Home of Blobs and Beats

With by Philippe and Dave


What is is a website that demonstrates fun use-cases of blobs on post-Dencun chains. While the main idea is to scale Ethereum with L2s, they are in fact just arbitrary data that can be stored on chain, and can thus be used for diverse experiments.

Which chains support Dencun?

The two first chains that are enabling Dencun so far are:

  • Gnosis Chain on March 11th, 2024
  • Ethereum on March 13th, 2024

How much data can blobs store?

Blobs can store 131,072 bytes, although not each of those can be used, as each FIELD_ELEMENT (4096 bytes) needs to be smaller than BLS_MODULUS, as described in EIP-4844. In practise, this is currently often achieved by setting the most significant byte to 0. This is not very efficient as it wastes some space, but doing otherwise would require more processing and will likely be optimized later down the line.

Gnosis Chain produces one block every 5 seconds, and targets one blob per block, meaning that each block can now store roughly 125kB of additional data. This represents roughly 2.16 GB per day.

Doesn't this significantly worsen state bloat?

The whole point of Blob is that they are ephemeral. In practise, data is automatically discarded after about two weeks for both Ethereum and Gnosis Chain. This means that, on Gnosis Chain, nodes have to store at most around 30 GB of additional data since Dencun. That storage will constantly be recycled as old blobs automatically get deleted.

How do blobs work?

Blobs are a new type of transaction (type 3), that can do everything classic transactions can do as well, except they can upload blobs in addition. To do so, one has to create a blob that is exactly 131,072 bytes long, generate the KZG commitments, derive the versioned hashes and calculate proofs. An example of this procedure can be found in the source code of this website.

As blobs are merely an extension to normal transactions, and can thus do whatever normal transactions can do as well, it is also possible to interact with contracts while creating blobs.

How can one retrieve the content of blobs?

This is a bit tricky. Indeed, until Dencun all data was always fetched through the RPC of an execution layer client. However, blobs live in the consensus layer, otherwise known as the beacon chain. This means that providers will now have to provide publicly accessible beacon chain nodes, which wasn't typically the case in the past.

To fetch the content of a blob, one has to call the /eth/v1/beacon/blob_sidecars/{slot} endpoint with the slot number the blob was created in. To get that slot number, one has to know at which timestamp the transaction was mined, and then simply apply the following formula: (TX_TIMESTAMP - GENESIS_TIMESTAMP) / SLOTS_PER_SECOND. For example, on Gnosis Chain the genesis of the beacon chain is 1638993340, and the chain produces 5 slots per seconds.

How does on-demand audio work?

Audio streaming is achieved by cutting an audio file in many pieces that can fit in a blob, so around 125kB. We chose the Opus coding format to achieve this, and can fit around 14 seconds of audio in a blob, with a 16kHz sampling rate and 64kbps bitrate on two channels, which in our opinion is a good compromise between size and audio quality.

These pieces are then published as blobs on a smart contract, whose only purpose is to provide an efficiently quieriable event source, so that the website can actually know that blobs have been created for its consumption. This contract can be found here, and comes with built-in authentication. Each podcast is this its own smart contract, on which the owner can add blobs as pieces of the audio stream. It also checks that the transaction does in fact contain a blob, so that no event is mistakenly emitted without there being an attached blob.

How does audio live streaming work?

Although not currently showcased, live streaming is also entirely possible thanks to the very same technology used for on-demand audio. The most important part is to make sure that audio can be delivered fast enough. This is fairly trivial on an empty chain, as blobs can store around 14 seconds of good quality audio, and there is at least one blob every 5 seconds. This means that even by missing 60% of the blobs it should still be possible to stream real-time audio with a fairly low latency (~15 seconds).

For more congested chains it's still possible to make some compromises, like single channel audio with much lower bitrate for example. However, for congested chains, this would likely still be way too expensive.

How does the gallery work?

All in all it's quite similar to the on-demand audio streaming part as well. The only difference is that the smart contract allows anyone to post blobs to it (instead of just the owner), and that the blob is interpreted differently.

The complicated part mostly creating blobs from inside the browser. Thankfully, the Ethereum Foundation provides great libraries for this use-case with their @ethereumjs npm packages.

Why does this website require a local wallet?

It is currently impossible to post blobs on-chain with browser extension wallets. This comes from the fact that eth_sendTransaction doesn't support the network format of Blobs. The only way to post blobs on-chain is thus to sign them directly in the browser and to post them using eth_sendRawTransaction, thus requiring a private key to be exposed directly to the browser and website.

Of course, this is a huge security risk, which is why we only support an automatically generated address that you can fund with a small amount of native tokens. Expect to lose them and please don't send big amounts! On Gnosis Chain and Chiado, you can use the previded faucets to get enough xDAI to get you started, assuming the network isn't too congested.