What is Proto-Danksharding and What Does It Mean for Ethereum

Daniejjimenez
SafeStake
Published in
5 min readNov 2, 2023

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If you’re seeing the term “Proto-danksharding” being thrown around lately on social media, you’re not alone. And if you’re like many people, you’re probably wondering what it is. While the name itself can seem a bit overwhelming, this article will explain in simple terms what this upcoming Ethereum improvement entails.

EIP-4844

Proto-danksharding is also known as EIP-4844, the next in a series of improvements that have been happening to Ethereum since its inception. EIP-4844 is an intermediate step on the path to a truly scalable blockchain, where implementing Proto-danksharding will allow for “rollups” on Layer 2 that add data to blocks in a more cost-efficient way.

Proto-danksharding is new temporary storage for Ethereum that will increase transaction capacity, while simultaneously reducing transaction costs.

As demand for block space increases, transaction costs are becoming economically unsustainable for basic actions, like sending/swapping tokens, obtaining a DeFi loan, or simply putting ETH to work earning passive income through staking.

To effectively serve its next billion users, Ethereum must find a way to decrease gas prices and transaction fees in a market where thousands of bots compete and outbid each other to get their transactions included in the next block. In pursuit of this goal, we have seen L2 solutions like Arbitrum, Optimism, Base Chain, and others quickly gain traction as they integrate themselves into Ethereum’s scalability roadmap.

L2 solutions pay significant fees to the Ethereum blockchain to post their transaction batches on L1. In fact, according to data from the Artemis Blockchain Activity Monitor, Layer 2 has recently seen a significant increase in Ethereum gas usage, with four different L2s, Linea, zkSync, Arbitrum, and Optimism, paying a combined total of over $2 million in gas fees on L1 in the last 30 days.

Source: Artemis Blockchain Activity Monitor

And, Blockworks Research data via Dune Analytics confirms L2 rollups are doing their job, saving end users and dApp developers more than 99% on gas fees.

Diving Deeper into Proto-danksharding

Proto-Danksharding is considered to be the precursor to Danksharding, introducing what is known as “blob” transactions that carry data used by L2 rollups.

As Feist and Buterin explained in a recent Bankless interview, Ethereum blocks can currently hold between 50 and 100 kB of data, but with Proto-danksharding, their capacity will increase to almost 1 MB.

While a “blob” transaction is similar to a regular transaction, blobs carry an additional piece of data called a “drop.” Drops can be substantial (around 125 kB each), offering a much more cost-effective solution than the “calldata” that is currently used by L2 rollups.

Source: notes.ethereum

This new type of transaction brings Ethereum closer to Danksharding, which is essentially a new kind of data availability layer. Danksharding is expected to result in a significant increase in block space and significantly reduce transaction costs, up to 10x less than current gas fees.

In the meantime, implementing Proto-danksharding will create a separate transaction type that contains more cost-efficient data in larger blocks with a fixed size, along with a limit on the number of blobs that can be included in each block.

Taking a deeper dive into this new technology, a blob consists of 4096 field-elements of 32 bytes each. Proto-danksharding will allow for a maximum of 16 blobs per block, and Danksharding will bump that number up to 256.

Source: notes.ethereum

Due to the increased block space, data availability sampling (DAS) is required to enable validators to easily verify availability without downloading all the data contained in the blob.

Additionally, Proto-danksharding foresees the expiration of historical data storage in blob transactions after an average of 30 days, eliminating the need for large amounts of storage and opening the door to a new economic model where the full history will be available through third-party protocols.

In summary, the implementation of EIP-4844 will mean an increase in the number of transactions per second that Layer 2s can process and expand the size of their rollup data dumps, without increasing the cost of using Ethereum as temporary storage.

In a broader sense, EIP-4844 lays the groundwork for implementing Danksharding in the future. For more details, you can visit the official Ethereum website:

Danksharding | ethereum.org

How Does DVT (Distributed Validator Technology) Support Proto-danksharding?

It’s important to note that rollups inherit security from L1, so specialized entities will build blocks for both L1 and L2 solutions. However, as Vitalik pointed out in his Endgame, some degree of centralization is needed to scale.

To avoid compromising Ethereum L1’s security, it will become essential to keep power under control with decentralized and trustless validators. This is where we believe DVT solutions, like SafeStake, will play an important role. SafeStake aims to expand and diversify the Ethereum validator base and promote a more decentralized Ethereum.

With DVT, Ethereum can continue to provide settlement and data availability, while allowing L2 rollups to scale and relieve the transactional load, making it faster and easier to validate the chain fully.

Furthermore, a framework of decentralized validators in the new ‘blob’ ecosystem will allow nodes that aren’t capable of processing larger blocks to continue participating in consensus and contributing to decentralization.

Who Will Benefit from EIP-4844?

We believe the primary beneficiaries of Proto-danksharding and the improvements proposed in EIP-4844 are the end users, as the main result will be a significant reduction in transaction costs.

An added benefit of reducing fees is that arbitrageurs can correct smaller price discrepancies, attracting more users to DEXs by making them more liquid and less expensive to operate.

While not fully defined at the time of writing this article, the Proof of Validator proposal to make the data availability sampling (DAS) implementation more resistant to attacks could open up opportunities for a new economy of home stakers to use turnkey, decentralized solutions, like SafeStake..

Furthermore, the proposal for builder-proposer separation (PBS), on which Danksharding heavily relies, could help improve the average staker’s APY by distributing MEV fees in a better way.

Ultimately, making the Ethereum network more scalable promotes greater adoption, benefiting everyone in the ecosystem.

About SafeStake

SafeStake is a pioneering technology company focused on revolutionizing Ethereum staking. With its cutting-edge, decentralized Distributed Validator Technology (DVT), SafeStake provides an ultra-secure, fault-tolerant environment for Ethereum validators, maximizing staking rewards and minimizing penalties. SafeStake is committed to driving the growth, innovation, and decentralization of the Ethereum network while ensuring the security and prosperity of its participants.

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