Vitalik Buterin reveals plans for continued advancement of Ethereum ‘Purge’

Vitalik Buterin reveals plans for continued advancement of Ethereum 'Purge'

Following ETH’s declines, which had a 6.5% adverse effect on the entire cryptocurrency market, Ethereum whales and sharks have anxiously awaited new developments on the Ethereum chain. The announcement by Vitalik Buterin of new Ethereum ‘Purge’ upgrades was nothing short of a miracle that hit sweet to all ears.

EIP-6780 Will Limit ‘’SELFDESTRUCT’’ Feature

The new EIP from the recent Dencun hard fork is the brand new EIP-6780, one of the less common EIPs among the others. This EIP disables much of the functionality of the opcode “‘SELFDESTRUCT,” which is used to enable an unbounded number of state objects to be rebuilt in a single block. The opcode, formerly known as SUICIDE, debuted in the Ethereum protocol in December 2013, marking a significant milestone in the history of Ethereum.

Computer scientist Andrew Miller, notable for his Gas Model and review of Ethereum’s economics, pointed out in a 2014 observation the vulnerability of externally owned accounts (EOAs) to replay attacks in the December 2013 specification. Adding nonces, which were not resettable, eliminated any possibility of completely eradicating EOAs. However, in 2015, Vitalik proposed a secure deletion of accounts that transfer their entire ETH holdings. Nevertheless, it became evident that virtually no contract developers were actively utilizing the self-destruct feature. Therefore, by the end of 2021, it was evident that an alternative state management method, such as partial statelessness or renting, was required.  

Due to the unique nature of the ‘SELFDESTRUCT’ opcode, which alters an unlimited number of state objects in a single block, transitioning to a different state storage format in the future presented a challenge. Every other opcode operates on individual values in accounts or individual keys in storage trees. This resulted in a limit on the number of modified fixed-size objects, typically one object per opcode call. Unfortunately, ‘SELFDESTRUCT’ managed to delete an entire storage tree.

“The Purge” to Simplify Blockchain Protocol

“The Purge,” involves thorough cleanup work within the Geth Ethereum client focused on removing repetitive code after the Proof-of-Work (PoW) transition to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). Latest Ethereum Improvement Proposals enhance the management of empty accounts, polishing code efficiency.

According to Buterin,  The Purge will enhance node decentralization of Ethereum by effective distribution of historical data throughout the network. He further added that not all nodes but decentralized peer-to-peer networks and block explorers may store entire historical data.

Besides, The Purge aims for data storage optimization on EIP-4444. This may also remove old blocks after a defined period, freeing up storage. 

Security Modifications are on the Way

In the previous tree construction method, this was tolerable. Nevertheless, it called for the creation of caches with particular layouts. It added complexities to handle the potential scenario of a ‘SELFDESTRUCT’ operation deleting multiple storage slots. It then created a contract at the same address to read those same storage slots in a later transaction. 

EIP-6780 presents two additional invariants that enhance the execution of opcode ‘SELFDESTRUCT.’ This opcode is responsible for terminating the contract that invokes it and erasing its code and storage. The new invariants will also restrict the editing of storage slots in a single block and ensure that contracts with non-empty codes at the start and end of transactions or blocks have a non-null code. Moreover, Ethereum casino sites have experienced direct positive impacts in terms of security. For instance, EIP-6780 introduces security upgrades to prevent reentrancy attacks, common on Ethereum infrastructures. This feature of Ethereum will offer users a secure and seamless gambling experience.

This change was useful and necessary because EIP-6780 ensures that implementation of Verkle trees gets trickier and deals with the unique case where contract code changes from not-empty to empty ‘SELFDESTRUCT.’ This will increase the difficulty of utilizing transaction verification in account abstraction wallets without exposing them to DoS attacks, providing the necessary additional layer of security. The invariants make developing Ethereum casino sites and any other infrastructure much easier. One can hope that future EIPs will provide swifter and better network security.

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