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Vitalik Buterin Proposes Faster Ethereum Transactions with Single-Slot Finality

Vitalik Buterin Proposes Single-Slot Finality for Faster Ethereum Transactions, Addressing Current Epoch-and-Slot Limitations

by Isaac lane
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Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has proposed a significant change to the Ethereum network’s transaction processing mechanism to speed up transactions. In a blog post published on June 30, titled “Epochs and slots down ways to give Ethereum users faster transaction confirmation times,” Buterin outlined the potential benefits and challenges of shifting from the current epoch-and-slot mechanism to a single-slot finality (SSF) system.

Current Mechanism and Its Limitations

Under the current system, known as Ethereum 2.0 and using the Gasper consensus, transaction confirmations occur within 5-20 seconds following the Ethereum Merge in 2022, which transitioned the network from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus. Slots, 12-second periods where validators propose blocks, and epochs, which comprise 32 slots, aim to ensure transaction finality but introduce latency and complexity.

Proposed Single-Slot Finality System

Buterin proposed replacing the existing slot-by-slot finality with a single-slot finality system, similar to the Tendermint consensus. This change could reduce transaction confirmation times to mere milliseconds, enhancing user experience and meeting the needs of applications requiring extremely low latency.

The structure of epochs and slots on Ethereum 2. Source:

Challenges and Considerations

The shift to SSF presents significant challenges. Every Ethereum stake would need to publish two messages every 12 seconds, potentially increasing network congestion. Buterin acknowledged that while there are proposals like Orbit SSF to mitigate this issue, the infrastructure still necessitates users to wait 5-20 seconds.

Need for Further Exploration

Buterin emphasized that Ethereum is still far from resolving all the issues related to speeding up transactions. He noted that designs like Orbit SSF are recent and that the design space for slot-and-epoch configurations remains under-explored. The Ethereum Foundation is seeking more innovative solutions to improve both layer-1 (L1) and layer-2 (L2) transaction speeds.

The proposal to move towards a single-slot finality system represents a potential leap forward in reducing Ethereum transaction times. While challenges remain, the exploration of new designs and mechanisms continues to be a priority for the Ethereum community, aiming to provide a faster and more efficient blockchain experience.

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