIP-4844, also known as proto-danksharding, which significantly reduces fees on Ethereum Layer 2 networks by replacing gas-intensive calldata — which previously accounted for between 70% and 90% of L2 transaction costs — with lightweight binary large objects (blobs).

Data from GrowThePie shows that average transaction fees on Starknet, a Layer 2 network that implemented support for EIP-4844 prior to Dencun’s activation, dropped 96% to just $0.04 in the past 24 hours from $0.75 on March 13 — indicating Dencun has been a resounding success in bringing down transaction costs on Layer 2.

But “Dencun is more than just EIP-4844,” 0xVEER, the head of developer relations at Mantle, told The Defiant. “These oft-overlooked improvements offer a multi-pronged approach to enhancing the overall user and developer experience on Ethereum. “

EIP-1153 Introduces Transient Storage

Several Layer 2 teams told The Defiant that EIP-1153, also known as Transient Storage, reduces costs and improves the performance of smart contract execution across Ethereum by improving the efficiency of block space usage.

“EIP-1153 introduces new opcodes that don't require storage within Ethereum's global state,” 0xVeer said. “This streamlines block space usage, leading to more efficient gas fee calculations.”

Declan Fox, Linea’s global product lead, said Transient Storage “enables new dApp functionality in a safe and cost-effective manner” by instituting two new opcodes. Opcodes are instructions that can be executed as part of smart contract transactions.

Fox said that the new TSTORE and TLOAD opcodes provide a cheaper alternative to Ethereum’s preceding SSTORE and SLOAD opcodes.

“This allows for an operation exactly like storage but is actually discarded like memory at the end of the transaction, akin to a computer RAM,” Fox continued.

Fabian Vogelsteller, the co-founder of Lukso and author of the ERC-20 token standard, said that Transient Storage will make transactions involving smart contracts “significantly cheaper.”

“EIP-1153… is very important as it allows smart contracts to have globally accessible memory variables,” Vogelsteller said. “This allows for storing variables that can be accessed across different functions in a single transaction, which [previously] needed to be done through a storage variable costing more than 1k gas.”

David Silverman, the VP of Product at Polygon Labs, added that EIP-1153 paves the way for the elimination of exploits via re-entrancy attacks, which comprise a “really common attack vector.”

“Using EIP-1153, you have the ability to do what's called a ‘re-entrancy lock’, which allows for the full wholesale elimination of this attack vector,” Silverman said. “This is a really big change that we’re excited to see.”

Destroying the Self Destruct Opcode

Nick Dodson, the CEO and co-founder of Fuel Labs, highlighted the introduction of EIP-6780, which deactivates Ethereum’s SELFDESTRUCT opcode, except in the context of applications using it to retrieve funds or within the same transaction a contract is created.

The SELFDESTRUCT opcode is used to remove smart contracts or other code from the Ethereum blockchain, meaning its use can place user assets at risk.

“EIP-6780 brings enhanced security to all users [by] limiting termination of smart contracts to increase user data protection and asset security,” Dodson said. 0xVEER also said that EIP-6780 protects user data and safeguards assets held within smart contracts.

Karl Floersch, the CEO of OP Labs and co-founder of Optimism, added that EIP-6780 provides incremental performance improvements to the Ethereum Virtual Machine — Ethereum’s core smart contract engine — bolstering the efficiency of the overall system.

Other EIPs

Dodson and 0xVEER also emphasized the benefits EIP-7044 and EIP-7045 provide to validators.

“EIP-7044 elevates staker security by making pre-signed voluntary exit messages permanently valid, offering a significantly higher level of protection,” 0xVEER said. “EIP-7045 improves the validator experience by extending the submission timeframe for attestations. This opens up block rewards to more validators and speeds up block confirmation through increased attestation accumulation.”

Dodson noted the advantages of EIP-7044 within the context of delegated validator services, asserting the upgrade provides “a much greater level of security for stakers.” Separately, he also underscored the significance of EIP-4788 as “a major step forward for trustless cross-chain communication.”

Tom Ngo, the executive lead at Metis, flagged the implementation of EIP-7514, which limits the number of validators that can onboard to the network.

Ngo said EIP-7514 seeks to “mitigate the negative externalities of a very high level of total ETH supply staked,” noting the growing concentration of Ether’s supply on the Beacon Chain and within liquid staking protocols.

Consolidating the Sharding Roadmap

While proto-danksharding achieved impressive scalability gains on Layer 2, Silverman said EIP-4844 also served to define Ethereum’s updated vision for full sharding.

“We’re seeing [Dencun] as kind of an enshrining of L2s and rollups broadly as Ethereum’s scaling mechanism… as opposed to just trying to scale the L1 itself,” said Silverman.

Silverman noted that Ethereum’s roadmap from a few years ago envisaged a version of sharding where both transaction execution and data are broken up across a large ecosystem of shards as the endgame of Ethereum scaling.

“We've kind of abandoned that roadmap and gotten to just a bunch of data shards — which is essentially what these blobs are — [with] execution being scaled through these rollups,” Silverman continued. “L2 is where scaling is going to happen in order for us to achieve mass adoption.”

0xVEER noted that Sharding is expected to increase Ethereum’s throughput to 100,000 transactions per second in the future, ensuring its “mainstream viability.” However, they said sharding is still “years away” from being realized.

In all, these upgrades work together to ensure a more scalable ecosystem for Ethereum.

“These components collectively empower developers, opening doors to new applications and services that can thrive in a more scalable and efficient blockchain ecosystem,” Floersch said.