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What is Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade?

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After the successful transition to proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus in September, Ethereum developers want to prioritize the enabling of staking withdrawals through the Shanghai upgrade. This is the next key milestone on Ethereum’s roadmap.

The Shanghai upgrade promises more features to the Ethereum network to improve functionality. It will bring about several significant improvements and other smaller ones to the chain. The upgrade will enable withdrawals for ETH stakers and validators from the Beacon Chain. Initially, EIP-4884 was expected to be packaged in Shanghai to introduce proto-danksharding to enhance Layer 2 rollup scalability called The Surge.

Tim Beiko, the Ethereum core developer, said the ultimate consensus was to focus on Shanghai first to avoid any potential delays if EIP-4844 were to not be ready in time. He pointed out that everyone had agreed to include a set of EIPs that essentially upgrade the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), including a new EVM contract format, code, data separations, and new operation codes. Beiko explained the upgrades, known as EVM Object Format, are quite easy to walk back and remove from Shanghai, that is if developers haven’t finished working on it when Shanghai is ready for implementation. As such, EOF will be removed and shipped later.

Moreover, a set of agreed upon EIPs, including EIP-3651: Warm Coinbase, EIP-3855: PUSH0 instruction, EIP-3860: Limit and meter initicode, and EIP-4895: Beacon chain push withdrawals as operations, will roll out alongside Shanghai. Beiko added that if the EOF milestones are not met by January, it will be removed from Shanghai so withdrawals ship as soon as possible.

EOF is an update to the EVM, the mechanism underlying Ethereum that deploys smart contracts on the network. In over two years, there have been no updates to the EVM. It is very much needed but was avoided because of the Merge, as it would have added immense complexity to the already highly intricate technical event.

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