Ethereum miners (ETH) are currently voting to extend the block gas limit from 10,000,000 to 12,500,000 gas, according to a recent tweet from Bitfly, the parent company of the Ethermine group.
What is gas and the gas limit?
Gas is a unit that measures the amount of computational effort required to submit a transaction or perform other actions in the Ethereum block chain. It is called in Gwei, or extremely small fractions of ETH.
The block gas limit, in turn, is the threshold of gas that can be spent on transactions submitted within a block.
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How could this vote affect the network?
If the vote is in favour, it would theoretically increase the overall capacity of the network and reduce tariffs. Specifically, according to Bitfly’s calculations, the Bitcoin Lifestyle block chain would start processing about 44 transactions per second, while it currently handles 35 transactions per second on average. The firm referred to this increase in speed as a „major milestone for the community.
However, the increase in the gas limit also has some potential drawbacks. As the threshold gets bigger, it takes miners longer to process each block, resulting in the so-called „uncle block“ problem. It occurs when two different miners generate a block at the same time, and only one of these blocks is joined in the block chain, essentially resulting in additional work for the miners.
As Anton Bukov, CTO of 1inch, previously explained to Cointelegraph, there is also the possibility of overloading the nodes running the network:
„Operations that cost little gas but require a lot of resources can be used to attack nodes. …] If the transaction processing starts to take 10-15 seconds, the nodes will be completely stalled.
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Increases in the gas limit could also cause weaker nodes to leave the network, which could make it less decentralised. „That’s why the limit is raised so conservatively, and even then, it’s usually done after achieving some optimization results in the customer’s implementations,“ Bukov said at the time.
The community is divided on voting
The recent initiative has met with strong opposition from some members of the community. The developer of Core Ethereum, Péter Szilágyi, summarized the Bitfly tweet as follows:
„TL; DR: the Ethereum miners don’t care about the long-term health of the network or the DoS attacks.“
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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin also joined the discussion. According to him, about six weeks ago, a representative of the mining group Sparkpool ETH asked him if he supported the increase of the gas limit. He said no, citing Szilágyi’s views on the matter. Buterin’s position has apparently changed since then, as he wrote:
„Having said that, the last 6 weeks of high transaction fees have put genuine pressure on people, so I don’t blame them for this decision.“
Independent blockchain scalability researcher Georgios Konstantopoulos wrote that he is against further block size increases and „you should be too,“ he added:
„You are NOT scaling the system by increasing block size“.
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Bukov of 1inch, on the other hand, seems to favour the initiative of the miners. He told Cointelegraph:
„You should be concerned about the convenience of the network for the community rather than the acceleration of the state’s growth in the longer term. Otherwise, the competitiveness of Ethereum is affected, and more projects start to consider migration to forked chains or other networks.