Ethereum mainnet 2021 year-end review

Tim Beiko of the Ethereum Foundation gave a speech on “Understanding the Process of Transition to Proof of Stake” in November. In this sharing, he reviewed and sorted out the four hard forks of the Ethereum mainnet in 2021, and summarized the improvements made; sorted out the evolution of the Ethereum 2.0 roadmap, and explained why The current rollup is the center and the architecture of the executable beacon chain is adopted; the merged Ethereum architecture and the transition process are analyzed in detail; finally, the client team explores the implementation and testing process of the merger in 2021, and explains The current progress and future realization plan are also reviewed.

This speech is very suitable as a summary of the Ethereum main network in the past year. ECN has hereby translated the speech part of this video and attached relevant article resources as a supplement and index for readers to review and organize.

Ethereum mainnet 2021 year-end review

Four hard forks of Ethereum in 2021

Berlin upgrade (April)

Included EIP:

EIP-2565: ModExp Gas Cost (ModExp Gas Cost)

Re-price the EIP-198 (Large Number Modular Exponentiation) that previously introduced the modular exponentiation precompiled module. This module allows us to introduce many cryptographic algorithms that require modular exponentiation, such as RSA signature verification. EIP-2565 proposes to reduce the gas cost of this module ModExp (0x00..05) to make it similar to the cost of other operations.

EIP-2718: Typed Transaction Envelop

This proposal introduces a new transaction type, which is a transaction envelope that can more easily support multiple transaction types. When Ethereum first launched on the mainnet, there was only one transaction type, with fields “To” (specify the destination of the transaction) and “Data” (including any data in the transaction), which makes the Ethereum client must be consistent , To ensure that the exact same changes are made at the exact same time. Later, as transaction types changed, EIP-155 (simple protection against replay attacks) was included in the Spurious Dragon hard fork, allowing clients to have different interpretations of fields. EIP-2718 cannot solve the complexity introduced by EIP-155, but it can prevent the introduction of more complexity in the future, making it easier to add new transaction types, such as EIP-1559 type transactions.

EIP-2929: Gas cost increases for state access opcodes (Gas cost increases for state access opcodes)

This EIP increases the gas cost of a transaction when SLOAD, CALL, BALANCE, EXT and SELFEDESTRUCT are called for the first time. But it is worth noting that for each address or storage slot, such high overhead only occurs the first time it is triggered, and subsequent multiple calls only consume 100 gas each time. Increasing these gas costs on the one hand can resolve the impact of the largest DoS attack vector remaining on the Ethereum protocol, and on the other hand, it can limit the size of witness data for future implementation of stateless Ethereum.

EIP-2930: Optional access lists

The purpose of this proposal is to correct the damage caused by EIP-2929 to existing contracts and to alleviate the problems caused by increased gas overhead. This proposal adds a new transaction type, which contains an access list (the content is the address and the storage item key) that the transaction plan will access. By specifying an access list, the client can process transactions more easily, and gas consumption can therefore be safely reduced.

Related Reading:

“Gas Cost after the Berlin Hard Fork”

“Ethereum Berlin Upgrade Announcement”

London Upgrade (August)

Included EIP:

EIP-1559: Fee market change for ETH1.0 chain

EIP-1559 is one of the most anticipated changes in the history of Ethereum, and it is also the EIP that brought the biggest changes in the London upgrade. This EIP will introduce a “basefee” in the network block, which will track gas prices, which come from transactions that the network will accept based on the demand for block space. This means that wallets and users will be able to more easily predict the price of their transactions. In addition, EIP-1559 adds a new transaction type. Users can specify the maximum amount they are willing to pay. When they send this maximum fee to the miner, they will get the maximum fee minus the sum of the basic fee and the miner tip. The difference is refunded. Finally, this EIP will also cause some transaction fees to be burned, which is considered by most of the community to be an important improvement measure in the economics of the Ethereum network.

EIP-3198: BASEFEE opcode (BASEFEE opcode)

This EIP is matched with EIP-1559. It simply adds a BASEFEE opcode, which returns the basic cost of the block in which the transaction is executed. This will allow smart contracts to access this value on the chain, which helps to submit fraud proofs and create trustless gas price derivatives.

EIP-3529: Reduction in refunds

Another major change introduced in London is the cancellation of the gas return of the opcode SELFDESTRUCT and the reduction of the gas return of the opcode SSTORE. Although the original intention of setting up the return was to encourage developers to clear the state when possible, the reality is that this led to the appearance of Gas Token, which increased the size of the state instead. Using these returned gas, the Gas Token can be filled up when the gas price is low, and then get a refund for executing these transactions when the gas price rises. In addition, gas return will also cause changes in block execution time. EIP-3529 lowered the “execution gas return” from 50% to a maximum of 20%. This change will help offset the additional block size changes introduced by EIP-1559, because EIP-1559 allows blocks to use twice the current gas limit.

EIP-3541: Reject new contracts starting with the 0xEF byte (Reject new contracts starting with the 0xEF byte)

This EIP will make it impossible to deploy new contracts beginning with the 0xEF byte after the London upgrade, and they will be retained as a way to identify compliance with EIP-3540 semantics in the future. The EVM Object Format (EOF) proposed by EIP-3540 is an extensible and versionable EVM bytecode container format that will be verified once during deployment. Therefore, EIP-3541 lays the foundation for more extensive EVM improvements in the future.

EIP-3554: Difficulty Bomb Delay to December 1st 2021 (Difficulty Bomb Delay to December 1st 2021)

EIP-3554 Delayed difficulty bomb, also known as the Ice Age. The difficulty bomb or Ice Age is a mechanism introduced by Ethereum to “freeze” mining when the network transitions to proof of rights. Since the transition to proof of stake is not yet ready, we need to postpone the bomb’s “explosion” time. This has been done three times in the past: in Metropolis (EIP-649), Constantinople (EIP-1234) and Muir Glacier (EIP-2384).

Related Reading:

“London Upgrade Overview”

“London Mainnet Upgrade Announcement and Related Code Changes”

“Why do you need 1559”

“Why do I think there is no need to worry about changes in the block capacity of EIP-1559”

“MEV and EIP-1559”

“Analysis of the trading package market under EIP-1559 from the perspective of MEV”

“When the Ethereum London upgrade is completed (the 37th issue of Ether Seven-Day Talk)”

“EIP-3529: Reduce GAS Return”

Beacon Chain Altair Upgrade (October)

Altair is an upgrade of the beacon chain, and its new features include:

  • Synchronization committee supporting light clients
  • Incentive calculation reform to reduce regulatory complexity
  • Revise proof rewards to improve incentive compatibility
  • Separately calculate the sabotage penalty for each validator
  • The penalty parameter is updated to the original penalty level

Related Reading:

“Altair Mainnet Upgrade Announcement”

“Modeling and Analyzing the Impact of Altair Upgrade”

“Finalized no.24”

“Altair Upgrade Explanation (The 30th Ether Seven-Day Talk)”

Each issue of “Consensus Layer Progress Update”

Arrow Glacier Upgrade (December)

Arrow Glacier is another network upgrade similar to Muir Glacier. It will only include an EIP-the difficulty bomb will be postponed to next summer to prevent the blockchain from freezing, the “ice age”.

The evolution of the Ethereum 2.0 roadmap

At a seminar in Taipei in 2018, the core developers of Ethereum made a three-stage Ethereum 2.0 roadmap. The content delivered in each stage is:

  • Phase 0 will bring the beacon chain
  • In phase 1, data fragmentation will be added
  • In phase 2, a virtual machine is added to each shard to implement calculations in the system.

By the end of 2020, before the beacon chain can start soon, although the work of phase 1 is progressing smoothly, there are still many unresolved problems in phase 2, which will implement computing functions on the shards introduced in phase 1. At the same time, very rapid progress is taking place in rollup (that is, the second-tier expansion plan). Several teams announced that they would be on the testnet and achieved encouraging early results. Around this time, Vitalik published a long article on the Ethereum Magicians forum, arguing that we should focus our short- and medium-term expansion work on rollup. Not only will they be on the mainnet before the completion of Phase 2, but they will also be the biggest beneficiaries of Phase 1.

In November of the same year, Mikhail Kalinin published “Executable Beacon Chain”, which proposed the current merger structure and brought out several insights:

  • The beacon chain has been launched and can now be used as a consensus engine;
  • Rollup is the best short-term solution for extended computing;
  • The current Eth1 client is the best basis for the merged execution layer;
  • Moving to proof of equity can be achieved in a way that has the least impact on the currently running application

In the article, Mikhail proposed to directly use the proof of stake as a new consensus algorithm used by the client.

Structure and merger process after merger

In summary, after the merger, the client will switch from the PoW chain to the PoS chain to determine the latest valid block of Ethereum. In addition, most of the client’s functions, and more importantly the EVM, its state, and how it executes transactions, remain unchanged. The current Eth1 and Eth2 clients have become the execution layer and consensus layer (or engine) of Ethereum respectively. This means that the node operator of the Eth1 or beacon chain client will need to run the “other half” of the stack to have a complete verification node.

Ethereum mainnet 2021 year-end review

Ethereum mainnet 2021 year-end review

In the process of merging, the beacon node will monitor the current PoW chain. When the Total Difficulty of a block reaches the set TERMINAL_TOTAL_DIFFICULTY (total difficulty at the end), the block becomes the last PoW block, and the subsequent block The blocks are all started to be constructed and proven by verifiers on the beacon chain. When this block is finally finalized on the beacon chain, the merger is complete.

Ethereum mainnet 2021 year-end review

The process and plan of the merger

The three landmark events that achieved the merger were the Rayonism hackathon in April, the Amphora workshop in October, and the Kintsugi project in November.

In order to verify the feasibility of the executable beacon chain architecture, in the month-long Rayonism hackathon, the client team conducted a prototype design and built a test network Nocturne, which proved that the executable beacon chain is a feasible architecture.

In October, in the Amphora workshop event, the client team once again gathered to solve the outstanding issues on the specification. At the end of the event, the client team built a development test network, which ran through the conversion process of all client combinations and finalized the merged block.

After the Amphora event, after four short development test nets, the developer launched the Kintsugi test net plan. During the period from November to mid-December, developers will launch a new development testnet every week and make improvements based on the previous one. During the Christmas holidays, a long-term public testnet has been launched and everyone is encouraged to participate in the test.

At present, the realization work has been completed 80%~90%, Arrow Glacier postponed the difficulty bomb to June next year, which means that there will be more testing work before June next year.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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