In a recent development, Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has put forward a proposal aimed at making the Ethereum blockchain’s proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism more efficient and simpler.
On Dec. 28, Buterin introduced a concept that involves reducing the number of signatures required from validators. This change is expected to lighten the operational load of the Ethereum network significantly.
Ethereum’s current design boasts a substantial validator count, approximately 895,000, to enhance decentralization and encourage public participation in staking. However, this approach has its drawbacks. The network currently needs to process around 28,000 signatures per slot, which Buterin highlighted as a considerable strain on the system.
This strain leads to various challenges, including limited quantum resistance, complexities in network forking, and the necessity of using complex zero-knowledge proofs (SNARKs) for scaling signatures. Furthermore, the minimum requirement of 32 ETH for validator status remains a barrier for many individuals, somewhat contradicting the objective of widespread participation.
To address these issues, Buterin proposes reducing the number of signatures per slot to approximately 8,192 from the existing 28,000. This change would not only simplify technical aspects but also enhance quantum resistance, while maintaining a high level of slashable ETH (between 1 to 2 million ETH) to ensure validator accountability.
Buterin outlines three potential models to achieve this reduction: fully decentralized staking pools, a dual-tier system comprising both ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ staking options, and a rotating participation model based on accountable committees.
The primary benefit of this proposal is the predictability it brings to the future signature load on the Ethereum network, making it more manageable and facilitating smoother protocol and infrastructure development. Buterin emphasized the importance of not overextending the Ethereum consensus mechanism beyond its primary roles of block validation and network security, as he had previously warned in May.