On June 19, 2020, Ethereum raised the gas limit by 25% from 10 million to 12.5 million. In no less than two days, this new capacity was exhausted, returning block usage to 100%. This cat and mouse game between a higher gas limit and increased usage has occurred the last three times Ethereum has raised the gas limit. Evidently there is a real market demand to use Ethereum, but gas prices are prohibitive for most use cases. This is where Ethereum 2.0 comes in.
What does Ethereum 2.0 bring to the table? Simply put, it’s a multi-year plan to improve Ethereum’s scalability, security, and programmability, without compromising decentralization. Based on what Vitalik Butirin calls a “rollup-centric ethereum”, Ethereum will soon be able to scale up to around 3,000 transactions per second with rollups alone – without Eth2 – and up to 100,000 transactions per second once Ethereum 2.0 Phase 1 will be available, through the use of fragmented chains with data storage.
Related: Ethereum 2.0 Staking Explained
After experiencing the surge in gas tariffs this summer, which has sometimes even surpassed 450Gwei, it’s clear that scalability improvements can’t come soon enough. The upcoming improvements will not only significantly lower the barrier to entry of otherwise prohibitive smart contracts, but will also provide an entirely new range of opportunities for developers to combine Ethereum composable. “lego money“In ways that weren’t feasible before.
Another key feature of Ethereum 2.0 that is often overlooked is its increased security. The proof of participation offers various security guarantees compared to the proof of work. For example, if someone has the means to perform a 51% attack on a PoW network, they can continuously perform these attacks, even after the chain’s soft forks. Under PoS, validators are not only rewarded for acting honestly, but also penalized for attempting to cheat the network.
Related: Proof-of-stake or proof-of-work, that’s the problem
One such penalty in Eth2 is called a “cut”. Cut occurs when a validator is caught acting in a demonstrably destructive way. When this happens, the validator is forced to exit, penalizing part or all of his financial participation. The end result is that an attacker cannot attack the chain without incurring a significant financial loss. PoW does not have a financial disincentive in the protocol as effective.
Related: Smart Contracts Standard: Making DeFi Transactions on Ethereum Safer
Additionally, the Ethereum Foundation is creating a dedicated security team for Eth2 to ensure the robustness and security of the next update. This security commitment adds to the Least Authority’s Eth2 special audit and many others for Eth2 customers preparing for launch. One thing is clear: security continues to be a top priority during the transition process.
Not only will it be more difficult to attack the network thanks to disincentives like cutting, but the network will also have the potential to be more decentralized. Although most PoS chains have a limited number of validators, Ethereum 2.0 will activate with at least 16,384 validators staking their Ether (ETH). Additionally, PoW mining pools exist primarily to make income streams more consistent, but since this isn’t an issue with PoS, we’re less likely to end up with a handful of pools that control most of the network.
Related: Ethereum 2.0’s long and winding road to the launch of scalability
With this update, Eth2 clients will help ensure that all the benefits of Ethereum can be enjoyed on a myriad of devices, including resource-limited devices like old mobile phones and embedded devices, not just powerful smartphones and PCs.
Decentralization and non-censorship
Currently, many Ethereum-based services rely on Infura, a hosted Ethereum node cluster that provides scalable access to Ethereum. However, for the Ethereum ecosystem to be both secure and successful, Eth2 customers should make it an important long-term goal to replace all centralized elements, such as Infura, with decentralized alternatives. Doing so is both a matter of principle and a valuable way to strengthen the privacy and individual sovereignty of the Ethereum ecosystem in general.
As part of the Ethereum community, there is a need to lay the foundations for a network capable of supporting an entirely new set of innovative platforms and ideas. To achieve widespread adoption, Ethereum must be usable anywhere in the world, with the same speed and performance as today’s high-throughput networks. It also needs to be usable by anyone in the world, regardless of the hardware at their disposal, in a censorship-resistant way.
After this week’s confirmation for the December 1st launch and with the scaling rollup solutions improving by leaps and bounds every week, it’s finally time for Ethereum.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Corey Petty is the chief security officer of Status. Corey began his blockchain-focused research around 2012 as a personal hobby while doing his PhD. candidacy in computational chemical physics from Texas Tech University. He then co-founded The Bitcoin Podcast Network and still serves as the host of the flagship The Bitcoin podcast and a more technical show Hashing It Out. Corey left academia and entered the data science and blockchain security industry for a few years, attempting to fix vulnerabilities in ICS / SCADA networks before finding his form as Status’s head of security, where he remains today.