Ethereum devs successfully deploy Dencun on Holesky testnet

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Ethereum’s highly anticipated Dencun upgrade took a major step toward deployment on the blockchain’s main network Wednesday, following a successful trial run on the Holesky test network.

The test simulated a key Dencun feature called “proto-danksharding,” which aims to reduce rollup transaction costs and make data storage cheaper. This is achieved by introducing “blobs,” a new compartmentalized data structure.

With the smooth upgrade on Holesky, Dencun has cleared its final test run before going live. The upgrade was deployed at 11:34 UTC and finalized minutes later. Holesky is considered the most rigorous test environment for Ethereum upgrades.

Industry observers expect the upgrade to hit the main network in late February or early March. This would mark the most significant changes to Ethereum since Shapella in March 2023, which enabled withdrawals for staked ether for users and validators.

Dencun represents a combination of two previously separate upgrades — Cancun and Deneb. Cancun targets improvements to Ethereum’s execution layer, which processes transactions, while Deneb focuses on enhancements to the underlying consensus layer.

A major component of Dencun is proto-danksharding (EIP-4844), which will introduce “blobs” to temporarily enable nodes to store and access large amounts of off-chain data. Such a system aims to substantially lower storage demands on the Ethereum network. By facilitating more cost-effective data availability, proto-danksharding is designed to reduce transaction fees significantly, especially benefiting layer 2 rollup chains that rely on Ethereum for security.

Ethereum’s last major upgrade came in March 2023 with the Shapella release, which, for the first time, enabled users and validators to withdraw ether that had been staked on the network under the new proof-of-stake model initiated by the 2022 Merge.

Compared to Shapella, Dencun is seen as more of an optimization upgrade, but one that lays important groundwork for Ethereum’s continued development. Despite its importance, Dencun is viewed as an incremental step toward Ethereum’s long-term vision for scalability and lower fees. The upgrade aims to increase capacity and reduce congestion on the blockchain by optimizing rollups and data availability.

The next biweekly consensus layer meeting among Ethereum developers is scheduled for tomorrow, February 8, at 14:00 UTC. The meeting is expected to be closely watched as the date for Dencun’s mainnet is decided.

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