Vitalik Buterin has proposed significant changes to Ethereum’s proof-of-stake (PoS) system.
The core of Buterin’s proposal is a shift in Ethereum’s approach to handling validator signatures.
Ethereum currently supports an exceptionally high number of validators with around 895,000 validator objects.
This large number is intended to enhance decentralization, enabling more individuals and entities to participate in staking. However, this design requires the Ethereum chain to process an immense number of signatures per slot, which results in a high computational load.
Rethinking signature processing
Buterin points out that the current system necessitates complex technical mechanisms, including attestation propagation across multiple subnets and the optimization of signature operations.
Additionally, the system lacks an efficient quantum-resistant alternative and faces increased complexities in implementing fork choice fixes and SNARKing signatures.
Despite these efforts, the goal of making staking accessible to the average person remains elusive, as evidenced by the still-high minimum staking requirement of 32 ETH.
In response, Buterin suggests moving away from the expectation of processing an ever-increasing number of signatures per slot.
Exploring alternative approaches
The post outlines three potential approaches to reduce the number of signatures per slot.
The first approach involves focusing exclusively on decentralized staking pools, potentially raising the minimum deposit size and capping the number of validators.
The second proposes a two-tiered staking system with a heavy layer for finalization and a light layer for added security.
The third approach, rotating participation, involves selecting a subset of validators for each slot, with participation probabilities based on stake size.
Each approach carries its own set of trade-offs in terms of complexity, security, and egalitarianism in staking. The decision on which path to take hinges on balancing these factors,