ETH developer addresses node centralization concerns before the Merge, it before the Ethereum switch from its current proof-of-work (PoW) mining consensus to a proof-of-stake (PoS) one. The Merge, as it is technically known, is scheduled for September 15, but in the run-up to the significant update, Ethereum node centralization has become a hot subject.
The bulk of the 4,653 active Ethereum nodes is hosted by centralized web services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), which experts say may expose the Ethereum blockchain to a single point of failure after the Merge.
Maggie Love, the co-founder of Web3 infrastructure provider W3BCloud, expressed the same issue. She argued that the concentration of nodes in the Ethereum PoS network might become a major issue that no one seemed to be paying attention to.
Péter Szilágyi, Ethereum’s principal developer, addressed the growing centralization worries, claiming that the database has been pruned since Devcon IV. The term “pruning” refers to the process of lowering the size of the blockchain to the point where developers can establish a trustworthy registry of a specific size.
We've been saying it since Devcon IV. Either the state gets pruned, or you will end up with nobody running home nodes.
Everyone went crazy at the thought of state rent. Alexey almost got crucified for researching it. Well, now you're seeing the effect of no pruning.
— Péter Szilágyi (karalabe.eth) (@peter_szilagyi) August 26, 2022
Szilágyi went on to say that the concept was met with strong opposition at the time, and that the present concentration in nodes is a direct result of that. He emphasized that in order for everyone to operate their own nodes, the Ethereum state must be a fixed size.
The term “Ethereum state” refers to a big data structure that contains not only all accounts and balances, but also a machine state that may vary from block to block according to a set of rules. Szilágyi elaborated:
“Ethereum state needs to be ‘constant‘ in size. That way it can run forever. The constant can be pushed up like the block gas limit if need be, but it mustn’t grow unbounded. Until that’s solved, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”
He emphasized that multiple parties are working hard to remedy the issue, but in the meanwhile, the general people should not be chastised for “not wishing to maintain an increasingly greater “infrastructure” for hosting a node.”
At the moment, the cost of hosting a single node is prohibitively expensive, as crypto analytic firm Mesari noted in its analysis. People frequently resort to cloud infrastructure service providers such as AWS because of such infrastructure expenses. However, such centralization may prove to be a weakness in the long run.
ETH developer addresses node centralization concerns before the Merge in what we think are critical moments, as the Merge draws ever near, and the community has to be reassured that the update to the network will go on without a hitch.
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