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What Would Ethereum Layer 3 Look Like? Vitalik Buterin Has Some Ideas

Key Takeaways

  • Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has published a blog post outlining 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 outlined two possibilities: Layer 3 platforms with specialized functions and batch verifier contracts.

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Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin believes that stacking rollups will not effectively scale Ethereum—but he still has some ideas about the future of Layer 3 scaling.

Buterin Questions Rollup Stacking

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

In a blog post titled “What kind of layer 3s make sense?”, Buterin has discussed ways in which Layer 3 scaling solutions could help Ethereum process transactions more efficiently.

Ethereum’s mainnet currently has a throughput of about 15 transactions per second. During periods of high activity, users face network congestion and extremely high gas prices as their transactions cannot fit into available block space. In November 2021, users paid as much as $62.11 for a token swap—an operation that currently costs about $1.36.

Layer 2 scaling solutions called “rollups” were designed to alleviate this problem. Rollups outsource a transaction’s computational data to another chain, then post an easily verifiable cryptographic transaction proof to Ethereum’s mainnet. This allows transactions to be bundled together, saving a significant amount of block space.

Buterin previously stated that rollups could help Ethereum reach a throughput of 100,000 transactions per second. Arbitrum, Optimism, StarkNet, and zkSync are all examples of rollups.

However, rollups have limitations. Buterin said in his latest blog post that rollups in their current form cannot simply be stacked on top of one another because of data compression issues.

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

Layer 3 Provides Alternatives

Instead of stacking rollups, Buterin has suggested assigning different purposes to Layer 2 and its potential Layer 3 networks.

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, customized scaling…

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