The bitcoin network has mined a 1.3MB block yesterday, it’s biggest yet, handling 1683 transactions that transferred nearly 6,000 bitcoins for a fee of around $4,000.
The baseline of the transaction stood at around 870Kb, with the rest being signatures, totaling around 1,340 KB, 0.3MB higher than bitcoin’s hard limit of 1MB.
That limit remains unchanged, but through an accounting trick, signature data does not count at a ratio of 75% that of the base data. Thus allowing for a theoretical 4MB block, but that would have to be mostly signatures, making it unusable for ordinary transactions.
For ordinary use, bitcoin can now handle around 1.7MB of data based on the level of segwit’s adoption which currently stands at only 1% of transactions.
That’s because the ecosystem has not quite upgraded yet, with exchanges like Coinbase still using non-segwit transactions, while the backlog has subsided too as the network returns to somewhat normal operations.
But fee estimates by 21.co remain at around $2.50, while some are stating the 1.3MB segwit block is handling less than average transaction numbers of above 1,800 and near 2,000.
That may be because segwit transactions tend to take more space than ordinary transactions, so how much it will increase actual capacity itself remains to be seen.
Initially it was proposed as a stepping stone to the Lightning Network (LN), a second layer protocol that has been in development for now more than two years.
But LN still remains in heavy development with no realistic time estimates of when it may be launched as developers seemingly focus more on resisting segwit2x, a protocol upgrade that aims to increase the base size to 2MB from the current 1MB.
That’s expected in November, so LN seems unlikely before then, but ethereum’s Raiden LN like network has now enter its final stages of testing, so may be launched as soon as October and potentially before bitcoin’s LN, stealing the spotlight.
Whether it will in fact do so remains to be seen, but what has become somewhat clear is that the scalability debate is largely over, with the three main projects of bitcoin, ethereum, and bitcoin cash, now apparently getting down to the work of producing the code that follows their own vision in line with their promises.