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Vitalik Buterin Announces Further Development of Ethereum ‘Purge’

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin recently took to X to outline the upcoming phases of the protocol’s simplification efforts, codenamed “The Purge.”

This initiative aims to streamline the Ethereum protocol by reducing historical data storage requirements. This will lessen the burden on node operators’ hard drives and significantly lower the technical debt associated with the protocol.

In simpler terms, “The Purge” is a project to slim down Ethereum and address accumulated technical issues. Buterin’s announcement hints at the existence of additional Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) that share the same goal of simplification.

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Unveils “The Purge” to Streamline Blockchain Protocol

A quick note on next steps in Ethereum protocol simplification and node resource load decreases (aka “the Purge”):https://t.co/BAebCGrisB

— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) April 1, 2024

In the recent report, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin highlighted the implementation of Ethereum Improvement Protocol (EIP)-6780 during the Dencun hard fork, which significantly simplified the Ethereum protocol by reducing the functions of the “SELFDESTRUCT” code and enhancing security measures.

One of the critical changes post-EIP-6780 is the introduction of a maximum number of storage slots that can be edited in a single block, roughly determined by the gas limit divided by 5000. Buterin expressed optimism that future EIPs would eliminate the SELFDESTRUCT function, further enhancing the network’s security and efficiency.

Source: Vitalik Buterin

“The Purge,” as Buterin referred to it, also involves comprehensive cleanup efforts within the Geth Ethereum client aimed at removing redundant code following the transition from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). Recent Ethereum Improvement Proposals have also contributed to enhancing how empty accounts are managed, improving overall code efficiency.

Also, as one of the primary objectives of The Purge is to optimize data storage on the Ethereum blockchain, EIP-4444, introduced during the Dencun upgrade, introduces the concept of “blobs” for specific data storage, reducing long-term storage requirements and facilitating easier node participation. The proposal also suggests automatically removing older blocks after a designated time, further reducing storage needs.

Buterin emphasized that The Purge would enhance Ethereum’s node decentralization by distributing historical data more effectively across the network. He noted that while not all nodes would store complete historical data, solutions like block explorers and decentralized peer-to-peer networks are being explored to ensure accessibility.

Furthermore, The Purge includes plans to evaluate and optimize precompile Ethereum contracts and introduce a new data structure called SimpleSerialize (SSZ) to replace the current block structure, simplifying data usage and development processes.

Vitalik Raises Concerns Over Complex Layer 2 Scaling Solutions


On December 30, 2023, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin updated the Ethereum roadmap, highlighting significant progress in Surge (rollup scaling) initiatives, including EIP-4844 and advancements in rollup technologies. He also emphasized the need for long-term improvements in cross-rollup standards and interoperability to enhance Ethereum’s ecosystem.

Honestly I’m about 3x less confident in the “simplify L1 even at the expense of more complicated L2s” concept than I was five years ago. The challenge is that when you can trade off between L1 bug risk and L2 bug risk, it’s not actually clear that the latter is better!

— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) February 21, 2024

However, Buterin recently voiced concerns about overly complicated Layer 2 scaling solutions in blockchain ecosystems. He took to social media to underscore the potential risks associated with complex Layer 2 networks and urged for a more balanced approach to development.

In the blockchain community, there’s a prevailing belief that Layer 1 networks should prioritize simplicity to minimize critical bugs and attack vectors. This approach delegates more complex features to Layer 2 networks, which specialize in providing scaling solutions.

Buterin highlighted the gravity of critical bugs in Layer 2 networks, stating that while Layer 1 blockchains can recover relatively quickly from consensus failures, such failures in Layer 2 could lead to a permanent loss of user funds. He cautioned against the increasing complexity of Layer 2 solutions and the risks they pose.

Proposing an alternative strategy, Buterin suggested enhancing Layer 1 networks with sophisticated features to ease the burden on Layer 2 networks, allowing them to remain reasonably simple. By reducing complexity, the risks of critical bugs and security vulnerabilities could be mitigated, safeguarding user funds and improving system reliability.

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