Layer 3 such a good idea? – The network Ethereum faced heavy congestion in previous bull run. Obviously, who says congestion says drastic increase in costs. To overcome this problem, many second layer solutions (layer 2) have emerged. Their goal is to improve the scalability of the network. Now that the second layers are starting to democratize, we are seeing the emergence of a new narrative, that of third layer solutions (layer 3).
Layer 2 and 3: what is it?
The network Ethereum is a cradle of innovation. However, the blockchain has many limitations, especially in terms of scalability. Therefore, many initiatives have emerged to improve performance.
Among these initiatives, the second layer solutions are the ones that have obtained the most enthusiasm. In practice, layer 2 aims to deport part of the transactions and logic outside the main Ethereum chain to chains evolving above the network.
For their part, these second layer solutions inherit security from Ethereum. Indeed, they regularly publish the transactions they record in compressed form on the Ethereum mainnet. This allows any external actor to freely check the status of the network. Just check out the proof posted on the mainnet.
Quickly, some developers imagined adding a degree of complexity to this diagram by proposing to stack these second layers. Thereby, we have seen the layer 3 thesis emerge.
For simplicity, the layer 3 will inherit the security of the layer 2 which themselves inherit the security of Ethereum.
However, although these solutions may be of interest in certain cases, they are not suitable for all situations. This is what has recently sought to demonstrate Vitalik Buterinthe co-founder of Ethereum in a article on his personal blog.
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The limits of layer 3: the data problem
Vitalik Buterin loves the idea of layer 3. However, he still identified some limitations to this architecture.
Indeed, layer 2 such as Rollups make it possible to solve scalability at two levels. On the one hand at the level of calculations to be performed and on the other at the level of data management.
Thus, SNARK cheat proofs help reduce calculations. These rely on a very small number of actors to process and verify each block. This allows the rest of the users to operate only a tiny amount of calculation.
“These systems, especially SNARKs, can evolve almost without limits; just create “a SNARK within a SNARK” to further reduce the number of calculations to a single proof. »
However, the situation is not so rosy on the data management side. Indeed, Rollups use different compression techniques to reduce the amount of data stored on the chain. However, the latter must also ensure that said data is available at all times so that users can access it to check the status of the rollup. Unfortunately, contrary to calculations, data compression cannot be repeated ad infinitum.
“Data can be compressed once, but it cannot be compressed again. If so, there is usually a way to integrate the logic of the second compressor into the first and get the same benefit by only compressing once. Therefore, “rollups on rollups” is not something that can actually provide big scalability gains. »
Layer 3: reduced interest in certain use cases
Be that as it may, Vitalik Buterin still underlines the interest of these layer 3 in certain very specific use cases. Thus, to support its statement, it is based on research conducted by the teams of Starkware, the company behind the second layer Starknet solution.
Three situations where Layer 3 have an interest
Indeed, based on their work, the layer 3 can have an interest in three distinct situations:
- Use L2 to improve scalability and L3 for custom functionality such as privacy. In this architecture, the L3s make it possible to create an environment dedicated to a specific application.
- The use of L2 for general scalability and L3 for custom scalability. This architecture could make it possible to develop environments that optimize scalability for a particular use case.
- Use L2 as a foundation for scalability without trust and L3 for scalability with unreliable trust. In this case, L3 will be mainly used for data management and will leave the scalability layer to L2.
“A three-layer scaling architecture that involves piling the same scaling scheme on top of itself usually doesn’t work very well. Rollups upon rollups, where both layers of rollups use the same technology, certainly don’t work. A three-layer architecture, where the second and third layer serve different purposes, can work, however. The “validiums” above the “rollups” make sense, though it’s unclear if they’re the best way to do things in the long run. »
For their part, the second layer solutions continue to evolve to improve the experience of their users. They solve the centralization problems they face. So the Iayer 2 Arbitrum recently rolled out its Nitro update which aims to drastically increase its performance.
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