ETH 1.x: A Fast Sync
The focus of ETH 1.x research is to move the current Ethereum chain towards the ‘stateless client’ paradigm, ultimately leading to a smooth transition into an Eth 2.0 Execution Environment. The upcoming call will involve collecting and organizing research topics, as well as planning a structured roadmap. The call is open to anyone and will take place on December 17th at 16:00 UTC. To join, please message Piper Merriam or James Hancock on the ethresear.ch forum.
This post serves as a recap of the progress made so far, providing a resource for those who are new to the Ethereum community, missed the Ethereum 1.x discussions, or need a refresher. We will briefly touch on the historical topics of research, saving a more detailed exploration of stateless clients and current research for a future post.
The journey begins with the realization that the final phase of the Ethereum roadmap, “Serenity”, would take longer to be ready than initially anticipated. In order to ensure the continued functionality of Ethereum until the comprehensive protocol upgrade to Serenity (Eth 2.0), the concept of Ethereum 1.x was born. Ethereum 1.x focuses on incremental upgrades to prolong the life of the current chain for 3-5 years.
The main problem lies in the gradual degradation of Ethereum’s performance and network health due to natural chain growth. Without 1.x efforts, Ethereum runs the risk of becoming more centralized, slower, and frustrating for users and developers. The goal is to avoid a scenario where these problems progressively worsen over time, ultimately hindering the network’s functionality.
The challenges at hand are related to the increasing size of the blockchain. We will cover them one by one:
1. Chain storage: The storage requirements for a full node in Ethereum continue to grow. While the current storage requirements are reasonable, the concern lies in the increasing cost of spinning up new full nodes. This contributes to fewer full nodes over time, making the ‘real’ blockchain less accessible to average users.
2. Block size and transaction throughput: The size of individual blocks and the gas limit determine the transaction throughput in Ethereum. Increasing the gas limit can boost throughput, but it also leads to more block uncles and escalates the chain storage problem.
3. State size and network performance: The state of Ethereum includes the memories of all smart contracts, account balances, and deployment statuses. As the total transaction volume increases, the state grows proportionally. This affects transaction processing and block verification, leading to slower performance and a heavier burden on client developers.
To address these challenges, core developers, contributors, and magicians have gathered both online and in-person to discuss potential solutions. Some proposals include modest optimizations, compression techniques, splitting the state, and more.
Overall, the goal of ETH 1.x research is to ensure the continued functionality and performance of the current Ethereum chain until the full transition to Serenity (Eth 2.0). By addressing the challenges posed by the growing blockchain, Ethereum can remain decentralized, efficient, and accessible to all.