For those among you who thought the Bitcoin block size debate would sort itself out, there is either good news or bad news, depending on how you want to look at it. During the recent Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a compromise may have been found. On the one side, there are people in favour of small block sizes, while the other camp is made up of those who see the benefit of using larger Bitcoin blocks.
A Bitcoin Block Size Compromise
Finding a compromise between small and larger Bitcoin block sizes is not an easy task with quite a large gap to bridge. Small block sizes would mean keeping the size at 1MB, whereas larger blocks would indicate a size of 8MB. Over the past few months, a heated debate regarding this issue has broken out, and spilled over across all of social media, Bitcointalk and Reddit.
There is another major factor to consider, too: no one wants to create another temporary workaround and table this debate for a later date. The time to act is right now, and a proper solution has to be found at this critical stage in Bitcoin history. However, it looks like a gradually increasing block size solution might please all parties.
A long-term solution would be the preferable outcome, but that does not seem to be a viable option for now. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the lacking Internet infrastructure in China, which houses all the major Bitcoin mining pools and exchange platforms. Processing Bitcoin blocks with an 8MB size is simply not an option for them, yet keeping the size at 1MB will be causing problems in the near future as well.
The majority of Bitcoin Core developers and contributors are in favor of this temporary short-term solution, which would prevent a potential Bitcoin fork in January 2016. Multiple implementations of increasing the Bitcoin block size are on the table, yet most people seem to be in favour of a 2-4-8MB solution.
“Many [are] interested or at least willing to accept a ‘short term bump,’ a hard fork to modify block size limit regime to be cost-based via ‘net-utxo’ rather than a simple static hard limit. 2-4-8 and 17%/year were debated and seemed ‘in range’ with what might work as a short term bump – net after applying the new cost metric.” – Jeff Garzik noted in a summary to the Bitcoin-dev mailing list.
Using this implementation would see the block size increase to 2MB in the next few weeks, increasing to 4MB two years from now, and eventually settling on an 8MB size in four years. The other option being tossed around is referred to as the 17% solution, which would increase the block size by 17% every year, which may or may not be sufficient in the long run.
The Plan Is Not To Keep Growing The Block Size Over Time
Regardless of which solution ends up coming out on top, there are no plans to keep increasing the Bitcoin block size for an unspecified amount of time to come. A proper solution needs to be implemented sooner or later, even if that means bumping the block size multiple times in the next four years.
“Still, the ‘greatest common denominator’ agreement did not seem to be agreeing to an increase which continues over time, but which instead limits itself to a set, smooth increase for X time and then requires a second hardfork if there is agreement on a need for more blocksize at that point.” – Blockstream co-founder Matt Corallo stated.
That solution won’t be around for a while though, as there is another Scaling Bitcoin event scheduled in Hong Kong later this year. However, this workshop presents an excellent opportunity to announce final proposals and present test results based on the outlined scaling during the Montreal event.
For the time being, either 2MB or 4MB size blocks are more than sufficient to process Bitcoin transactions all around the world. Even if there were a sudden boom in terms of Bitcoin adoption, these block sizes are more than capable of including transactions broadcasted to the Bitcoin nodes. Any size beyond 4MB Bitcoin blocks will most likely not be required until 2030 or beyond.
Source: Linux Foundation
Images courtesy of Bitcoin Core, PWGMarketing, Shutterstock