- Discrepancies between consensus and execution layer client developers have led to the delay of Ethereum’s security-enhancing Dencun upgrade.
- While execution layer client teams are ready for upcoming testnets, persistent consensus issues among developer networks contribute to the uncertainty surrounding the upgrade’s implementation in 2023.
Disagreements Halt Progress: The Dencun Dilemma
On Thursday, October 26, a unanimous decision was reached among Ethereum client developers— the implementation of the Dencun upgrade will not occur before the year-end. The key players in this scenario are the developer clients for the consensus layer and the execution layer, who have found themselves at odds, creating a significant rift in the upgrade’s progress.
Identifying the Core Issue: A Tale of Two Layers
The heart of the matter lies in the disagreements between the two primary categories of Ethereum clients: the consensus layer and the execution layer. The consensus layer is crucial for achieving agreement across the network, ensuring all nodes are in sync, while the execution layer is responsible for executing smart contracts and managing the blockchain state.
Last month’s launch of the Holešky testnet, already behind schedule, coupled with the general consensus that thorough testing of the upgrade by December would be a challenge, was the first indication of troubles ahead. During the subsequent All Core Developers call, sentiments echoed by Potuz, a pseudonymous Prysm developer, brought the situation into sharper focus. Potuz remarked,
“There is no way we are implementing a mainnet fork in 2023,”
highlighting the persistent issues that have plagued the ten developer networks established to test the upgrade.
While the execution layer client teams reported readiness for upcoming testnets, with Lightclient of Geth stating,
“We are in a pretty good place, a lot of things are also on Master now,”
the consensus teams expressed reservations. Prysm’s Potuz, in particular, voiced discomfort at the idea of a full client fork on Goerli, citing
“very significant and profound changes still being implemented in the branch.”
Understanding the Dencun Upgrade: A Step Towards Secure Scaling
The Dencun upgrade is designed to enhance the security of Ethereum’s scaling improvements, specifically Proto-Danksharding, through advanced cryptographic techniques. A pivotal component of this upgrade is the KZG Ceremony, involving numerous participants contributing to a collaborative cryptographic scheme, resulting in a “structured reference string” essential for the KZG Commitments. This scheme is integral to Proto-Danksharding’s functionality.
After months of collective effort, involving 141,416 participants, a high level of security was achieved for the upgrade. However, the internal discrepancies among the developer teams have cast a shadow on the timeline for its implementation.
Simultaneously, the Ethereum scaling project Scroll is reporting positive progress, having recently surpassed $15 million in DeFi Total Value Locked (TVL), showcasing a silver lining amidst the ongoing challenges.