Shanghai upgrade to allow ETH withdrawals could launch in March 2023

Ethereum core devs are targeting March for the next hard fork called “Shanghai” that would enable users to get their ETH back, agree to make sacrifices to prioritize withdrawals.

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“This is clearly the highest priority for everybody,” Tim Beiko, who runs the core protocol meetings for Ethereum, said on December 8, during the last All Core Devs call of this year.

In a Thursday meeting, Ethereum developers determined that the next network upgrade should prioritize staked ETH withdrawals from Beacon Chain, even at the cost of other improvement proposals included in Shanghai.

“I started by stating what I thought was the main thing everyone agreed on: that withdrawals should be prioritized and be delivered relatively quickly. That seemed to be the emergent consensus over the past ACD [All Core Devs] and CL [Consensus Layer] call last week,” Beiko noted in a rundown thread on Twitter.

When the network transitioned from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake consensus model in September, it replaced the power-hungry GPUs called "miners" with much lighter and energy-efficient "validators." To activate validator software and earn yield for securing the blockchain, one should be able to deposit 32 ETH (about $41,000 at the time of writing). But there is one hitch: validators are unable to withdraw their coins, as there is simply no such functionality in the protocol yet.

Read Also: Ethereum enters the proof-of-stake era. What’s next?

According to crypto data analytics platform Dune, some 15.57 million ETH — nearly 13 percent of the circulating supply — are currently locked in the Beacon Chain deposit contract. So it comes as no surprise that ETH staking timeframe is the most sensitive issue for the Ethereum community. In November, Ethereum devs faced harsh criticism from crypto Twitter for moving the estimated time for the unlock.

Given the community sentiment, Ethereum developers agreed to exclude EIP-4844 from the Shanghai upgrade as it is likely to slow its ability to be released in March. This proposal, also known as proto-danksharding, or the Surge, will be implemented after Shanghai and is expected to drive a roughly 100x increase in Ethereum L2 transaction throughput.

Along with withdrawals, devs also agreed to roll out a set of other EIPs with Shanghai, including Warm Coinbase (EIP-3651), PUSH0 instruction (EIP-3855), Limit and meter init code (EIP-3860), and EVM Object Format (EOF).

Warm Coinbase (no, it has nothing to do with the popular centralized exchange) will significantly reduce the fees for builders interacting with Coinbase address. Since the first interaction costs more to “warm up” the software, it disproportionately affects builders, the key network participants who are responsible for packaging Ethereum transactions into blocks. EIP-365 will keep Coinbase warm from the start, thus reducing gas fees.

EOF will introduce updates to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), a software that executes smart contracts and stores data on the blockchain. Changes will include new operation codes, new EVM contract format, and code/data separations. Still, there’s a possibility that EOF will be delayed too, unless all client development teams are ready to test their code at the next hands-on meeting on January 5.

However, it’s worth noting that despite all sacrifices, the timing of the upgrade could still shift, as Ethereum devs are known for delaying things by months and years to ensure everything goes smoothly.

The second All Core Devs call is scheduled for January 19, 2023.