Ethereum L2 scaling protocol Polygon has recently undergone a hard fork aimed towards fixing gas fee spikes and reducing reorgs. The hard fork has been finally activated two months after being voted on the protocol’s governance portal. According to the devs, the new features will severely improve Polygon’s performance.
Polygon is a sustainable and global Web3 infrastructure built on Ethereum. It is home to more than 207 million unique addresses and tens of thousands of dApps. The L2 chain has become the most popular destination for investors seeking gas-efficient dApp utilization.
While the team works hard towards establishing parallelization – and other promising scaling technology – the first steps have been taken towards making Polygon slightly more efficient. Today’s article explains what the Polygon hard fork means for its users, and how it brings forth lower gas fees and better performance.
Proposal #1: Fixing Gas Spikes
Polygon’s hard fork took place last week following lengthy discussions within the protocol’s governance organization – which go back as early as December. The vote had 87% of participants vote for the proposals. Although the number of active validators at a time is 100, only 15 validator teams had participated in the vote.
According to a blog post published by the team, the first proposal aims to adjust the gas fees paid by users. The team claims that changing the ‘BaseFeeChangeDenominator” from the current value of 8 to 16 will smooth out gas fee volatility.
Changing the denominator ensures that gas prices remain low even during high network congestion. The blog notes that while gas price hikes are normal during surge in demand, exponential growth in gas prices is not. Gas spikes are a result of EIP-1559 and Polygon’s faster block time.
The team’s expectations are that the hard fork will flatten the growth curve of gas spikes. They have backtested these results using historical Polygon PoS main net data. Should it work, the rate of change for the base gas fee will fall to 6.25% from the current rate of 12.5%.
Keep in mind that the newly introduced protocol parameter change does not imply that gas spikes will no longer exist. Polygon users will still deal with increased gas fees during times of high demand. The major change is that the growth will no longer be exponential, and will reflect Ethereum’s current gas fee dynamics.
Proposal #2: Reducing Reorgs by Reducing Sprint Length Time
Polygon’s second proposal has the effect of reducing the time needed to complete a single data block. The solution represents one of the project’s efforts to prevent reorgs. A reorg is when a validator receives information that leads to the temporary creation of a new version of the blockchain.
The proposal introduces a parameter change that decreases the sprint length from 64 to 16 blocks. The change means that a single block producer will produce blocks continuously for a much shorter time. Effectively, block production times are reduced from 128 to 32 seconds. The goal is decreasing the depth of reorgs.
Reducing sprint length leads to fever reorgs as it lowers the chances of a secondary or tertiary validator producing new blocks before the primary one is discovered.
Polygon PoS has a consensus mechanism based on probabilistic consensus. The finality of a transaction is based on the number of transactions confirmed on top of an existing transaction. It takes around 50 blocks of transactions for a transaction to be confirmed.
Reorgs take place when a longer version of the blockchain arrives with more blocks. This situation makes the new chain the canonical one, discarding the old one.
The bad effect of reorgs is that they have a negative impact on transaction finality. It also impacts the confidence dApps have in transactions.
Decreasing sprint length should, in theory, reduce reorg frequency and improve transaction finality. You should note that the number of blocks a validator produces does not have an impact on rewards.
What Comes Next After the Polygon Hard Fork?
The aforementioned blog post mentions that the community can expect yet another hard fork to take place in the coming months. Nothing has been revealed apart from the fact that the hard fork will improve the network.
But while all eyes are set on improving Ethereum and making it more scalable via various solutions, the crypto community is concerned about Polygon’s level of decentralization. 100 validators have been expected to participate in the last governance proposal. However, only 15 had voted on whether the hard fork should be implemented. And out of 15 validators, 13 validators voted for the hard fork.
Can 13 validators really hard fork an entire protocol just like that? A lackluster of decentralization is nothing new to the innovative crypto space. But the recent fork brings up the question of whether DeFi is really DeFi anymore. The team has not made any comments about the small number of validators voting on the fork.
There are certain red flags when decentralization comes to mind, but for now, we will have to monitor Polygon for its efficiency. After all, it’s the most popular scaling solution, and given the state of the market right now, results are all that matter.
Want to learn more about Ethereum and its scaling solutions? I recommend reading the following articles:
Marko is a crypto enthusiast who has been involved in the blockchain industry since 2018. When not charting, tweeting on CT, or researching Solana NFTs, he likes to read about psychology, InfoSec, and geopolitics.
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