Ethereum developers launch “pump the gas” campaign to raise gas limit

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Core Ethereum developers have started the “pump the gas” campaign to raise the blockchain’s gas limit from 30 million to 40 million.

The initiative aims to reduce transaction fees on its primary layer by 15% to 33%, as announced on March 20. The idea stems from Eric Connor, a key Ethereum developer, and Mariano Conti, former head of smart contracts at MakerDAO, via a newly established website for the initiative. Their objective is to accommodate a 33% greater transaction volume daily on Ethereum, potentially reducing layer-1 transaction fees significantly.

Central to the campaign is the conern that while data blobs introduced in the Dencun update via EIP-4844 have successfully reduced layer-2 transaction prices, layer-1 fees have remained unchanged. The developers are of the opinion that by increasing the gas limit and utilizing data blobs, scaling for both layer-1 and layer-2 networks might be greatly improved. reached out to Connors for further insights but didnot hear back. 

Gas, measured in gwei (a fraction of Ether), is used to complete transactions or execute smart contracts. As such, the gas limit is a crucial parameter for the Ethereum network. It determines the maximum amount of gas that can be used for transactions or smart contracts in a block. Since August 2021, the limit has been set at 30 million.

Gas limit standardization guarantees that block sizes are kept at a manageable level, thus maintaining network speed and synchronization. When new blocks are formed, validators can dynamically modify these limits depending on certain criteria.

The idea behind raising the gas limit is that it allows for more transactions per block, which will make the network faster and more capable. However, this also means an increased demand for hardware resources, leading to greater risks of network spam and vulnerability to attacks.

In the past, the gas limit has been gradually adjusted to accommodate the growth of the network. Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has previously proposed raising it to 40 million in January, consistent with growing support for this change within the community.

This proposal has seen support within the Ethereum community, evidenced by active discussions and endorsements on social media platforms, with a Rocket Pool validator already proposing a block reflecting the new 40 million gas limit on March 20.

Although some community members and developers are hopeful, doubts have been aired. Evan Van Ness, a venture investor and Ethereum advocate, expressed his cynicism about increasing the gas limit, especially since the EIP-4844 via the Dencun upgrade also had an impact on block size.

Concerns regarding the potential increase in the gas limit were also voiced earlier this year by Marius van der Wijden, an Ethereum engineer, who stated that it could impact the state of the blockchain, which includes data related to smart contracts and account balances. He pointed out that while size alone might not be the main problem, accessing and altering this data could become increasingly slower. 

The Ethereum network has been facing persistent scalability issues since its inception. This also has been a key reason behind hefty gas fees that the network has seen in times of heavy load. On March 4, 2024, gas fees hit as high as 174 gwei. It is yet to be seen if this new initiative succeeds in delivering on its promise.

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