Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin and the Ethereum Foundation are actively exploring various strategies to reduce Ethereum’s maximum block size.
Their objective is to fine-tune the blockchain to align with the “rollup-centric roadmap,” which prioritizes the use of rollups to enhance Ethereum’s scalability and efficiency.
In a blog post dated February 5, Buterin and Ethereum Foundation researcher Toni Wahrstätter emphasized the importance of optimizing block space utilization.
They observed that in the past 12 months, the effective block size has essentially doubled, potentially due to the growing utilization of Ethereum for data availability via rollups and trends like Inscriptions.
Vitalik Buterin Proposes 5 Solutions to Optimize Block Size
The blog post discussed five different solutions, each with varying levels of complexity.
The primary objective is to raise the block gas limits and discourage the use of calldata, thereby reducing the maximum block size and creating space for additional data blobs in the future.
One of the proposed solutions involves increasing the cost of calldata from 16 to 42 gas units.
This adjustment would decrease the maximum block size from 1.78 megabytes to 0.68 megabytes, allowing for an increase in the block gas limit.
However, Buterin expressed concerns about this approach as it could deter the use of calldata for data availability, potentially impacting applications like StarkNet that rely on large calldata for on-chain proofs.
Another suggested solution was to increase the cost of calldata while simultaneously decreasing the cost of other opcodes.
This approach aims to strike a balance between incentivizing the use of calldata and optimizing gas costs for other operations.
Devs Can Cap Amount of Calldata Per Block
The third idea that was proposed involved capping the amount of calldata per block, as outlined in Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 4488.
However, this approach also raises concerns about discouraging the use of calldata for data availability, potentially affecting applications that heavily rely on it.
Another potential solution was to create a separate calldata fee market, similar to how data blobs are managed, allowing the price for calldata usage to automatically adjust based on demand.
However, the downside to this proposal is the increased complexity in terms of analysis and implementation.
The final idea presented was to introduce an “EVM loyalty bonus” to compensate applications that heavily rely on calldata, thereby incentivizing the use of calldata within the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Buterin and Wahrstätter acknowledged that simply raising the calldata cost to 42 gas units might be overly simplistic, and implementing separate fee markets could introduce excessive complexity.
They emphasized the necessity for a well-balanced solution that involves increasing the cost of calldata while reducing the cost of certain operations or exploring models that incentivize calldata usage within the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
“A balanced solution could involve raising the cost of calldata while decreasing the cost of specific operations, or possibly moving towards a model that provides incentives for utilizing calldata within the EVM.”
It’s worth noting that Buterin previously proposed calldata limits per block as a means to lower gas costs in 2021.
In January, he suggested increasing the Ethereum gas limit by 33% to 40 million in order to improve network throughput.