Ethereum developer discusses node centralization before Merge

Most of the 4,653 active Ethereum nodes are managed by centralized web service providers like Amazon Web Services, which experts worry might turn into a single point of failure.
Ethereum developer discusses node centralization before Merge
Ethereum developer discusses node centralization before Merge

In a few weeks, Ethereum will formally switch from its current proof-of-work (PoW) mining consensus to a proof-of-stake (PoS) mining consensus. The official Merge transfer is scheduled for September 15, however in the lead-up to the significant update, Ethereum node centralization has gained a lot of attention.

According to analysts, the fact that the bulk of the 4,653 operational Ethereum nodes is now being managed by centralized web service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) could expose the Ethereum blockchain to a single point of failure after the Merge.

Maggie Love, a co-founder of the Web3 infrastructure company W3BCloud, raised the same issue. She asserted that the Ethereum PoS network’s node centralization could develop into a significant issue that no one is currently paying attention to.

Péter Szilágyi, the primary developer for Ethereum, responded to the growing centralization worries and stated that they had been planning to clean up the database since Devcon IV. Pruning is the process of shrinking the blockchain to a size where programmers can build a trustworthy registry.

The plan at the time faced a lot of opposition, Szilágyi continued, and the current centralization in nodes is a direct outcome of that. He clarified that in order for users to operate their own nodes, the Ethereum state had to be a fixed size.

A vast data structure known as the “Ethereum state” is used to describe all of the accounts and balances as well as the machine state, which might vary from block to block in accordance with a predetermined set of rules. Szilagyi clarified:

“Ethereum state needs to be ‘constant‘ in size. That way it can run forever. The constant can be pushed up like the block gas limit if need be, but it mustn’t grow unbounded. Until that’s solved, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”

The general public shouldn’t be blamed for “not wishing to maintain an ever larger “infrastructure” for maintaining a node,” he said, adding that multiple parties are actively working to find a solution.

The cost of operating a single node is now very high, as the crypto analytic firm Mesari noted in its research. People frequently choose cloud infrastructure service providers like AWS due to such infrastructure costs. High centralization, however, can ultimately prove to be a weakness.