Bitcoin Or Ethereum? Which Blockchain Is Heavier? BitMEX Research Reports

From times immemorial, the Bitcoin and Ethereum camps argue about nodes and their particular blockchains’ attributes. This mind-bending report by BitMEX Research will put the argument to rest. Surprisingly, they identify that the Bitcoin blockchain is still larger than the Ethereum one. This will quickly alter, however. BitMEX Research likewise concludes that size is not the ideal metric to compare both chains, due to the fact that “to learn useful information about the Ethereum network one needs to perform significantly more computations and generate far more data.”

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As to why individuals presume that Ethereum would be larger, BitMEX Research associates it to “failure to remember just how small Ethereum was a few years ago.” Then, they go to the history books:

“From 2015 to 2018, Bitcoin’s blockchain grew at a faster rate than Ethereum, then from 2018 to 2020 they seemed to grow in parallel. Finally, from late 2020 onwards, the Ethereum blockchain growth rate accelerated further and the growth rate is now far higher than Bitcoin. Ethereum’s cumulative blockchain size looks set to shortly overtake Bitcoin and accelerate far beyond it.”

And provide us this chart:

What precisely are we viewing in the chart? BitMEX Research describes:

“In both cases, for Bitcoin and Ethereum, the total blockchain size in the chart above contains all transaction data, this is all the data one needs to download from one’s peers to fully synchronize and verify the chain. This includes all the digital signatures authorizing each transaction.”

BitMEX Research On Bitcoin’s Blockchain

According to this Peter Szilagyi’s tweet, Ethereum’s head state needs 130GB of information. In Bitcoin, we can compare that to “the UTXO set size, the set of unspent Bitcoin outputs.” That weighs 4.6GB, which is “only around 1.2% of the size of the entire Bitcoin blockchain.” In Ethereum, the story is rather various. Those 130GB are “around 43% of the blockchain size, far higher than 1.2% on Bitcoin.”

Also, take into consideration that: 

“Bitcoin Core supports pruning the blockchain, where a node can discard old blockchain data and only retain some very recent transactions plus the UTXO set. This means that one can fully validate the entire Bitcoin blockchain and check the validity of new blocks, with well under 10GB of disk space.”

What About Ethereum’s Blockchain?

Let’s get something clear, both blockchains are rather various and we’re simply comparing them for sport. For example, in Ethereum, a node shops 2 kinds of databases, the blockchain and the state. “The state is computed from the transaction history and essentially contains: all Ethereum account balances, storage associated with every deployed Ethereum smart contract and account nonces.” 

Currently, the state is as heavy as the blockchain. “Only limited pruning or efficiencies are therefore possible when it comes to reducing the size of the head state. The head state is therefore likley to continue to grow over time.”

ETHUSD price chart for 11/27/2021 - TradingView

BTC rate chart on Bitbay | Source: BTC/USD on

After thoroughly evaluating the case, BitMEX Research reaches a conclusion:

“The comparison between the blockchain size for Ethereum and Bitcoin is not always particularly relevant. The Bitcoin blockchain is mostly sufficient to tell you all you need to know about the Bitcoin network. In contrast, the Ethereum blockchain itself is by no means sufficient to tell you much about the state of Ethereum, to do this one needs to compute and store much more data, otherwise you don’t know what many of the transactions are actually doing.”

Make of that what you will.

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It’s essential to understand that, for the sake of brevity, we avoided all the technical descriptions. Plus, we neglected worthwhile product that wasn’t pertinent to the conversation. We extremely suggest that you check out the entire report, it’s remarkable and it’ll provide you a clear image of how comprehensive BitMEX Research was.

Featured Image: Victor Freitas on Unsplash | Charts by TradingView and BitMEX Research

Michael Evans

Professional writer, editor, and producer with over a decade of experience. I'm an experienced editor who has written for a variety of publications, and I specialize in editing non-fiction articles, news, and business blogs.

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