Ethereum's Vitalik Buterin Proposes Gas Limit Increase

Ethereum's gas limit refers to the maximum amount of gas that can be expended in an individual block. A limit increase could improve network capacity and potentially reduce costs for users.

AccessTimeIconJan 11, 2024 at 3:12 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 7:45 p.m. UTC

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin suggested raising the network's gas limit by 33% on Wednesday – a move that would raise the network's transaction capacity and could reduce fees for end-users, but could increase operational costs for validators.

Users of the Ethereum blockchain pay gas fees to ensure that their transactions are added to the network, and the gas that one pays to execute a transaction roughly correlates to its computational complexity (e.g. a simple token swap will cost less gas than opening up a convoluted lending position).

Ethereum's gas limit refers to the total amount of gas that can be squeezed into an individual Ethereum block – the bundles of transactions that get added to the Ethereum network at regular intervals. Increasing the gas limit would mean increasing the amount (and complexity) of transactions that can be added to a block.

Buterin made the gas increase suggestion during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session featuring the Ethereum Foundation Research group.

"The gas limit has not been increased for nearly three years, which is the longest time ever in the protocol's history," Buterin wrote in response to a commenter who asked whether Ethereum could "safely increase" its gas limit. Buterin suggested increasing the gas limit to 40 million gas units – a 33% increase over today's 30 million limit.

A ramp-up in Ethereum's gas limit wouldn't require a big update or "hard fork" of the network's core code. Instead, the validators that operate the network should be able to implement the change by adjusting certain parameters in their node software.

Calls for increasing the gas limit started back in December when some of Ethereum's layer 2 (L2) networks were experiencing record usage. Martin Köppelmann, the co-founder of Gnosis Chain, wrote on X that for “Ethereum to become a settlement layer for L2s it needs to increase its block gas limit.”

Following Buterin’s Reddit comments on Wednesday, more users on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, chimed in with words of support for the suggested increase. Jesse Pollak, the head of protocols at Coinbase and creator of the layer-2 blockchain Base, shared his support of the move and suggested the gas limit could even be increased even further, to 45 million.

Others expressed more caution about the gas change, like Ethereum core developer Dankrad Feist, who suggested that calldata and blobs per block should be targeted in addition to the overall gas limit.

As for what the limit increase accomplishes, "it simply allows more activity on L1 - it will either reduce tx costs - or more likely IMO just increase capacity at similar cost -> more burn,” said Köppelmann.


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Sam Kessler

Sam is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for tech and protocols. He reports on decentralized technology, infrastructure and governance. He owns ETH and BTC.

Margaux Nijkerk

Margaux Nijkerk reports on the Ethereum protocol and L2s. A graduate of Johns Hopkins and Emory universities, she has a masters in International Affairs & Economics. She holds a small amount of ETH and other altcoins.