Ethereum Pectra upgrade: What it means for ETH holders

Enhancing Ethereum's scalability, security and user experience ⚡️


  • The Ethereum Pectra upgrade will introduce significant changes, including enhancements in account abstraction, validator operations, and network performance.

  • Pectra aims to improve the Ethereum user and developer experience, setting the stage for future scalability upgrades with features like Verkle trees and efficient data handling.

  • Key updates include increased validator stake limits, flexible staking withdrawals, and streamlined smart contract deployment, all contributing to enhanced network efficiency and security.

Ethereum’s Prague/Electra (Pectra) upgrade will introduce significant changes to the network, notably around account abstraction, validator operations, and overall network performance. 

To enhance its functionality and progress, the Ethereum network periodically undergoes upgrades called hard forks. These upgrades require network participants to adopt a new version of the blockchain with updated rules. For example, the Shanghai-Capella upgrade in April 2023 allowed validators to withdraw their staked Ethereum from the Beacon Chain.

Expected to go live in late 2024 or early 2025, this is the third major upgrade to Ethereum since September 2022, when the Ethereum Merge activated.

⚠️     ⚠️     ⚠️

Due to the dynamic nature of Ethereum's development process, the exact block number and activation date are subject to change.

The Merge transitioned Ethereum from the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism to Proof-of-Stake (PoS).

The Shanghai upgrade, released in April 2023, allowed ETH validators to unlock their staked ETH within the network.

The Dencun upgrade, released in March 2024, introduced proto-danksharding with the aim to increase the speed of transactions on the network.

With Pectra, Ethereum will cater to a broad range of use cases and user needs that will enable regular Ethereum accounts to be more programmable, Layer 2 solutions (L2s) to be more affordable, smart contracts to be more efficient, and validators to be more flexible to manage.

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What is the Prague/Electra Ethereum upgrade? 🤷‍♂️


The Prague and Electra upgrades were initially penned to roll out separately, but were later combined into a single upgrade—Pectra—for better efficiency and synergy.

The Pectra upgrade comprises updates to both the execution layer (where smart contracts and dapps operate) and the consensus layer (where Proof of Stake mechanism lives) of the Ethereum network.

It is set to introduce 20 Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), including nine Standard EIPs, addressing specific features or functionalities, and one Meta EIP, which bundles together 11 additional EIPs for streamlined implementation.

Rationale for implementing Pectra upgrade

Pectra isn't just about rolling out immediate enhancements to Ethereum. It also works as a stepping stone toward a more significant transformation of the network's infrastructure. 

Pectra introduces several code changes while simultaneously laying the groundwork for the upcoming implementation of Verkle trees. 

Verkle trees are a type of data structure designed to optimize how Ethereum nodes store and access information. By introducing smaller, more efficient proofs for verifying data, Verkle trees promise to enhance scalability and reduce storage requirements, paving the way for a more efficient network.

A closer look at key changes 🔍


According to Ethereum.org, there are currently ten Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) included in the upcoming Pectra upgrade. 

It’s important to note that Ethereum’s developer community may decide to add or remove EIPs in the months leading up to activation, or split the Pectra upgrade into separate stages.

Pectra EIPs

  • EIP-2537: Precompile for BLS12-381 curve operations
  • EIP-2935: Save historical block hashes in state
  • EIP-6110: Supply validator deposits on chain
  • EIP-7002: Execution layer triggerable exits
  • EIP-7251: Increase the MAX_EFFECTIVE_BALANCE
  • EIP-7549: Move committee index outside Attestation
  • EIP-7594: PeerDAS - Peer Data Availability Sampling
  • EIP-7685: General purpose execution layer requests
  • EIP-7702: Set EOA account code for one transaction
  • EIP-7692: Meta EIP that includes:
    • EIP-663: SWAPN, DUPN and EXCHANGE instructions
    • EIP-3540: EOF (EVM Object Format) - EVM Object Format v1
    • EIP-3670: EOF - Code Validation
    • EIP-4200: EOF - Static relative jumps
    • EIP-4750: EOF - Functions
    • EIP-5450: EOF - Stack Validation
    • EIP-6206: EOF - JUMPF and non-returning functions
    • EIP-7069: Revamped CALL instructions
    • EIP-7480: EOF - Data section access instructions
    • EIP-7620: EOF Contract Creation

EIP-7698: EOF - Creation transaction

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key EIPs:

  • EIP-2935 – Enhances the process of verifying Ethereum's historical data by storing the hashes of recent blocks. This is a move towards stateless execution, where nodes won’t need to store the entire blockchain's history, further improving network efficiency.

  • EIP-7002 – Allows validators greater flexibility in managing their staked ETH. Thanks to EIP-7002, they can initiate withdrawals or partial withdrawals directly through their execution layer credentials, opening up possibilities for new staking strategies and improved liquidity.

  • EIP-7251 – Raises the maximum balance for validators from 32 ETH to 2048 ETH. This helps larger node operators consolidate their stake and reduces the overall number of validators needed. This simplification can enhance network efficiency and lower the computational burden on individual nodes.

  • EIP-7594 – Introduces PeerDAS mechanism to optimize Layer 2 (L2) solutions. By sampling data availability across peers, PeerDAS can streamline transaction processing and enhance the scalability of L2 networks, ultimately benefiting users with faster and cheaper transactions.

  • EIP-7692 – This Meta EIP is a bundle of 11 proposals focused on improving the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) Object Format (EOF) — a structure used to represent Ethereum smart contracts. By optimizing this format, EIP-7692 aims to make contract deployment and execution faster and more efficient, benefiting both developers and users.

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Pectra's impact on Ethereum 💥


The Pectra upgrade’s improvements of Ethereum across various dimensions will impact users, developers, and the overall network.

User experience

Pectra's emphasis on account abstraction promises to simplify the user experience, making Ethereum more accessible and intuitive. 

With the potential for smart contract wallets to become mainstream, users will have access to seamless gas abstraction (paying fees with any token), batched transactions, and customizable security options. These enhancements reduce friction and make interacting with Ethereum's decentralized applications (dApps) smoother.

Developer experience

Pectra introduces tools that streamline the development and deployment of smart contracts. For instance, the EVM Object Format (EOF) enhancements in EIP-7692 offer developers a more efficient way to structure their code, leading to faster and more cost-effective contract execution. 

Scalability

While not directly addressing Ethereum's scaling challenges, Pectra sets the stage for future scalability upgrades. By optimizing the network's infrastructure and improving transaction efficiency, it creates a foundation for more scalable solutions like Verkle Tree to be implemented more effectively.

Network security

Pectra prioritizes security by eliminating potential attack vectors and improving the verification and validation processes within the network. This multi-pronged approach aims to make Ethereum more resilient against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Ethereum Pectra FAQs 💬


Why might the Pectra upgrade be important for Ethereum holders?

The Pectra upgrade helps Ethereum holders in several ways:

  • Improved user experience: Spectra aims to make Ethereum more accessible and user-friendly for everyday users.

  • Enhanced security: The improvements are expected to strengthen the overall security of the network, protecting users' assets and data.

  • Increased efficiency: Optimizations to the EVM and other components will enhance the efficiency of transactions and smart contract execution, potentially leading to lower gas fees.

  • Future-proofing: Pectra lays the groundwork for future scalability upgrades which could help increase Ethereum's transaction throughput and reduce costs in the long run.

Will the Pectra upgrade impact Ethereum staking?

Yes, Pectra will have an impact on Ethereum staking:

  • Increased validator stake limit: EIP-7251 raises the maximum effective balance for validators, allowing them to control more stake without needing to run multiple validators. This could lead to consolidation among validators and potentially impact staking rewards.

  • Withdrawal Credentials: EIP-4788 simplifies the withdrawal process for staked ETH, potentially making staking more attractive to a wider range of users.

Will the Pectra upgrade affect ETH price?

The impact of Pectra on ETH price is uncertain and will depend on various factors. Ultimately, the long-term impact of Pectra on ETH price will depend on how well it delivers on its promises and how the market perceives its success in advancing Ethereum's goals. 

In summary, it’s anticipated that the Pectra upgrade will be a significant step forward for Ethereum, enhancing its user experience, developer tools, and network fundamentals. 

While some of its impact will not necessarily be immediately apparent, its true significance may lie in how it prepares Ethereum for future scalability upgrades. Further, Pectra aims to foster a more secure and user-friendly environment for Ethereum users to enjoy.

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