A study, carried out in the prestigious Cornell University has shown that the Ethereum blockchain is currently more decentralized than Bitcoin. These findings have been publicized at the Genesis London blockchain conference by Emin Gün Sirer, who, in addition to being a cryptocurrency expert, is a professor at Cornell.
Location and ownership of the nodes were the two main criteria in the study to determine the level of decentralization. Interestingly, Bitcoin has more nodes linked to institutions and organizations, while the majority of the Ethereum nodes are owned and operated by individuals rather than companies or institutions.
Mr. Sirer has claimed that “The data shows that the ETH nodes are both in the latency space, and also geographically more distributed around the world. Ethereum nodes tend to come from all sorts of places, smaller networks, and homegrown entities, as opposed to Bitcoin nodes, which tend to be located in data centers. Our study found that the majority of Bitcoin nodes, 56%, are in data centers.“
In a recent interview, Vitalik Buterin, a founder of Ethereum, has claimed that full scalability of Ethereum will take 3 to 5 years, with its success heavily depending on implementing innovative scaling solutions, such as Sharding and Plasma. Sharding is a massive upgrade in the current mining system through the proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm as it eliminates competition among miners and allows them to cooperate to solve mathematical problems. This ensures that computing power is not lost, which is the most significant issue of the PoW.
Mr. Sirer has also noted that embracing hardware technologies for public blockchains like Ethereum or Bitcoin could help immensely with increasing the number of transactions per second. Right now, Ethereum blockchain supports 15 transactions per second, compared to, let’s say Visa, which processes approximately 45,000.
Hardware, such as Intel SGX, which is existent on all Intel devices including laptops, could help to increase the number to thousands of transactions per second. According to the professor, “SGX is a very exciting technology, and there are other trusted computing technologies, not SGX, but by other vendors, that provide similar guarantees. What that gives you is the ability to know what protocol somebody else is following. That is a fundamental leap.“
Although a rapidly growing number of companies, institutions, retailers and other organizations shy away from centralized databases in favour of the distributed ledger technology, the problems surrounding blockchain are still very technical. That is why Mr. Serin echoed the sentiment of Buterin, stating that it will probably take years of development and a huge number of resources and investment to commercialize blockchain in a way that is available to the general public.
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I have been following the crypto markets since mid 2017, just in time to witness the incredible surge of the digital asset industry. Fascinated by the potential of blockchain technology I’ve started to dig deeper and that’s how I ended up meeting the Toshi Times team. I hold a Political Science degree, therefore the crypto regulation development is particularly interesting for me. I’m also heavily involved with music, running my own label, a YouTube channel and working with distribution. People call blockchain the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and I believe it will change our daily lives in the coming years and we will have the front row seats to witness it.