Athens Tezos Protocol Upgrade — From Our Point of View

A few days ago, Nomadic Labs published a deep dive into the upcoming protocol upgrade proposals that the team will submit via Tezos’ On-chain Governance: an increase of the gas limits and a decrease in roll sizes (from 10,000 XTZ to 8,000 XTZ per roll).

At Cryptium Labs, following our Tezos On-chain Governance Policy [The Process], we published an objective analysis of Athens [Step 1], and with the current article we express our opinion on Athens [Step 2]. As this article is not necessarily our final decision [Step 4], you can find the link to our Tezos On-chain Governance GitHub Repository at the bottom of this article [Step 3].

Drawing of the Parthenon — Ancient History Encyclopaedia

Views on the Increase in Gas Limits

We regard the increase of the gas limits as a technical change, impact of which is estimated to be very low for bakers. With the increased gas limits, should there be more complex transactions or a higher maximum in transactions included in every block, the required CPU cycles to execute them might slightly increase. However, it is unlikely to increase enough to impact full-node hardware requirements.

On the other hand, in the event of full blocks, the increase of gas limit would also increase the maximum amount of fees that every baker could earn. Moreover, considering that bootstrapping the Michelson application development is one of our priorities [Ecosystem Goals], an increase of the gas limits would enable more complex Michelson smart contracts and pave the way for more interesting applications on Tezos.

Views on the Decrease of Roll Size

We regard the decrease of Roll Size from 10,000 XTZ to 8,000 XTZ as a social change, with mild technical implications. On the bakers and non-validating full nodes side, the decrease in roll size is estimated to cause a minor increase in node storage requirements.

According to the benchmark that Nomadic wrote [Roll size migration], the new roll size is estimated to increase the migration time by ~10 seconds and the disk usage by ~340 MB. Considering the specifications of our hardware used for our bakery and full nodes, the latter increases will not cause much impact.

On the other hand, decreasing the roll size to 8,000 XTZ would mean that the minimum required to participate in consensus is lowered, enabling a larger set of Tezos holders to opt for solo-baking instead of using delegation services. In accordance with Our Vision, decentralisation and security are features that we wish to prioritise, which can be improved by having a larger set of bakers and higher geographical distribution: enabling additional solo-bakers is therefore beneficial. Furthermore, learning to solo-bake has been an efficient exercise for newcomers to learn about the Tezos stack. Fostering the ability of more Tezos holders to learn about the protocol is in alignment with our community development goals.

Views on the Proposal as a Whole

Going beyond the increase in gas limits and the decrease of the roll size, we regard Athens as the first proposals for upgrading the Tezos protocol. Being first inherently carries larger implications, such as testing the actual On-chain Governance process and setting a precedent for future protocol upgrades and proposals.

In alignment with our Goals with On-chain Governance [Technical Goals], although the specific changes that the Nomadic team has proposed are purposefully minor, the relevance for the broader ecosystem resides in the ability of witnessing and participating in the entire On-chain Governance process: from the preparations of a proposal (where one half is the code and other half is communication and coordination), the submission of the proposal (learning how to submit proposals and vote for them), and the amendment being fully integrated into the protocol.

Helping the Tezos protocol to evolve faster, in more impactful aspects (Proof-of-Stake, consensus, Sybil resistance, etc) is our highest priority. We find it important to set a successful precedent in order to bootstrap the core-protocol development ecosystem.

Conclusion & Next Steps

In our opinion, the increase of gas limits and decrease of roll sizes carry a very low impact from the technical perspective. However, the former could enable more complex smart contracts in Michelson, which is in alignment with our Ecosystem Goals (bootstrapping Michelson application development). In addition, the latter could enable a larger set of Tezos token holders to opt for solo-baking and their ability to learn about the Tezos stack through the process, which is in alignment with our community goals. Finally, the implications of Athens go beyond the two technical changes: testing from scratch the Tezos On-chain governance process and setting a positive precedent for future protocol upgrades.

At the time of writing, considering all the points above, we are in favour of both increase of gas limits and decrease of roll sizes.

However, this only constitutes [Step 2] in our On-chain Governance Policy. We have published a GitHub Repository dedicated to delegators who might want to express concerns or opinions [Step 3], use this Issue for Athens. We will use it as a signaling mechanism and take into consideration before we publish our final decision [Step 4], a week before casting our vote.

The publication of our final decision is conducted via our Twitter and our Tezos Telegram Group, if you are a delegator, make sure you are subscribed.