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Vitalik Buterin Advocates for a 33% Gas Limit Increase for Ethereum

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During a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) event organized by the Ethereum Foundation’s research team, the protocol’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin suggested a “modest” increase in its gas limit to improve network throughput.

Buterin noted that the gas limit has not been increased for nearly three years, marking the longest period in the protocol’s history.

The Gas Limit Proposal

“Honestly, I think doing a modest gas limit increase even today is reasonable,” said Buterin during the AMA.

Buterin proposed an increase to approximately 40 million. As per Etherscan, the existing gas limit stands at 30 million, indicating Buterin’s proposal would necessitate a 33% increase.

The Ethereum gas limit refers to the maximum amount of gas spent on executing transactions or smart contracts in each block. Gas is the fee required to conduct a transaction or execute a contract on the Ethereum blockchain.

Increasing the gas limit allows more transactions into each block, theoretically increasing the overall throughput and capacity of the network.

There are also potential risks associated with increasing the gas limit of Ethereum. Larger blocks necessitate additional energy for miners to process and finalize, which can raise the chances of chain splits and abandoned blocks.

A Look Back

The average gas limit just after Ethereum’s introduction in 2015 was around 3 million, which has increased over time along with network usage and adoption.

In April 2021, the Ethereum network witnessed a significant milestone, with the gas limit being raised by miners from 12.5 million to 15 million.

This decision, proposed by Buterin, was prompted by the network’s improvements post the Berlin hard fork, which enhanced the platform’s security and prepared it for the increased gas limit.

The primary objective of this change was to alleviate network congestion caused by the surge in Ether’s price. As a result of this adjustment, the gas limit has consistently maintained a level of 30 million.

2023 also saw network gas fees spike to a high of 150 gwei in May due to the inscriptions craze. A gwei is a denomination of Ethereum that represents one billionth of a single Ether.

Average gas prices are currently around 35 gwei or $1.89, according to Etherscan. However, they have increased since the beginning of 2024 and are much higher for complex smart contract operations.