Vitalik Buterin Wants to Modify Ethereum's Proof-of-Stake Model

In a new blog post, Buterin offers three approaches to simplify the network’s high validator load.

By: Pedro Solimano Loading...

 Image representing a proof of stake network with the Ethereum logo at the center,

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin published a blog post today proposing to reduce the network’s load associated with its high validator count. The number of validators reaches roughly 895,000.

This high figure supports decentralization–allowing even regular individuals to participate in staking–but strains the network due to the huge number of signatures it has to process.

According to Buterin, the load and technical complexity is currently too high, and needs addressing.

Ether is posting a green day, surging 6.1% to $2,363 in the past 24 hours, according to Coingecko.

Buterin reckons that the current signature aggregation system–which processes roughly 28,000 signatures per slot–breeds systemic complexity and doesn’t reach the end goal of allowing anybody to stake.

“It seems infeasible to make an everyone-signs-in-every-slot system truly enable staking for the average person in the long term: if Ethereum has 500 million users, and 10% of them stake, then that implies 100 million signatures per slot,” Buterin wrote.

Ethereum Slots

A slot refers to a unit of time in the Ethereum network. A time period of 12 seconds is given for the network to choose a random validator to propose a block to the slot.

Ethereum’s co-founder considers sticking to 8,192 signatures per slot (in lieu of the current 28,000) moving forward would reduce the technical complexities that the network currently grapples with.

Buterin’s Three Approaches

Proposing three approaches to broach the issue, Buterin starts off with going all-in on decentralized staking pools. This would require raising the minimum deposit size to 4,096 ETH, incentivizing small-staker to join these pools.

Buterin’s second approach is to create two layers of stakers. A “heavy” layer with the aforementioned 4,096 ETH which participates in finality, and a second “lighter” layer (with no minimum) that offers an additional coat of security.

Attacks should be less prevalent, since both layers would need to be corrupted, but it would also make staking less egalitarian by “enshrining” a divide between cohorts.

His final approach is rotating communities, chosen from the current pool of active validators and adjusted every slot for increased security.

The main drawback, however, is that it increases protocol complexity. Meanwhile, it preserves solo staking in a recognizable form, allows a one-class system, and even allows for the minimum deposit size to be reduced to a very low level (eg. 1 ETH).

Taking a Load Off

The developer insists that 8,192 signatures makes the technical complexities presently plaguing the network much lower.

“It becomes much easier for anyone to run a consensus client, and users, staking enthusiasts and others would be able to immediately work off of that assumption,” he wrote, concluding that “The future load of the Ethereum protocol becomes no longer unknown.”

Now, the community must grapple with which approach to implement.