Ethereum All Core Developers Consensus Call #118 Writeup
On September 21, 2023, Ethereum developers gathered over Zoom for All Core Developers Consensus (ACDC) call #118. Chaired by Ethereum Foundation Researcher Danny Ryan, the ACDC calls are a bi-weekly meeting series where developers discuss and coordinate changes to the consensus layer (CL) of Ethereum. This week, the ACDC call was short, lasting roughly 30 minutes in duration, and developer primarily discussed preparations for Devnet-9.
Devnet-9 will be the 2nd testnet featuring the full suite of code changes going into the Cancun/Deneb (Dencun) upgrade. Prior devnets were focused on testing Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 4844. Devnet-9 will also be the first testnet to feature the activation of EIP 7514 and 7516, two new EIPs that were added to the Cancun/Deneb upgrade during last week’s ACD call. Parithosh Jayanthi, a DevOps Engineer at Ethereum Foundation, said that his team would be ready to launch Devnet-9 next Wednesday, September 27.
Many Execution Layer (EL) and CL clients teams on the call, including Lodestar, EthereumJS, Lighthouse, and Geth, affirmed that they would be ready for this launch. Representatives from Besu and Nethermind said that they were in the process of conducting Hive tests on their Devnet-9 releases and could give an update on their readiness for the Devnet-9 launch early next week. Jayanthi agreed to check in with client teams early next week. He also highlighted that Devnet-9 could launch without all clients being ready. “We can still start the devnet as long as we have at least a couple of clients ready and we can add the rest post [launch],” said Jayanthi on the call.
Ryan highlighted that a few Dencun-related tests were broken and developers have since issued a hot fix to the “consensus-spec-tests” code repository to fix these tests. He also raised a potential change to an endpoint, “blockv3”, used for block production between the validator client and the beacon node. Enrico Del Fante from the Teku client team said that there was still discussion among developers about a previous change that would override this change to the blockv3 endpoint. Later in the call, Del Fante shared instances of configuration mismatches between the validator client and the beacon node and the way Teku resolves these issues. Del Fante agreed to post a new issue on the Beacon API GitHub repo to summarize this matter.
On the topic of Devnet-9, developers spent time discussing the deployment strategy for EIP 4788. As background, EIP 4788 will be deployed as a regular smart contract, meaning there must be a contract address that client implementations can reference to activate the code change. Developers agreed to test out the process for contract deployment through the launch of Devnet-9 by creating the address after the genesis of the testnet and before the activation of the upgrade. Mario Vega from the Ethereum Foundation testing team said that the contract address for EIP 4788 has not yet been finalized but once it is, client teams will need to update their releases to contain the address information.
Developers also discussed the deployment of a trusted setup for EIP 4844 on Devnet-9. As background, the verification of blobs on Ethereum relies on a secret value generated one-time through a multi-party ceremony. The ceremony for EIP 4844 ran from January to August 2023 and received more than 140,000 contributions. For more information about the trusted setup ceremony for EIP 4844, read this Galaxy Research report.
Ethereum Foundation Researcher Carl Beek is working on converting the results from the ceremony into a standardized format for implementation on Ethereum testnets and mainnet. Beek said that timing is “very tight” for him to complete the work by next Wednesday. Jayanthi said that in the event Beek’s work is not ready for the Devnet-9, developers can fall back on using an untrusted setup in the interim. Vega said that depending on the setup used, there may be updates to Hive tests required for clients.
Tim Beiko, chair of the ACDE calls, raised questions about the timeline for Dencun testing after Devnet-9. “I think it’s worth it, assuming the launch of Devnet-9 goes well, to think about how we want to approach [public] testnet deployment,” said Beiko, adding that if developers do not foresee launching Dencun on a public testnet before Devconnect, that is an Ethereum-focused developer conference in November 2023, then mainnet activation of Dencun most likely would not happen this year.
On ACDE #169, Beiko had recommended launching Dencun on the following testnets in the following order: Holesky, Goerli, and then, Sepolia. Holesky is a new testnet that Ethereum developers plan on launching next Thursday, September 28. Developers initially planned the launch of Holesky for September 15, the one-year anniversary of the Merge upgrade. However, due to network misconfigurations, the testnet launch failed.
On this week’s call, Jayanthi made the case to launch Dencun first on Goerli before Holesky since Goerli is a testnet that will soon be deprecated. This means that developers can freely experiment with changes to Dencun specification such as a change on the maximum/target blob limit per block from 2/4 to 3/6 since the consequences of experimenting on a deprecated testnet like Goerli are lower than on a long-lived network like Holesky. Jayanthi said, “I’d still make the case for Holesky not being the first fork but rather potentially the second or third mainly because we have Goerli as a perfectly functioning testnet that is deprecated, which means we can try out the three/six blob option on Goerli and if it goes badly, it’s a deprecated testnet anyways. If it goes badly on Holesky, then we have to figure out how to save it.”
Beiko and Del Fante were both in favor of testing Dencun on Goerli before Holesky. Many developers on the call were also in favor of launching Dencun on a public testnet before Devconnect.