Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research October 31, 2023

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  • The Ethereum Shanghai upgrade is a hard fork of the Ethereum protocol
  • The upgrade, also known as "Shapella," was completed on April 12, 2023
  • The Ethereum Shanghai upgrade enabled staking withdrawals, allowing users to withdraw staked ether from the consensus layer to the execution layer
  • The upgrade also included several bug fixes and performance improvements


The Ethereum Shanghai upgrade is a hard fork of the Ethereum protocol. The primary objective of the upgrade was to enable withdrawals for users who staked Ethereum's native cryptocurrency, ether (ETH), to secure and validate transactions on the blockchain. The upgrade was completed on April 12, 2023 and also goes by the name "Shapella."

Before the Shanghai upgrade, staked ether was locked in a smart contract and could not be withdrawn, which was a significant disincentive for users to stake. The Shanghai upgrade changed this by enabling validators to withdraw staked ether at any time. This is a significant development for the Ethereum ecosystem, as it makes staking more accessible and attractive to a broader range of users.

A Brief History

The Ethereum Shanghai upgrade is the culmination of years of work by the Ethereum community. The idea of enabling validator withdrawals was first proposed in 2018, and the development team had been working on the implementation ever since. In 2020, the Ethereum community transitioned the network to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. This transition, known as "the Merge," was completed in September 2022.

In the PoS system, "validators" validate and process transactions on the Ethereum network. To become a validator, users must stake a certain amount of ether. When the Merge was completed, validators could not withdraw staked ether as a security measure to prevent malicious actors from withdrawing their stake and attacking the network. However, the development team always planned to enable validator withdrawals later.

In early 2023, the development team began to finalize the implementation of validator withdrawals, and the Shanghai upgrade was scheduled to be released in April 2023. The Shanghai upgrade was expected to be a significant milestone for the Ethereum ecosystem, as it would allow validators to exit the network at will and increase the liquidity of staked ether. The upgrade was expected to positively impact the network, promoting increased competition among staking providers and improved scalability and efficiency.

Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade: Everything to Know

The Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade is a hard fork of the Ethereum protocol completed on April 12, 2023. This upgrade was the first significant upgrade since the Merge in September 2022, which transitioned Ethereum to a PoS consensus mechanism. The Shanghai Upgrade's primary objective was to enable validator withdrawals, meaning that validators can now finally withdraw the ether staked to the network. This significant development makes staking more attractive and accessible to a broader range of people.

In addition to enabling validator withdrawals, the Shanghai Upgrade included several other technical improvements. For example, it introduced support for EIP-4895, which allows for the partial withdrawal of staked ether. This is a valuable feature for validators who must liquidate some of the staked ether without having to unstake completely.

The Shanghai Upgrade was designed to positively impact the Ethereum ecosystem in several ways. First, staking would be more attractive and accessible to a broader range of people, and this would help to increase the security and decentralization of the network. Second, the upgrade introduced several technical improvements to make Ethereum more efficient and scalable.

Getting Started

  • Understand the Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade. The Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade is a hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain. It is also known as Shapella and was bundled with "Capella," another upgrade related to staking withdrawals.
  • Update the Wallet. To participate in the recently-updated Ethereum platform, users need to update some wallets to the latest version that supports the upgrade. Users can check with wallet providers for instructions on updating wallets.
  • Stake Ether. Once wallets have been updated, users can stake ether and earn rewards. The Shanghai upgrade enabled more than eighteen million ether tokens worth approximately $34 billion to be withdrawable.
  • Withdraw Staked Ether. Users can withdraw staked ether after the lock-up period ends. The lock-up period is determined by the number of validators on the network, and varies from one validator to another.

Unique Aspects

  • Partial Withdrawals of Staked Ether. The Shanghai upgrade allowed stakers to withdraw a portion of staked ether, so they no longer need to wait until the entire network transitions to PoS. This was a significant improvement, giving stakers more flexibility and control over assets.
  • Increased Developer Adoption. Developer adoption of Ethereum is expected to increase because of the Shanghai upgrade, as the new features and improvements made Ethereum a more attractive platform for developers on which to build. Additionally, the ability to withdraw staked ether has made it easier for developers to fund projects.
  • Improved Validator Performance. The Shanghai upgrade included several improvements to validator performance, such as faster block processing times and reduced memory usage. This will make it easier and more efficient for people to run validators.
  • New EVM Features. The Shanghai upgrade included several new Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) features, such as support for dynamic memory allocation and a new operation code (opcode) for performing modular exponentiation. These new features made developing more complex and efficient smart contracts possible.
  • Enhanced Security. New security enhancements through the Shanghai upgrade included a new opcode for verifying Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) signatures. Additionally, it included a new mechanism for preventing denial-of-service attacks. These enhancements will help to make the Ethereum network more secure and resistant to attack.


  • Increased Liquidity for Stakes. The Shanghai upgrade allowed stakers to withdraw ether, thus increasing liquidity for stakers and making it easier for them to manage investments.
  • Improved Scalability. Several improvements were incorporated in the Shanghai upgrade to help improve the Ethereum network's scalability. For example, the upgrade introduced a new opcode for performing modular exponentiation, making smart contracts more efficient and reducing the associated gas required.
  • Enhanced Security. Security enhancements such as a new opcode for verifying ECDSA signatures and a new mechanism for preventing denial-of-service attacks was included in the Shanghai upgrade. These enhancements helped to make the Ethereum network more secure.
  • More Predictable Transaction Fees. Several changes designed to make transaction fees more predictable were included in the Shanghai upgrade. For example, the upgrade implemented EIP-1559, which introduces a fee-burning mechanism to help reduce the supply of ether and make transaction fees more predictable.
  • Increased Developer Adoption. Thanks to the Shanghai upgrade, it is now easier and cheaper for developers to deploy and run smart contracts on the Ethereum network. This is expected to lead to an increase in developer adoption and the development of new and innovative decentralized applications (dapps).


  • Increased Sell Pressure on Ether. One potential disadvantage of the Shanghai upgrade is that it could lead to increased sell pressure on ether. This is because stakers who have been locked up for a long time may be eager to sell, and this could lead to a drop in the price of ether, especially in the short term.
  • Potential for Centralization. Centralization of the Ethereum network is possible as a result of the Shanghai upgrade. This is because the upgrade reduced the minimum staking requirement, making it easier for many large investors to control most of the staked ether. This could give these investors significant influence over the Ethereum network.
  • Increased Complexity. The Shanghai upgrade is also likely to increase the complexity of the Ethereum network. This is because the upgrade introduced several new features and changes, and this increased complexity could make it more difficult for users to interact with the Ethereum network.
  • Potential for Security Vulnerabilities. Like any major software upgrades, the Shanghai upgrade has the potential to introduce new security vulnerabilities. Attackers could exploit these vulnerabilities to steal funds or disrupt the Ethereum network.