Coinbase addresses Geth dominance concerns with client diversity

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Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is working to add another Ethereum execution client to its infrastructure as critics continue to sound the alarm over Geth dominance across the ecosystem.

A post on X published on Jan. 22 drew attention to the exchange’s renewed efforts to move away from its total dependence on Go-Ethereum (Geth). As the thread details, Coinbase Cloud found that Geth was the only Ethereum execution client that met its technical requirements when it launched Ethereum staking.

“Although we’ve evaluated execution clients since 2020, none have met Coinbase Cloud’s requirements to date. Many other operators on the network have reached the same conclusion, which is part of the reason why 84% of Ethereum validators run Geth. However, the tide is turning,” the thread reads.

Geth is an Ethereum execution client that handles transactions, deployment and execution of smart contracts.

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Coinbase is now undertaking a technical assessment of alternative Ethereum execution clients with the intention of adding another to its infrastructure. The exchange is set to release a formal update on the process by the end of February 2024.

The exchange’s statement regarding its dependence on Geth was prompted by an X post from cryptocurrency investor Aftab Hossain. Posting from his DCInvestor profile, which has around 236,000 followers, Hossain unpacked his decision to unstake ETH from Coinbase due to its reliance on Geth:

“I can’t ignore the risks of what appears to be a single client staking setup (reliant on geth) at this time. If I have misinterpreted your architecture, please use this post as an opportunity to clarify it,” Hossain wrote.

The post drew a direct reply from Coinbase CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong, who noted that the exchange was looking into the matter. Hossain also had contact with Coinbase staking product lead John Zettler and protocol specialist Bienvenido (Ben) Rodriguez, with both indicating that the exchange is working to address community feedback.

Cointelegraph has reached out to Zettler and Coinbase regarding its reliance on Geth, potential alternatives and the potential risks of relying on a single execution client.

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Ethereum.org has a page dedicated to client diversity and estimates that 85% of all nodes operate on Geth. The page highlights the potential for a bug in Geth that affects transaction handling or execution payload could lead to consensus clients finalizing problematic or bugged transactions.

Concerns around execution client bugs are pertinent after Ethereum infrastructure firm Nethermind addressed a critical bug in several versions of its execution client that reportedly caused users to fail to process blocks on Ethereum on Jan. 22.

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