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Ethereum’s Buterin Gas Limit Hike Riles up Developers and Can Impact You With Slower Speeds

Last Updated January 12, 2024 11:16 AM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated January 12, 2024 11:16 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Vitalik Buterin has proposed a significant increase in the gas limit, to improve the network’s throughput.
  • ETH developers are navigating a balance between enhancing transaction capacity and controlling the state’s growth.
  • They are working on various solutions to address these challenges, including EIP-4444 and EIP-4844.

Ethereum developers are currently grappling with a contentious proposal  from the network’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, to increase the gas limit by 33%.

This suggestion has raised concerns due to the potential impact on the growing size of the blockchain state.

Ethereum Proposals Gas Limit Increase to Boost Throughput

Ethereum, the second-largest blockchain, finds itself at a pivotal juncture with this proposal. On January 11, Buterin proposed boosting the gas limit  from its current level of 30 million to 40 million. This is intended to improve the network’s throughput, allowing for more transactions per block and thus expanding the network’s overall capacity.

Buterin said : “Honestly, I think doing a modest gas limit increase even today is reasonable.”

The concept of a gas limit in Ethereum has been a dynamic feature since the platform’s launch in 2015. Originally set at approximately three million, the limit has been periodically adjusted upwards to accommodate the network’s increasing usage and the broader adoption of Ethereum (ETH).

However, this latest proposal is a significant leap and is sparking debate among developers over its potential implications.

ETH gas prices
Credit: Etherscan

The Ethereum blockchain state, which is vital for storing account balances and smart contract data, currently requires about 267 gigabytes (GB) of storage space. The entire history of the blockchain is even more substantial, amounting to around 900GB, as per data from Blockchair .

Concerns over Gas Limit Increase, Highlighting Challenges of Scaling

Nonetheless, Buterin’s proposal to increase the limit has encountered some resistance. This is primarily due to concerns about its impact on the size of the blockchain’s state.

Ethereum developer Marius van der Wijden articulated  these apprehensions in a January 11 blog post. In his post , van der Wijden noted that, while storage space might be relatively affordable, an expanded state size could potentially slow down accessing and modifying data on the blockchain.

Van der Wijden underscored the necessity for clear and effective solutions to manage the state’s growth.

The proposed increase brings with it several technical challenges. These include extended time for synchronizing the blockchain and complexities in developing and maintaining diverse clients.

Péter Szilágyi, a team lead for Ethereum, echoed concerns  that a higher gas limit might demand more bandwidth. He pointed out the significant trade-offs associated with a higher gas limit. While it could indeed boost the network’s transaction capacity, it also risks accelerating the growth of the state size.

This could lead to slower synchronization times and heighten the risks of network attacks and spam, presenting a complex balancing act for the Ethereum community. These concerns reflect the ongoing challenges faced in scaling blockchain networks while ensuring their security and efficiency.

Devs Seek Scalability Solutions Amid Gas Limit Debate

The gas limit on Ethereum acts as a threshold for the amount of computational work – denoted as gas – that can be included in each block, encompassing transactions and smart contract executions. This limit is vital for maintaining manageable block sizes, which is essential for the network’s optimal performance.

Validators, who are responsible for creating new blocks, have the discretion to tweak the gas limit, albeit within specified bounds. This flexibility allows for some adaptability in the network’s capacity.

Increasing the gas limit is seen as a potential way to enhance Ethereum’s throughput and capacity. However, this approach comes with its own set of challenges, including heightened stress on network hardware and possible security vulnerabilities.

To address these and other long-term growth issues, Ethereum developers are working on various solutions . Notable among these are Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) like EIP-4444 , which proposes mechanisms for expiring chain history, and EIP-4844, which focuses on enhancing rollup data availability through the use of “blobs.” These proposed upgrades are part of the ongoing efforts to ensure Ethereum’s scalability and efficiency while managing the network’s expanding needs.

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