Scaling, or the lack of it, has been a big problem with the Ethereum network. While there are various plans to increase the throughput of the platform, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has not shied away from highlighting its limitations.
In a response to a Reddit thread, Buterin emphasized that reducing block time could lead to nodes with better network connections. And that while they have an unfair economic advantage over their less fortunate peers. This could result in “risks leading to Ethereum mining or staking centralization.”
The block time is the time it takes for nodes or validators to verify transactions within a new block and then add them to the network’s blockchain.
The problem with reducing block time in the Proof of Work scenario is that the time is allocated randomly, Buterin said. This creates a window where blocks can be validated very close to each other. This gives those who have a faster network connection an advantage in distributing their own blocks.
Now this is negligible at longer block times, especially since uncle blocks are still rewarded. Uncle blocks on Ethereum are mined and submitted to the ledger at about the same time as a validated block.
However, Proof of Stake is a different game according to the co-founder. Ethereum requires thousands of signatures, currently around 9,100, after all to be included in the next one. This significantly reduces the possibility of reducing block time, as it could mean that several signatures required for validation are not chained and thus not rewarded.
Again, this would give those with better connections an upper hand in the validation process. As a result, the network’s decentralization ethos is sacrificed.
Notably, while Buterin doesn’t expect “time per slot to be much reduced in the future”, a solution could be found in “one slot finality”. He said,
“… a single lock would actually complete a trade rather than just forcefully confirming it as is now the case. Applications that really need quick confirmations should rely on channels or rollups with sequencers that pre-attach.”
He further revealed that the protocol builds a mechanism to “provide strong assurance after just a few seconds that a transaction will be included in the next or another block in the near future.”
This isn’t the first time the Ethereum maestro has highlighted the limitations even blockchain technology can bring.
In the past, Buterin had noted that “there are important and quite subtle technical factors that limit blockchain scaling.” Especially if node equality and decentralization are to be maintained.
This post What Ethereum’s Buterin has to say about block time ‘being reduced a lot in the future’
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