Ethereum is weeks away from officially moving to a proof of stake (PoS) mining consensus of its current proof-of-work (PoW). The transition, officially dubbed the merger, is scheduled for September 15, but in the run-up to the major upgrade, the centralization of Ethereum nodes has become a hot topic.
As Cointelegraph reported last week, the majority of the 4,653 active Ethereum nodes are managed by centralized web providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), which experts say could expose the Ethereum blockchain at the central point of failure after the merger.
The same concern was voiced by Maggie Love, co-founder of Web3 infrastructure company W3BCloud. She claimed that the centralization of nodes in the Ethereum PoS network could become a big concern that nobody seems to focus on.
Ethereum lead developer Péter Szilágyi addressed the growing centralization issues and claimed that they aim to prune the database since Devcon IV. Pruning refers to reducing the size of the blockchain to a point where developers can create a trusted ledger with a certain size.
We’ve been saying this since Devcon IV. Either the state is pruned, or you’ll end up with no one running the home nodes.
Everyone has gone mad at the idea of state rent. Alexey was almost crucified for doing research. Well, now you see the effect of no pruning.
— Péter Szilágyi (karalabe.eth) (@peter_szilagyi) August 26, 2022
Szilágyi added that the idea received strong reactions at the time and that the current centralization in nodes is a direct result of it. He explained that Ethereum’s state needs to be of constant size for people to manage their own nodes.
Ethereum state refers to a large data structure that contains not only all accounts and balances, but also a state of the machine, which can change from block to block according to a predefined set of rules. Szilágyi explained:
“Ethereum’s state must be of ‘constant’ size. This way it can run indefinitely. The constant can be increased like the block’s gas limit if needed, but it must not grow without limit. As long as this problem is not solved, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
He noted that active efforts are being made by multiple parties to address the issue, however, in the meantime, the general public should not be blamed for “not wanting to maintain ever-growing ‘infrastructure’ to run a node. “.
Currently, the cost of running an individual node is very high, which cryptanalytic firm Mesari reported in its report. Because of these infrastructure costs, people often turn to cloud infrastructure service providers such as AWS. However, strong centralization could prove to be a long-term vulnerability.