PoCo Series #10 — Moving towards layer 2, a Solidity Developer’s View

This article was first published on iExec - Medium

PoCo Series #10 — Moving towards layer 2, a Solidity Developer’s View

An Urgent Need for Scalability

I have been interested in blockchain scalability for a long time. Call me cheap, but I remember times when 10gwei/gas was too much for me. I would pay 2gwei/gas for some of my less-urgent transactions, such as when I configured my ENS domains.

People in this space have long been waiting for adoption, meaning widespread and mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. Giving wallets to the bankless, building auditable decentralized supply chains, reinventing liquid democracy through DAOs… We all have our dreams, and blockchain scalability is essential if we want to turn them into a reality.

Many solutions have been discussed, noticeably with state channels and plasma chains. They promised increased throughput by multiple orders of magnitude, with almost no added security assumption. However, the complexity of these solutions, particularly plasma, and the drawbacks associated (many plasma flavors dropped the account model of EVM in favor of a UTXO model) prevented them from being used in large scale applications.

POA sidechains such as xDai have been in production for a long time, and while they do not offer the security model of plasma and state channel (remember, sidechains are not layer 2) they are very easy to work with.

The initial security concerns about their centralization of consensus have limited sidechain adoption by large dapps. However, the desperate need for scalability has recently made people reconsider this solution, and dapps such as POAP are now moving to these much cheaper EVM chains.

The iExec Sidechain

At iExec we realized very early that gas cost may be an issue. When designing iExec, we chose to build the most powerful, secure, and feature-rich protocol possible, leaving a lot of room to grow. This comes at a cost since ...

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