What is Ethereum's roadmap?

The Ethereum ETH +0.36% blockchain has completed its main technological change since inception, moving from proof of work to proof of stake during The Merge. This solved its environmental issues but failed to address its scalability challenges.

Now Ethereum developers are looking at how they can improve the network, particularly in helping it support Layer 2 networks — its main vision for scaling.

Buterin's development roadmap for Ethereum

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin proposed a development roadmap designed to enhance the network's capacity and functionalities. It splits up into five main buckets of upgrades (plus The Merge, which has already taken place).

The Surge is an upgrade focusing on improving scalability through sharding with respect to data availability. This will make it easier for the blockchain platform support Layer 2 networks, like Optimism, Arbitrum, Base and zkSync.

The Verge, another planned upgrade, is predicted to support the Ethereum blockchain's growth. It introduces the concept of "stateless validation," which will allow validators to participate without being restricted by hardware requirements. This upgrade involves Verkle Trees, a highly technical concept that will significantly reduce the amount of data needed to store the Ethereum blockchain.

At the same time, Ethereum plans to purge old state data, reducing the amount of data that validators need to store. The old data will still be available, but validators will not need to interact with it. This step is part of The Purge upgrade, which aims to simplify the Ethereum protocol and eliminate technical debt.

The Scourge incorporates additional features that the Ethereum community wants to build into the blockchain, such as reducing MEV and improving access to data. This will see the introduction of proposer-builder separation, a move designed to separate the roles of those involved during the block production process.

Start your day with the most influential events and analysis happening across the digital asset ecosystem.

By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Beyond this, the Splurge is a bucket of other improvements that didn't fit in any of the other categories.

Beyond these upgrades, other initiatives include using zero-knowledge proofs across the network for security and privacy reasons. Plus, the network is considering the need to adapt to using quantum-resistant encryption in order to maintain its security.

The official roadmap

While Buterin's plan was catchy, its terminology wasn't adopted by the Ethereum Foundation. Instead, it prefers to refer to the specific technological upgrades contained within the buckets of upgrades as individual items.

For instance, the foundation highlights key upgrades such as danksharding, proposer-builder separation, verkle trees and account abstraction as individual items. It broadly groups them into upgrades that are focused on cheaper transactions, security, user experience and future proofing.

Each individual upgrade has its own Ethereum Improvement Proposal specification. Tracking the progress of these EIPs can be used to determine when they will be implemented into the Ethereum network.

In the near future, the next main change will be the Ethereum Cancun-Deneb upgrade. This will primarily introduce proto-danksharding, a precurser to full danksharding. This is one of the main moves for lowering transaction costs and boosting the connection between Ethereum's base layer and any Layer 2s built on top of it.

Disclaimer: This article was produced with the assistance of OpenAI’s ChatGPT 3.5/4 and reviewed and edited by our editorial team.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Tim is the Editor-In-Chief of The Block. Prior to joining The Block, Tim was a news editor at Decrypt. He has earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of York and studied news journalism at Press Association Training. Follow him on X @Timccopeland.