According to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum layer-2 ecosystem is growing and diversifying. In his recent blog post, Buterin predicts that as new scaling solutions emerge, there will be more diversity in layer 2 designs based on specific security and cost tradeoffs.
Different layer-2 constructions like rollups, validiums, and sidechains offer different balances between decentralization, security, and scalability. Applications such as financial apps prioritize security guarantees, while social media and gaming platforms are willing to tolerate some downtime for lower fees.
Buterin suggests that projects shifting from independent layer-1s to Ethereum layer-2s should adopt a gradual, multi-stage approach. Moving all activity to a rollup at once would impact usability, but waiting too long might mean missing out on opportunities. Even centralized projects and niche layer-1s desire a certain level of decentralization for added security without sacrificing high throughput.
Interaction of Different Layer-2s with Ethereum
Validiums ensure correct computation without storing all data directly on Ethereum by utilizing zero-knowledge proofs. This reduces costs compared to rollups, but there is a risk of data availability if operators fail to make data accessible. Rollups, on the other hand, guarantee users can always withdraw funds to the Ethereum mainnet.
Disconnected systems like sidechains offer even lower costs but require trust in a small set of validators. Hybrid approaches, such as validiums that allow users to pay for periodic Ethereum data availability, are also emerging.
Buterin emphasizes the importance of external chains maintaining strong connections to Ethereum. This reduces security risks when bridging Ethereum-native assets and enables shared account abstractions across chains.
Validating bridges can provide security similar to validiums by proving correct state transitions. However, handling edge cases like 51% attacks requires social commitment to coordinate upgrades. It is also crucial to read Ethereum data and revert when Ethereum reverts. Chains that only read Ethereum’s finalized blocks avoid some complexity but sacrifice functionality during periods of low finality.
In conclusion, Buterin recognizes the value of various layer-2 designs. Applications will continue to customize solutions based on their specific security, scalability, and decentralization requirements. However, maintaining connections to Ethereum brings benefits regardless of the chosen architecture. Buterin believes that as technology advances, projects can gradually strengthen their ties to Ethereum over time.