The Ethereum network has confirmed an upcoming update to its network in early 2024, dubbed “Dencun.” The Dencun upgrade will increase the efficiency, scalability, and security of the Ethereum network by improving operation and decreasing gas fees via a process referred to as Proto-Danksharding and a collection of other Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs). 

Read on for a detailed walkthrough of the Dencun update.

What Is the Ethereum Cancun-Deneb (Dencun) Update?

The Ethereum Cancun-Deneb (or Dencun) update is the next significant upgrade to the Ethereum network after the Shanghai upgrade.

Dencun is a fusion of the Cancun and Deneb upgrades. The Cancun upgrade will be to Ethereum’s execution layer, while the Deneb upgrade will be to the consensus layer. The Deneb upgrade will complement the Cancun upgrade to complete the Dencun upgrade. 

The Dencun upgrade will attempt to address the unresolved issues facing the Ethereum network, including security and scalability, following the Shanghai update.

Ethereum network upgrades are usually implemented through a hard fork that touches on different parts of the network. The Cancun update will involve a major upgrade for the two Ethereum layers.

  • The Cancun upgrade will focus on the proposed modifications by five different EIPs to enhance various aspects of the network’s execution layer (Layer 1). 
  • The Deneb update will complement the Cancun update to achieve the Dencun upgrade and will be more focused on Ethereum’s consensus layer (Layer 2).

The Cancun-Deneb upgrade is expected to grow the speed of Ethereum’s transaction per second (TPS), allowing for increased traffic on the network while preserving decentralization. This upgrade shows that Ethereum is on course with its tiered roadmap phase of ‘The Surge’ that aims to scale the network’s TPS to 100,000. 

All the proposed modifications are designed to reduce gas fees and increase Ethereum’s throughput. 

Ethereum Cancun EIPs Explained

The impending Ethereum Cancun-Deneb upgrade encompasses several Ethereum Improvement Proposals that are key in advancing the network. These EIP updates serve various purposes, like reducing operational costs on the Ethereum blockchain and improving the network’s data storage proficiency. 

The Cancun upgrade will feature the following critical EIPs: 

  • EIP-2322: This will target Ethereum’s consensus layer by introducing an update to Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, making it more efficient and robust. 
  • EIP-4844: The Cancun update will be centered around this proposal, which will oversee the implementation of Proto-Danksharding. This EIP will increase Ethereum’s transactional throughput, which will, in turn, boost the network’s scalability.
  • EIP-1153: This proposal will reduce the cost of data storage while optimizing block space.
  • EIP-4788: Proposes an improvement to the infrastructure of cross-chain bridges and staking pools, thus enhancing functionality and security.
  • EIP-5656: Suggests minor yet important code changes to EVM for enhanced performance. 
  • EIP-6780: Aims to enhance security by eliminating the SELFDESTRUCT code function that can potentially discontinue smart contracts. 

Ultimately, all these EIPs are part of a bigger vision to make Ethereum a much more attractive ecosystem for both developers and users by decreasing gas fees while increasing throughput. 

Benefits of Ethereum Dencun Upgrade

The Ethereum Dencun update is expected to bring with it multiple benefits to the Ethereum ecosystem and network. Besides solving the most common issues, such as scalability and security, it will also potentially open up Ethereum’s ecosystem to new use cases and more users. 

In addition, the upgrade will offer both developers and users a more user-friendly and seamless experience by enhancing security, improving cross-chain communication and data storage, optimizing gas fees, and tackling scalability issues.

The proposed changes in EIP-5656 will also lay the foundation for the network’s future technical advancements.  

Potential Risks of the Dencun Upgrade

Just like with past upgrades, the Dencun upgrade might have some potential risks. One such potential risk is tied to the impact the update will have on the already existing smart contracts, as introducing new changes and features could create compatibility issues. 

Integration is also another potential risk. The Dencun upgrade aims to improve data storage to enhance efficiency. However, there’s no guarantee that the data migration will be seamless and not cause any issues to ongoing operations, as this requires proper planning and execution. 

As a major network upgrade, there’s a need for Ethereum developers to conduct extensive testing during the implementation phase to guarantee a smooth transition while ensuring all stakeholders stay well-informed about the risks to avoid any potential backlash from the community. 

When Is the Dencun Update Going Live?

No specific date has been announced for when the Dencun update will go live. However, it’s expected that the upgrade will happen in early 2024.

The upgrade had previously been planned to go live in October 2023. This changed after a discussion that was had at the All Core Developer Consensus in November 2023.