For those in the Bitcoin community who hoped the block size debate had come to an end will be sorely mistaken. However, there seems to be good news, as a new GitHub proposal has been made by Jeff Garzik to incrementally increase the Bitcoin block size over time. BIP 202 is not overly complicated, and could end up being the solution everybody has been waiting for.
BIP 202 – Small Block Size Increments, Starting at 2 MB
Even though very few Bitcoin blocks come remotely close to the artificial block size limit of 1MB, there have been various proposals to increase this maximum size for quite some time now. As Bitcoin gains more popularity, the number of network transactions will increase, which could lead to confirmation delays if the block size is kept at 1 MB.
Coming to a consensus on how this block size should be increased, has proven to be quite a struggle. Many people want to swing for the fences and increase the block size by quite a margin when the next block reward halving takes place. However, there are some serious drawbacks to that solution.
First of all, the Chinese mining pools – which represent the majority of the Bitcoin network hashrate – are not in favor of very big blocks, as the local Internet infrastructure is unable to cope with the demand of large data chunks. Secondly, the blockchain is already huge in size as it is right now, and adding blocks five times the current size to that chain will only make things even worse.
Last but not least, there has to be a majority consensus before things can change, and with the current proposals, that has proven to be nearly impossible. Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik came up with an alternative solution that, on paper, seems to please all parties involved. BIP 202, as this solution is called, will double the block size to 2 MB, as well as small further increases over time.
This proposal would be acceptable for Chinese mining pools as 2 MB blocks are not that huge of a difference. Additionally, the Chinese Internet infrastructure will – hopefully – be upgraded sooner or later to cope with more data consumption. Smaller incremental block size increases leave plenty of time for this infrastructure to take place, or find other solutions in the meantime.
At the time of publication, it remained to be seen whether or not anyone wants to support BIP 202. Jeff Garzik’s idea holds a lot of merit that can be beneficial to all parties involved. The question remains whether or not the majority of the Bitcoin network – including mining pools and payment processors – will come to a decision sooner rather than later.