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Author Topic: Long term Scalability of Bitcoin and the 1 MB block size limit  (Read 8672 times)
DeathAndTaxes
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Gerald Davis


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November 05, 2013, 12:39:19 AM
 #21

Im very skeptic about the scalability of the current architecture.
Imagine 1 billion people using bitcoin 5 times/day = 5 billion transactions / day = 1825 billion transactions per year

Is the bitcoin client able to handle 58,000 transactions per second and a blockchain terrabytes or maybe even petabytes in size?

OH NOES Bitcoin might only someday handle 10% of all tx in the world.

Come on nobody now how large Bitcoin will be.  Maybe Bitcoin never gets to PayPal stages so worrying about will it be able to handle being the single one currency in the world where every man woman and child processes every single tx is kinda silly.  I mean Bitcoin isn't even the single cryptocurreny today and your are invisioning a system where every nation on earth gives up their sovereign currency (something that is almost inconceivable) and the entirety of humanity processes directly on the blockchain for everything from billion dollar (equivelent) intra bank swaps to a cup of coffee.

If Bitcoin can't do that but it can say become the world largest payment network that is open, transparent, and decentralized in a decade or two would you consider it a failure?

Still if you absolutely can't sleep without knowing can Bitcoin scale to "the one coin to rule them all":
1) Will all tx be on the blockchain?  It is highly unlikely given that even today with essentially free txs and a tiny tiny ecosystem all tx aren't on the blockchain.
2) When will this end game occur? Tomorrow, a decade, fifty years?

Today handling that type of volume would require very large and expensive nodes.  It probably could be done but we are talking some serious hardware.  The largest bottleneck is bandwidth and most residential connections don't come close so all full nodes would be in a datacenter.     To avoid near continual swapping one would want a significant fraction of the UXTO in memory and at 50,000 tps we are talking "a lot" (64GB? 128GB?).  Disk is less of an issue but you are talking about ~1 TB per day.  It would require some pretty massive RAIDs.  Possible but hardly hobbyist.  CPU power is almost a non-issue today (quad core can perform roughly 50,000 tps) and will become less of an issue in the future.

The good news is Bitcoin isn't going from <1 tps to 50,000 tps in a year, or a decade.  It may never scale that large for issues beyond tech but even if it did we are talking on a lifetime scale.  Today we have TB scale drives, when I went to college in 1995 I bought one of the first economical 1 GB HDD.  I have do doubt in another 2 decades we will have PB scale storage for $200 or so.  The same will apply to bandwidth and memory.  

It probably makes more sense in looking at "if in the next 5-10 years" Bitcoin reached PayPal scale (tens of million users, 50 tps) what kind of resources are we talking about.  What types of optimizations would pay the largest dividends.   


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November 05, 2013, 06:45:14 AM
 #22

See: Average block size chart

Since implementing the "dust rule", block size has been pretty steady; I would guess we won't hit the 1MB hard limit for another two years, but that is just a guess, we could easily hit it sooner or later than that.


Lol! That's like the "famous last words" in bitcoinland  Grin

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November 06, 2013, 08:05:58 PM
 #23

Price of 1Gb of storage:
1981 $300000
1987 $50000
1990 $10000
1994 $1000
1997 $100
2000 $10
2004 $1
2012 $0.10
(via @scienceporn)

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Gerald Davis


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November 06, 2013, 08:11:31 PM
 #24

Price of 1Gb of storage:
1981 $300000
1987 $50000
1990 $10000
1994 $1000
1997 $100
2000 $10
2004 $1
2012 $0.10
(via @scienceporn)

Nice one.  I remember 1995 clearly as I splurged and bought one of the first economical 1GB drives for a little over $300.  It arrived DOA but luckily the RMA worked fine for years.  When most HDD were measured in MB I had a GB.  I bought it to be able to duplicate CD-ROMs faster and more reliably (as blanks cost IIRC something like $15).  There were a lot of burned copies of warcraft floating around the dorm that year. Smiley
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November 08, 2013, 03:41:48 AM
 #25

The original goal of bitcoin was to have a fully decentralized cryptocurrency, if we rely on datacenters the network becomes more centralized, and thereby more vulnerable.

My proposal:
Assume we have 1 million nodes and 5-10 transactions per node and day resulting in a total of 50-100 tps.
Instead of 1 million nodes running the same gigantic blockchain, each node downloads it's own blockchain based on the blocks and transactions from neighboring nodes.
Thousand of nodes will keep track of identical blocks to prevent double-spending, data-loss or data-corruption and that should be enough.
The result will be that you can run bitcoin node even on your mobile phone, instead of downloading a blockchain of 100 GB, you download 100 MB.

The proposed architecture would have been unsecure in the childhood of bitcoin, but with growing number of miners and nodes I think we have a critical mass of users where the network can be secure even though just a fraction of the blockchain is saved by each node.
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November 12, 2013, 11:14:03 AM
 #26

Following.

It looks like the last jump was about 5x ... so another jump like that and... I wouldn't be surprised if it happens by end of 2014

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August 20, 2015, 04:37:56 PM
 #27

Following.

It looks like the last jump was about 5x ... so another jump like that and... I wouldn't be surprised if it happens by end of 2014

Bumping an old topic due to the recent rise to 13.7% of the XT "devaluation" core and drop of BTC price vs Fiat. This is a good read with the argument against forking BTC in favor of XT is pretty strong.

The main question is - how decentralized do you want to be? Freedom or ruled by XT? Brahm Cohen foretold the takeover of BTC by outside forces with malicious intent, saying they would prophesy the doom of BTC and instill false panic in the miners. Once the miners change to a "new, better core" then you effectively own the bitcoin network.

I'm not saying there isn't a 1mb problem, I'm just saying it isn't soon and XT definitely isn't the answer. Let the limit be touched more often than once in a blue moon and the limit will likely be raised in Core, just as other fixes have been implemented as they have popped up.

Personally I think the whole "reindex for 3 days every time you lose power" problem is much more pressing than the 1mb limit.

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September 21, 2016, 04:57:19 PM
 #28

Consensus is the block size limit will have to rise.

Us geeks were/will/are arguing over how and when, not if...


3 years later, and we're still arguing how, when and even IF it should be raised.

we actually gone BACKWARDS in our reasoning.
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December 06, 2016, 03:16:10 PM
 #29

Consensus is the block size limit will have to rise.

Us geeks were/will/are arguing over how and when, not if...


3 years later, and we're still arguing how, when and even IF it should be raised.

we actually gone BACKWARDS in our reasoning.

Pretty amazing how the landscape of the Core Devs has changed since Gavin responded to this. That said, I think that Gavin's statement still applies.
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