What would Ethereum layer 3 look like? Vitalik Buterin has ideas


Key points to remember

  • Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin published a blog post explaining how Layer 3 scaling solutions could work.
  • He stated that Layer 3 solutions cannot consist of stacked rollups, as this would not result in efficient data compression.
  • Buterin described two possibilities: Layer 3 platforms with specialized functions and batch verification contracts.

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Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin believes rollup stacking won’t effectively scale Ethereum, but he still has some ideas for the future of Layer 3 scaling.

Stacking Buterin question accumulations

Layer 2 platforms are still in their infancy, but Vitalik Buterin is already thinking about scaling to Layer 3.

In a blog post entitled “What type of Layer 3 makes sense?» Buterin meditated on ways that Layer 3 scaling solutions could help Ethereum process transactions more efficiently.

The Ethereum mainnet currently has a throughput of around 15 transactions per second. During peak periods, users face network congestion and extremely high gas prices because their transactions cannot fit in the available block space. In November 2021, users paid up to $62.11 for a token swap – a trade that currently costs about $1.36.

Layer 2 scaling solutions called “rollups” have been designed to mitigate this problem. Aggregates outsource a transaction’s computational data to another chain and then post an easily verifiable cryptographic transaction proof to the Ethereum mainnet. This allows transactions to be grouped together, which saves a significant amount of block space.

Buterin previously declared that rollups could help Ethereum achieve throughput of 100,000 transactions per second. Arbitrum, Optimism, Starknet, and zkSync are all examples of rollups.

However, stacking has limits. Buterin said in his latest blog post that rollups in their current form cannot simply be stacked on top of each other due to data compression issues.

Buterin argued that “data can be compressed once, but it cannot be compressed again”. If a second compressor provides an advantage, the logic for a second compressor can usually be built into the first compressor, he said.

Layer 3 provides alternatives

Instead of stacking the rollups, Buterin suggested assigning different purposes to layer 2 and its potential layer 3s.

In this case Layer 2 would be used for scaling. Meanwhile, Layer 3 would support other functions such as privacy-focused chains, non-EVM platforms, custom scaling solutions for specific applications, or validia (which is a other type of accumulation).

Buterin also suggested that Layer 3 systems could be created by modifying how rollups currently work. Some rollups, called ZK-Rollups must verify their state root proofs (a kind of cryptographic key) themselves.

Instead, Buterin argues for a new approach involving a “batch verifier contract” that specializes in verifying such evidence. This would significantly reduce gas prices for these scaling solutions without the need to establish a full EVM system as a middle layer. In effect, ZK-Rollups would become layer 3; there would be no need to build layer 3 on top of it.

Buterin also said that however Layer 3 solutions are built, they will allow sub-ecosystems to evolve within Layers 2.

This is because cross-domain operations could take place without necessarily going through the Ethereum mainnet, meaning transactions would become much cheaper. This would definitely be good news for Ethereum users.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this article, the author of this article owned BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies.

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