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Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum will probably never be much faster


Key Points Vitalik Buterin has clarified why Ethereum block time is unlikely to be made significantly faster in the future. Reducing block time, be it Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake, has implications in terms of decentralization and network security, according to Buterin. Other prominent cryptocurrency founders and developers have joined the discussion on Twitter. Share this article In a comment that might startle some Ethereum enthusiasts, Vitalik Buterin has expressed the opinion that Ethereum may never be much faster than it is now. He explained that reducing the blocking time was limited by the necessary trade-off with ‘security and decentralization’. Vitalik on Network Speed ​​Vitalik Buterin has suggested that the Ethereum blockchain is unlikely to get much faster, despite the planned upgrades. Buterin’s comments came yesterday in response to a Reddit user asking why switching from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake wouldn’t reduce block confirmation times. As with most blockchain-related issues, optimizing for one variable (e.g. speed) will likely come at the expense of another (e.g. network security). The tradeoff between speed (block time) and decentralization/security exists regardless of whether a network is Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake, albeit for different reasons. With Proof-of-Work, the “core problem,” according to Buterin, is the built-in randomness of block time. Ethereum may have an average block time of 13 seconds, but that doesn’t mean a block is written on the tip every 13 seconds. There’s a chance a new block will be validated just one second after the last one is confirmed, Buterin explains. When this happens, the miner with the better network connection is more likely to be the first to spread the next block. Reducing block times makes this problem much worse. With Proof-of-Stake, there is another factor at play. The version of Proof-of-Stake Ethereum takes, Buterin writes, requires blocks to get about 9,100 signatures per slot to be included, yielding a “very high level of confirmation after even just one slot.” Since the time required for that process is more logarithmic than linear, halving the slot time (which only took about 4,550 signatures) “wouldn’t work, because any now-shorter slot would still take nearly as long.” Reducing block times would result in many signatures being banned from the blockchain, and “highly centralized actors” would be in increasingly favorable positions to reap disproportionate rewards. Therefore, Buterin concludes that future upgrades will not significantly reduce “time per slot” and that applications requiring fast confirmation will have to rely on channels or rollups. Common developers from other Layer 1 chains also chimed in on the discussion on Twitter. The founder of Ava Labs, which developed Avalanche, Emi̇n Gün Si̇rer, tweeted at Buterin and appeared to criticize him for his choices of chain parameters, which Sirer believes is the sticking point. Buterin replied, telling Sirer to “stop being dishonest” and clarifying that his previous claims about consensus not being the bottleneck referred to bandwidth rather than latency. The discussion continued, and Anatoly Yakovenko, the co-founder of Solana Labs (developer of Solana) also weighed in with his own questions regarding signature requirements as a function of slot times. The Dogecoin co-founder also joined in the dialogue, asking Sirer why he named his “cryptocurrency after something that is falling.” Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. 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We strongly recommend that you consult a licensed investment advisor or other qualified financial professional if you are seeking investment advice on an ICO, IEO or other investment. We do not accept compensation in any form for analyzing or reporting ICOs, IEOs, cryptocurrency, currencies, tokenized sales, securities or commodities. See full terms and conditions. Vitalik Buterin Proposes EIP-4488 This week, Vitalik Buterin and Ethereum developer Ansgar Dietrichs co-authored a new Ethereum improvement proposal, called EIP-4488, which aims to reduce the gas costs of Ethereum Layer 2 scaling solutions. What’s Rare: A DAO for NFTs Once dismissed as a silly and expensive industry, NFT’s creators are giving access to global markets in a way never before possible, and it’s all thanks to blockchain. The well-known… Vitalik Buterin Proposes “Multidimensional EIP-1559” for E… Vitalik Buterin has published a new piece on Ethereum gas reimbursement markets. 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