Ethereum processed a new high of 872,340 yesterday, up some 170,000 in just days, with the network now processing three times more transactions than bitcoin, while fees are down to seven cent.
Congestion is down too with just 10,000 transactions waiting to move and still falling, while for bitcoin that stands at 128,000 and rising.
The currency has recently increased capacity by miners simply raising the soft gas-limit (blocksize), which is still rising at the time of writing.
The limit stood at around 6.7 million computations when it hit a ceiling of 700,000 transactions a few days ago, causing some temporary congestion of an all time high of 30,000 transactions and raising fees to above 50 cent.
It wasn’t clear at the time whether miners would opt-in to relieve the pressure, but as a simple majority is required, they voted to raise the blocksize, which now stands at around 25kb every 15 seconds.
If our calculations are correct, that places ethereum’s blocksize at 1MB every ten minutes, the same level as bitcoin’s hard blocksize.
But while ethereum handles some 900,000 transactions a day at that level, bitcoin can manage only around 300,000, suggesting eth’s blockchain has a more efficient design due to using accounts rather than UTXO.
A doubling of this blocksize to 2MB and even 4MB would probably have little effect on decentralization as storage is now progressing towards petabyte (what comes after terabyte), while there is talk of bandwidth rising to 100GB a second and even a terabyte.
However, there are limits to a simple blocksize increase. Ethereum has been growing exponentially, as has demand for eth transactions, therefore capacity needs to be increased in the same manner.
That’s what Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s inventor, is working on, laying out a roadmap for quadratic sharding which can reach and then surpass Visa levels of thousands of transactions a second.
That’s some time off, at least by the measure of time in this space, but there are proposed improvements before then and, in the meantime, a simple blocksize increase may buy space.
Which means ethereum is, and may continue to be, the only decentralized public blockchain operating smoothly at very low fees while handling stupendous levels of transactions.