Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin Ethereum After the Merge: What Comes Next?


At the Ethereum Blockchain community conference in Paris, the Ethereum blockchain is co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, shared what he expects from Ethereum in a post-Merge era. Buterin said at the conference that after the Merge, Ethereum will only be about 55% complete.


The Merge refers to when Ethereum blockchain current proof-of-work (PoW) mainnet protocol will "merge" with the Beacon Chain Proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain Technology system and continue as PoS.


So where does that leave Ethereum blockchain in a post-Merge world? Several analysts have looked at the Merge as the grand finale for the blockchain network. But now, according to Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum blockchain will be attempting at “the Surge, the Verge, the Purge and the Splurge.”


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The anniversary of Ethereum is blockchain mainnet or live version, launch was on 30th July. So, it seems like a good time to look at what to expect for Ethereum blockchain after the Merge.


Ethereum scaling via the Surge


The "Surge" refers to Ethereum Blockchain introducing systems that will make the network more scalable (expandable) by enabling the creation of layer 2, or companion, products, including sharding and rollups, and hence making it smooth for users to operate on the Ethereum Blockchain Network.




During this phase for Ethereum blockchain, the introduction of sharding is highly expected on the network. Sharding would split Ethereum blockchain is entire network into minor pieces, known as “shards,” which is envisioned to increase the network is scalability. It does this by breaking up data within the same blockchain network, in essence creating multiple mini-blockchains. This becomes a lot simpler to do once the protocol moves to proof-of-stake. Ethereum Blockchain then will aim to create a physically sharded system of 64 linked databases.


Sharding is a concept in computer science domain that scales applications so they can support more data. If sharding can be implemented the on Ethereum Blockchain, each user could store part of the change to the database, instead of the entire thing.


Danksharding has also seen growing interest in a post-merge world for Ethereum blockchain. While Vitalik Buterin did not specifically mention the concept in Paris, Ethereum Blockchain aficionados have turned to this prototype as a way of making Ethereum blockchain more scalable. Danksharding applies the same logic of splitting the Blockchain Network into shards, but instead of using the shards to increase transactions it uses them to increase space for groups of data. This allows for Ethereum blockchain to process larger quantities of data.


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While the press coming out of Paris has started to draw attention to Ethereum Blockchain exploring sharding, this has been an idea since Ethereum blockchain emerged in 2013. The implementation is expected to begin sometime in 2023.


Ethereum blockchain developers are also looking to expand its scaling potential with the introduction of rollups. Rollups perform transactions outside of the Ethereum blockchain base layer (layer 1) and then post the transaction data onto the layer 1 blockchain, allowing it to take advantage of the main Ethereum Blockchain Security Chain. Many analysts have said that rollups are still a while away but the introduction of some newer projects, including zkSync and Polygon zkEVM, shows that the next phase of Ethereum blockchain is closer than expected.


There are currently two types of rollups: Optimistic rollups, which assumes transactions are valid for a default period and run-on layer 2 networks before being passed back to the base layer, and Zero-Knowledge rollups (ZK rollups), which run the transactions off-chain and submit the proof of validity to the layer 1 network. Overall, ZK rollups hold some computational benefits over optimistic rollups, given that they will have to provide proof that the transaction is valid instead of having a time period to accept or reject the transaction.



For a while, Optimistic rollups seemed like the ideal solution to scaling the Ethereum Blockchain Network, but with ZK rollups on its way and the sharding process beginning sometime in 2023, there is a lot of scope to make Ethereum blockchain more scalable.


The Verge


The next phase the for Ethereum blockchain will introduce Verkle trees, which will also tackle the issue of scalability. Verkle trees are a “powerful upgrade to Merkle proofs that allow for much smaller proof sizes,” according to Vitalik Buterin. The so-called Verge will optimize storage and reduce node sizes. Ultimately, this will make Ethereum blockchain more scalable.


For context, Merkle trees intention is to create reliable encryption by converting blocks of information and data into long strands of code. The newest blocks of data, or leaves, are grouped together to form branches. This then traces a string of numbers, known as the Merkle root that contains all the previous data. This method was first explored on the Bitcoin blockchain and later adapted for Ethereum blockchain.


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So essentially, Verkle trees will allow users to store a large amount of information by showing a short proof of any piece of that information, which in turn will be confirmed by someone who only has a root of the tree. This process will then make proofs much more efficient.


Verkle trees is still a new idea and are still not as widely known or used as other cryptographic solutions. So, while the Surge will deal with sharding and rollups, that phase will then affect how the network deals with scalability and proofs for Ethereum Blockchain.


The Purge + Splurge


The Purge aims at reducing, or “purging,” spare historical information. Reducing the amount of historical information will make the process of validating the Ethereum blockchain more efficient for validators under the new proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. This should minimize network congestion and allow many more transactions to be processed on the blockchain network. Vitalik Buterin said that by the end of this phase, Ethereum Blockchain should be able to process 100,000 transactions per second.


Once all these previous parts come together, Vitalik Buterin has described the next part, the Splurge, as “the fun stuff.” It aims at making sure that the blockchain network continues to run smoothly and that the updates to the protocol in the previous sections do not cause any issues. The tough work of making Ethereum Blockchain more scalable will have been completed.


This ultimate stage is still in the distant future; as in all tech development, there are bound to be hiccups along the way. Given that the Merge has taken much longer than expected, the Splurge – when it finally arrives – will mark a much-deserved celebratory phase for the Ethereum Blockchain Network.

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