Before transition to ETH 2.0: Vitalik Buterin presents roadmap for Ethereum scalability


The Ethereum developers have long worked on a smooth transition to the Ethereum 2.0 Proof-of-Stake (PoS) network. The need for Ethereum 2.0 is becoming more and more urgent as the Ethereum blockchain faces major scaling problems in view of the skyrocketing DeFi activity.

On December 6th, Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin presented his “plausible roadmap” for the scalability of the existing Ethereum network, which should lead to the complete transition to Ethereum 2.0. Buterin wants to achieve Ethereum scalability while maintaining high standards for trustworthiness and censorship resistance.

In his blog post entitled “Endgame”, Buterin explains his idea for an average blockchain while maintaining the central principles, trust and lack of censorship. The price of better scalability, however, is centralizing block production.

Scalability roadmap for Ethereum

In his blog post, Buterin describes a possible balance between scalability and centralization. He does not present a one hundred percent solution for this, but does mention four important points in order to achieve scalability. This includes:

  1. Adding a second level of staking with low resource requirements to perform distributed block validation
  2. Introduction of either fraud evidence or ZK-SNARKs so that users can check the validity of blocks directly and inexpensively.
  3. Introduction of data availability samples so that users can check the availability of blocks.
  4. Adding secondary transaction channels to prevent censorship.

In the blog post, Buterin goes on to explain how these four points can be achieved. However, despite the implementation of these updates, block production will not be fully decentralized.
Buterin notes:

“We get a chain in which the block production is still centralized, but the block validation is trustworthy and highly decentralized, and special anti-censorship measures prevent possible censorship by the block producers.”

Roll-ups can not do that well for decentralization

Vitalik Buterin says that block production will remain largely centralized despite the implementation of so-called rollups. Rollups are nothing more than Layer 2 solutions that can execute transactions outside of the Ethereum blockchain.

“No rollup succeeds in even remotely covering the majority of Ethereum activities, but at most a few hundred transactions per second,” said Buterin.

It seems that rollups can contribute to distributed block production. On the other hand, the possibility of a cross-domain maximum extractable turnover can limit the decentralization. Maximum Extractable Revenue is the maximum value that can be earned through block production, beyond the standard block rewards and gas fees.

So Buterin clearly indicates that regardless of scalability, block production will end up being centralized. The advantage of the roll-up-centered procedure, however, is that it will be open to everyone in the future.

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