• What Ethereum’s Buterin has to say about block time being “significantly reduced in the future.”

  • Scaling, or the lack thereof, has been a major issue with the Ethereum network. While several plans to increase the platform’s throughput are in the works, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has not shied away from pointing out its shortcomings.

    Buterin stated in response to a Reddit thread that decreasing the block time could result in nodes with better network connections. All while enjoying an unfair economic advantage over their less fortunate counterparts. This could result in “risks leading to the centralization of Ethereum mining or staking.”

    The block time is the amount of time it takes for nodes or validators to verify transactions within a new block and then add them to the blockchain of the network.

    Buterin explained that the problem with decreasing the block time in the Proof of Work scenario is that the time is assigned at random. This creates a window in which blocks can be validated that are very close together. As a result, those with a faster network connection will have an advantage in propagating their own blocks.

    Now, in longer block times, this is negligible, especially since uncle blocks are still rewarded. Uncle blocks on Ethereum are those that are mined and submitted to the ledger around the same time as a validated block.

    Proof of Stake, on the other hand, is a different story, according to the co-founder. For Ethereum to be included in the next one, it needs thousands of signatures, which is currently around 9100. This significantly reduces the possibility of reducing block time because several signatures required for validation may not be recorded on-chain and thus will not be rewarded.

    Again, those with more connections would have an advantage in the validation process. As a result, the network’s decentralization ethos is sacrificed.

    Notably, while Buterin does not anticipate “significantly reduced per-slot time in the future,” a solution could be found in “single-slot finality.” He stated,

    “…rather than just strongly confirming a transaction, a single slot would actually finalize it.” Applications that require extremely fast confirmations must rely on channels or rollups with sequencers providing pre-confirmation.”

    He also revealed that the protocol is developing a mechanism that will provide “strong assurance after only a few seconds that some transaction will be included in either the next or another near-future block.”

    This is not the first time Ethereum’s maestro has alluded to the limitations that even blockchain technology can impose.

    Buterin previously stated that “there are significant and quite subtle technical factors that limit blockchain scaling.” Particularly if node equality and decentralization are to be preserved.

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