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News/Ethereum Developers Propose Dramatic Increase in Validator Limit: 32 to 2,048 Ether

Ethereum Developers Propose Dramatic Increase in Validator Limit: 32 to 2,048 Ether

Jun 19 2023

12 months ago3 minutes read

Ethereum Developers Seek to Increase Validator Limit

Written by Van

In a recent Ethereum core developer consensus meeting held on June 15, Ethereum developers have put forward a proposal to increase the minimum amount of staked Ether required to become a validator. Currently set at 32 ETH, the proposed increase would raise the limit to 2,048 ETH. If approved, this change would require validators to stake 64 times more ETH than before. 

While the current limit allows for more validators to join the Ethereum network, increasing decentralization, it also leads to an inflation of the validator set size. The proposed increase aims to make the Ethereum network more efficient over time.

Auto-Compounding Validator Rewards

Alongside the proposal to raise the validator limit, Ethereum Foundation researcher Michael Neuder has called for the implementation of auto-compounding validator rewards. At present, any rewards received beyond the 32 ETH cap must be transferred to another account. Auto-compounding of rewards would enable validators to earn more money on their staked ETH, without the need for manual transfers.

Impact on Large Node Operators

Currently, the Ethereum network boasts over 700,000 validators actively participating in its operations. Additionally, there is a substantial queue of around 90,000 validators awaiting activation. This demonstrates the growing interest and involvement of validators in the Ethereum ecosystem. The proposed increase in the validator limit, if implemented, would have significant implications for the network's structure and decentralization, potentially shaping its future trajectory.

If the proposal to raise the validator limit is implemented, it would particularly benefit large node operators, including exchanges, which currently manage thousands of validators. With the increased limit, these operators would be able to consolidate their validators and streamline their operations more effectively.

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Source: Beaconscan.com

Mixed Reactions from the Crypto Community

The Case for the Proposal

Boosting Network Efficiency and Finality

Michael Neuder points out that the current abundance of validators places a strain on the Ethereum network. By increasing the maximum validator balance, Neuder believes that the growth of active validators could be curbed, resulting in improved network efficiency. 

This change could also facilitate the achievement of "single slot finality," where blocks can be finalized within a single Ethereum slot, which lasts approximately 12 seconds. This would be a significant improvement compared to the existing timeframe of around 15 minutes for finalizing blocks.

Simplifying Operations for Exchanges and Staking Providers

One of the potential benefits of increasing the max validator balance is the simplification of operations for exchanges and staking providers. Currently, due to the limit, these entities manage numerous validator nodes, which adds complexity to their operations. 

By consolidating validators through the increased maximum limit, exchanges and staking providers could manage fewer validators with higher stakes, streamlining their processes and reducing operational complexity. This consolidation could also have positive implications for key management and facilitate easier reward compounding, as highlighted by investor Eric Conner.

Not Everyone's in Favor

Concerns about Slashing Risks

Adam Cochran, Managing Partner at Cinneamhain Ventures, raises concerns about the potential risks associated with the proposal. Cochran suggests that as more validator stakes are consolidated, the risk of unintentional double attestations, known as "slashing," could significantly increase. According to Cochran, this change would primarily benefit wealthy staking services, potentially exposing users to a higher risk of slashing penalties.

Perceived Unnecessary Modification

Banteg, the lead developer of Yearn Finance, expresses a strong dissenting view, labeling the proposal as "completely unnecessary." Banteg argues that the Ethereum network is not burdened by additional load, even with the presence of hundreds of thousands of validators. This viewpoint challenges the premise that increasing the maximum validator balance would bring significant improvements to network performance.

Development Overhead and Implementation Complexity

Eleftherios Karapetsas, founder of the Rotki crypto portfolio app, acknowledges the potential advantages of the proposal but raises concerns about the development overhead required for its implementation. While recognizing the desirability of consolidating stake, Karapetsas points out that significant changes and rewriting of the existing system may be necessary, making the proposal potentially impractical or unnecessary.

The Ethereum community remains divided over the proposal to increase the maximum validator balance. Proponents argue that such a change could enhance network efficiency, simplify operations, and improve finality. Conversely, opponents raise concerns about increased slashing risks, question the necessity of the modification, and highlight potential implementation challenges. 


Ethscriptions Launches on Ethereum

Ethscriptions: A New Protocol for Creating NFTs on Ethereum

In the meantime, a new protocol called "Ethscriptions" has recently been launched on the Ethereum blockchain, offering users a unique way to create nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and other digital assets. The protocol, introduced on June 17 by Tom Lehman, co-founder of the music website Genius.com, provides a cheaper and more decentralized minting process compared to traditional smart contract-based methods.

Leveraging Ethereum "calldata" for Cheaper and Decentralized Minting

Ethscriptions utilizes Ethereum "calldata" to enable a more affordable and decentralized minting process. While users are currently limited to image-only inscriptions, the protocol has plans to allow different file types in the future. As of now, users can "ethscribe" any image as long as it doesn't exceed 96 kilobytes in size. The launch of Ethscriptions witnessed significant interest, with nearly 30,000 Ethscriptions created within the first 18 hours. The high user activity even caused temporary crashes on the API interface for the official Ethscriptions website.

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Debut Project: "Ethereum Punks"

One notable project that has emerged on the Ethscriptions protocol is "Ethereum Punks," created by Tom Lehman himself. All 10,000 assets in the collection were claimed almost instantaneously and received a positive response from the community. The success of this debut project demonstrates the enthusiasm surrounding the new possibilities offered by Ethscriptions.

Inspired by Bitcoin Ordinals

Ethscriptions draws inspiration from the Bitcoin Ordinals protocol, where assets are known as "inscriptions." Bitcoin Ordinals experienced remarkable growth, with the total number of inscriptions on Bitcoin surging from zero to 10 million in less than six months. This surge was driven by users embracing the novelty of minting assets, which eventually expanded to include the creation of entirely new tokens on the Bitcoin network. While Ethscriptions shows promise, its success may depend on whether it can replicate the level of popularity achieved by Bitcoin Ordinals.


JPMorgan: Hinman Documents Propel Ethereum's Decentralization and Potential

Hinman Documents and Ethereum's Legal Status

Recently, JPMorgan released a report that sheds light on the legal status of Ethereum and the impact of the so-called "Hinman documents." In 2018, officials from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were uncertain about Ethereum's legal classification. However, the Hinman documents have the potential to boost Ethereum's standing and drive a movement toward greater decentralization in the cryptocurrency space.

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Ethereum's Status as a Non-Security

According to the former SEC director of the Division of Corporation Finance unit, William Hinman, Ethereum, specifically its native cryptocurrency Ether (ETH), is not considered a security in the eyes of the financial regulator. This distinction is crucial, given that the SEC has filed a lawsuit against Ripple Labs, alleging that the company sold XRP as an unregistered security. 

The Hinman documents acknowledge the existence of an "other category" where certain assets, like Ether, do not fit the traditional definition of securities. The primary reason Ether is not deemed a security is due to its lack of a controlling group, as defined by the Howey Test.

Influence on Crypto Regulation Efforts

The Hinman documents are expected to influence the direction of the current U.S. congressional effort to regulate the cryptocurrency industry. JPMorgan has proposed placing Ether in the same category as Bitcoin and regulating it as a commodity under the oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). 

This approach would establish a new "other category" specifically tailored to decentralized cryptocurrencies like Ether, which fall outside the SEC's jurisdiction. The level of decentralization of a cryptocurrency could become a determining factor in its designation as a security.


FAQ about Ethereum’s Latest News

Q: What is the proposed increase in the validator limit for Ethereum?

A: Ethereum developers have proposed raising the validator limit from 32 ETH to 2,048 ETH.

Q: How would raising the validator limit impact large node operators?

A: Large node operators, such as exchanges, would benefit from the proposed increase as it would allow them to manage their validators more efficiently.

Q: What is Ethscriptions?

A: Ethscriptions is a new protocol on the Ethereum blockchain that enables the creation of NFTs and other digital assets through a cheaper and more decentralized minting process.

Q: Who launched Ethscriptions?

A: Ethscriptions was launched by Tom Lehman, co-founder of the music website Genius.com.

Q: What is the legal status of Ethereum according to the Hinman documents?

A: The Hinman documents indicate that Ethereum's native cryptocurrency, Ether (ETH), is not considered a security by the SEC and falls into an "other category" of assets.


Conclusion

The proposal to raise the validator limit on Ethereum, if approved, has the potential to shape the network's future by increasing efficiency and benefiting large node operators. Additionally, the launch of the Ethscriptions protocol provides a promising avenue for creating NFTs and digital assets on the Ethereum blockchain. 

The Hinman documents, acknowledged by JPMorgan, hold the key to Ethereum's legal status and could significantly impact the regulatory landscape. As Ethereum continues to evolve and navigate these developments, it remains an influential force in the world of cryptocurrency, driving innovation and decentralization.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT.

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