The State of Scaling Ethereum
Ethereum developers have long known that scaling the network is a subject worth discussion and investment. The matter did not quite spill out from the developer community, however, until late 2017, when a decentralized application (dApp) named CryptoKitties attracted so much traffic it began slowing down the network. On top of network latency, the price of gas—the fee required to run each operation within a contract on the Ethereum blockchain—soared as users competed for their transactions to be validated.
Though the story is now over-reported and exhausted, the CryptoKitties situation revealed that Ethereum in its current state may not be prepared for the amount of traffic that would accompany the launch of a successful dApp. Slow speeds and volatile usage-costs drive people away from platforms and applications. DApp developers are charging ahead to release the first widely-adopted application, so Ethereum developers must continue working to scale the blockchain.
One theory of blockchain technology is that a network can only support two of the following: security, decentralization, and scalability. This “trilemma”—as it has become known—has been the challenge of Ethereum developers as they they seek to maintain the core tenets of blockchain (decentralization and security) while scaling it for widespread adoption and implementation.