• Ethereum network developers have proposed a second 'fuel' dubbed 'Oil.'
  • Oil will work in parallel with gas, limiting readjustments.
  • Backwards compatibility issues will likely arise when ETH 2.0 launches its mainnet.

A proposal to add a second fuel source for the Ethereum network has recently been submitted by a developer to run in parallel to its existing fuel, gas.

The Ethereum network is due to undergo a raft of changes this year. The most eagerly awaited upgrade is the shift to proof-of-stake consensus under the new ETH 2.0 blockchain. Phase 0 on the Serenity roadmap is already operating on a testnet, but there are still other proposals coming down the pipeline.

Ethereum Oils the Gears

A proposal to add a second fuel source to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) has just been submitted. Independent researcher and software developer, Alexey Akhunov (@realLedgerwatch), who devised the upgrade, tweeted the proposal.

The suggestion has yet to make it as an official EIP (Ethereum Improvement Proposal) but is now being researched and discussed. The motivation arises from a need to prevent repeatedly adjusting gas costs for operations on the network.

Gas is currently used for two different purposes; paying for computation and storage resources, as well as preventing reentrancy by hardwiring the amount of gas a call can use.

Due to the way that smart contracts are written, adjusting the gas schedule to better reflect resource usage causes unintended consequences, the brief added.

‘Oil,’ a name suggested by Ethereum Foundation technical writer Griffin Hotchkiss, has been proposed to run in parallel with gas. The comments that followed appear more concerned with the name than the technicalities of what was trying to be achieved. Akhunov elaborated;

This has materialised as a part of Stateless Ethereum research, as part of recognition that block witness will need to be paid for, but adjusting gas costs could be quite a painful way to do it. Instead, one would adjust oil costs,

A specification and example of how the new fuel would work in tandem with gas were included in the proposal. Oil would primarily take over the main transactional purpose of gas, leaving the secondary purpose to the existing gas, Akhunov added.

Backward Compatibility Issues

The proposal is one of many that will emerge in the coming months to deal with backward compatibility. When the new ETH 2.0 blockchain goes live on the mainnet, there will be issues with smart contracts written for ETH 1.0.

In essence, they will need to be re-written for the new chain and its sidechains (shards), when those stages are rolled out. Using a second fuel may ease some of those issues that will likely arise down the line.

Martin Young

Martin has been writing on cyber security and infotech for two decades. He has previous trading experience and has been covering the blockchain and crypto industry for the past three years.

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