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EIP-4844 Meaning

Feb 23, 2024 | Updated Feb 23, 2024
EIP-4844 is a proposed Ethereum network upgrade intended to boost the network’s scalability while reducing costs.

What Is Ethereum’s EIP-4844 Update?

The Ethereum Improvement Proposal 4844 (EIP-4844), also known as proto-danksharding, is a  planned change to the Ethereum network that focuses on making transactions faster and cheaper. It is one of the proposed changes in Ethereum’s development roadmap, anticipated to be implemented in Q1 of 2024.

This Ethereum upgrade will be implemented as part of the Cancun-Deneb (Dencun) update, where Cancun represents the upgrade on the execution layer and Deneb is the upgrade on the consensus layer. The Dencun upgrade is expected to improve Ethereum’s efficiency, scalability, and security without compromising its decentralization.

What Is Proto-Danksharding?

Sharding is one of the ways for Ethereum to scale. It refers to splitting a network into smaller partitions called shards. Notably, the Ethereum network has altered its sharding choices from implementing full execution sharding to danksharding to a further refined proto-danksharding. Why all these changes?

In full execution sharding, the Ethereum network would have been split up into smaller parts (shards), with transactions being validated on individual shards as opposed to the entire network. While this approach would achieve its primary goal of increasing Ethereum’s throughput, it would have compromised security as each shard would have fewer validators than the entire, unsharded network. Not to mention that fully sharding Ethereum would be incredibly complex to carry out at this stage.

As a result of these challenges, as well as the emergence of blockchain rollups as one solution to Ethereum’s scalability issues, sharding was replaced in Ethereum’s roadmap by danksharding. In danksharding, shards would not process transactions but rather enable rollups to process more data.

So what about proto-danksharding? Well, proto-danksharding is intended to be a step on the way to full danksharding. Coined after Ethereum researchers Protolambda and Dankrad Feist, proto-danksharding is designed to improve the scalability of blockchain rollups. It does this by introducing a new type of transaction – blob-carrying transactions – that allows rollups to add data to blocks in a much more cost-efficient manner. Blob-carrying transactions resemble regular transactions but with extra pieces of information (blob data) attached to them. 

Consider blob data as compressed or zipped files, which are inaccessible to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Most importantly, in contrast to blocks, which permanently reside on the blockchain, blobs self-destruct after a brief period of 1-3 months. This nature of blobs substantially reduces the data transmission and storage costs for blockchain rollups.

To learn more about Proto-Danksharding, read this article from Ledger Academy on Danksharding and Proto-danksharding Explained.

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