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Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin: It’s Highly Likely That It Will Never Be Faster

Vitalik Buterin has said that Ethereum may never be as fast as it is right now, which may terrify some Ethereum devotees. He explained that “safety and decentralisation” have to be sacrificed in order to reduce block time.

Networking Speed: Vitalik’s Perspective

Despite Ethereum’s planned upgrades, according to Vitalik Buterin, the blockchain is unlikely to get any faster.

In answer to a Reddit user’s question on why switching from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake would not lower block confirmation times, Buterin made the following statement yesterday:

When it comes to blockchain issues, optimising for one characteristic (such as speed) almost often means sacrificing another (e.g. network security). Regardless of whether a network is Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake, the tradeoff between speed (block time) and decentralization/security exists, albeit for different reasons.

The “fundamental difficulty” with Proof-of-Work, according to Buterin, is the unpredictability incorporated into block time. The average block time on Ethereum could just be 13 seconds; however, this does not mean that a block is written exactly every 13 seconds. Buterin argues that there is a small chance that a new block will be certified just one second after the previous one has been confirmed. When this occurs, the miner with the superior network connection has a higher probability of being the first to propagate the next block of transactions. This problem is exacerbated significantly when block times are shortened.

Different factors come into play when it comes to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). “Very high level of confirmation after even one slot” is how Buterin describes the version of Proof-of-Stake Ethereum that will be implemented, requiring blocks to gain around 9,100 signatures per slot to be included. When only 4,550 signatures are needed, cutting the slot time in half “would not work, because each now-shorter slot would still take almost as long,” because of the process’ logarithmic rather than linear time requirements.” “Highly centralised actors” would be in an increasingly advantageous position to earn large benefits if block times were reduced, resulting in the exclusion of many signatures from the blockchain.

The future updates will not reduce “per-slot time,” according to Buterin, thus apps that require speedy confirmation will have to rely on channels or rollups. [page needed]

Other Layer 1 chain developers also joined the conversation on Twitter. Emin Gün Sirer, the founder of Ava Labs, which developed Avalanche, tweeted to Buterin, seemingly criticising him for his choice of chain parameters that Sirer argues makes consensus the bottleneck. When Sirer retorted, Buterin told him to “stop being dishonest” and made it clear that he was referring to bandwidth rather than delay when he said that consensus was not the bottleneck.

Solana developer Anatoly Yakovenko, a co-founder of Solana Labs, chimed in with his own queries about the signature requirements in relation to slot times as the discussion progressed. Co-founder of Dogecoin, Dogecoin’s other co-founder, joined the conversation and asked Sirer why he called his “cryptocurrency after something that falls.”


Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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