Maximum Block Body Size

Cardano Network Parameters Part 13

Cardano has approximately 30 parameters. Each parameter plays a role in shaping the network’s functionality, governance, economics, and performance. Among these, the maxBlockBodySize or max_block_size parameter is one of the famous (or infamous) parameters among developers and entrepreneurs. The maxBlockBodySize plays an integral role to Cardano’s efficiency, security, and scalability.

What is the maxBlockBodySize, and why might a budding entrepreneur, developer or all of us vested in the Cardano ecosystem take a minute to understand it?

For the uninitiated, let’s first start with some basics. A blockchain acts as a decentralized database - a ledger of transactions spread across numerous computers worldwide. Each transaction, be it a transfer, a vote, or a computer code execution, gets recorded in blocks. These blocks are linked sequentially, forming the blockchain. In the previous installment of this series we learned about the block header parameter and function. Well, attached to the header and forming the rest of the block is the “body.” The “body” of each block encapsulates the details of transactions, including data and execution outcomes, making it crucial for the network’s operation.

The maxBlockBodySize parameter defines the upper limit for the size of a block’s body.

This cap is not just a random figure but a carefully calibrated value designed to optimize the network’s throughput and security. A larger block body can hold more transactions, potentially increasing the network’s capacity to process and validate activities efficiently. However, this also demands greater computational power to manage and disseminate information across the network, which could, in turn, affect the system’s speed and accessibility.

On the flip side, a smaller maxBlockBodySize might streamline the validation and propagation process by limiting the amount of transaction data each block can contain. This could enhance the system’s responsiveness but at the expense of the network’s capacity to handle transactions. Thus, finding the optimal maxBlockBodySize is critical for maintaining Cardano’s high standards of efficiency and security, striking a balance that supports the network’s scalability and user demands.

Wars have been fought on picking the ideal block size.

On the Bitcoin network, the longest running blockchain network, wars have been fought on picking the ideal block size. This configuration of blockchain is one of the few settings that generally cannot be undone or reversed. As a result, the network has split at least 4 times, creating different flavors of Bitcoin including Bitcoin XT (2014), Bitcoin Classic (2016), Bitcoin Unlimited (2016), and Bitcoin Cash (2017). These specific splits were all direct results of disagreement on what the Bitcoin block size should be.

On Cardano, there’s yet to be splinter groups, or splitting of the Cardano network, even though the network has seen 60 parameter changes, including 3 changes to the maxBlockBodySize in November 2021, February 2022, and April 2022, increasing each time to 73728, 81920, and 90112 bytes respectively.

Why does this matter?

The essence of blockchain technology lies in its dynamic and evolving nature. The maxBlockBodySize parameter is a testament to Cardano’s commitment to continuous improvement and adaptability. By adjusting this parameter, Cardano demonstrates its dedication to staying at the cutting edge of blockchain innovation, ensuring that it can meet the ever-growing needs of its user base without compromising its foundational principles.

Why should you care?

For stakeholders in the Cardano ecosystem, understanding the maxBlockBodySize offers valuable insights into the network’s operational capabilities and its potential for future growth. It underscores the meticulous engineering and foresight that underpin Cardano’s status as an innovation engine in the blockchain domain. As the network evolves, such parameters will play a crucial role in shaping its path forward, influencing factors ranging from transaction throughput to the overall robustness of the system.


The maxBlockBodySize parameter is far more than a mere technical specification within the Cardano blockchain. It reflects the network’s relentless pursuit of excellence and balance. As Cardano continues to pioneer what’s possible with blockchain, keeping abreast of these parameters offers a window into that rapidly evolving future.


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