An article to understand the technical solution to reduce the GAS fee for operations on the NFT chain

The blockchain-based digital collection market is one of the most important application scenarios of NFT technology. However, the high cost of on-chain transaction fees (gas) hinders the development of the digital collection market to a certain extent. This paper lists some cutting-edge technical solutions to solve the problem of high gas cost in the current digital collection market.

Abstract: The blockchain-based digital collection market is one of the most important application scenarios of NFT technology. However, the high cost of on-chain transaction fees (gas) hinders the development of the digital collection market to a certain extent. This article lists some cutting-edge technical solutions to solve the problem of high gas cost in the current digital collection market, including: off-chain, on-chain, multi-chain deployment, side-chain, Layer 2, and cross-chain, etc. At the same time, it looks forward to the future. some technological development directions.

Digital Collection Market and On-Chain Fees

The blockchain-based digital collection market is one of the most important application scenarios of NFT technology. As NFT technology is applied to various practical application scenarios, the usage of the digital collection market is also rising. Taking Ethereum as an example, according to ultrasound.money data, from the implementation of EIP-1559 in Ethereum to the end of December 16, 2021, the gas consumption of OpenSea in the digital collection market has reached about 126,414 ETH, which is more than ordinary on-chain transfers and Uniswap. , becoming the largest gas-consuming application.

So, what is “gas”? Why is the gas consumption of the digital collection market so large?

The so-called “gas” is the term for on-chain fees on blockchain platforms such as Ethereum. On-chain fees are one of the most common technical features of blockchain platforms. The operation of transactions on the chain, including simple transfers or the operation of complex smart contracts, will use corresponding blockchain resources such as computing and storage; users who initiate these transactions on the chain will pay for the consumption of these blockchain resources. Corresponding on-chain fees. The blockchain uses this mechanism to incentivize the maintainers of the blockchain network, while preventing the blockchain network from being attacked by malicious users DDoS, maliciously running infinite loop codes, etc. Therefore, it can be said that the on-chain fee plays a very necessary and positive role in ensuring the normal operation of the blockchain network.

However, some complex on-chain processes also bring high on-chain transaction fees to users. Taking the digital collection market of Ethereum as an example, users usually need to consume gas in multiple links such as creation, listing authorization, and transfer. For example, in the transfer link, users usually need to consume about 0.02 ETH of gas (according to the gas price at that time. There are differences. Gas price refers to the unit price of the transaction fee on the chain). When the activity time of some digital collection applications was relatively concentrated, the overall gas price of Ethereum also soared.

An article to understand the technical solution to reduce the GAS fee for operations on the NFT chain

On August 26, the digital collection app caused the gas price to soar to 1,429 GWei at one point, about ten times more than usual

These gas generally need to be paid by users of digital collection applications. Obviously, excessive gas will hinder the further use and development of the digital collection market, and may also affect the use of other applications of the blockchain network (for example, the application of Ethereum cat at the end of 2017 congested the Ethereum network). At present, the digital collectible market has carried out some technical explorations to save and reduce gas.

Gas saving technical solutions

To a certain extent, the high gas problem of digital collections is caused by the large amount of data in digital collections, complex business processes, and the need to improve the performance and scalability of the blockchain network represented by Ethereum. In order to solve these problems, we can refer to various methods to solve scalability technology and improve efficiency accordingly. Some of the current technical exploration directions include: off-chain methods, on-chain methods, multi-chain deployment, side chains, Layer 2, and cross-chain methods.

An article to understand the technical solution to reduce the GAS fee for operations on the NFT chain

A solution to reducing gas in the digital collection market (Source: Boundary Research Institute)

off-chain

Since gas is generated on the chain, the most natural idea is to use the off-chain method as much as possible. The main solutions include two types: placing some processes on the original chain off-chain for processing, and delaying some processes on the chain.

Part of the process is placed outside the chain

Combined with off-chain process processing to reduce some on-chain steps. Taking Nifty Gateway as an example, by placing some exchange steps outside the chain to reduce on-chain processing steps, the cost reduction goal is achieved. For example, an exchange that originally required a total of 10 steps of on-chain operations, through Nifty Gateway’s optimization of the exchange process, 3 to 4 steps can be carried out outside the chain; only the steps that must be confirmed by consensus on the blockchain are reserved on the chain, so that To reduce the overall on-chain processing cost [1].

Some processes are delayed

Postponing the execution of part of the process and letting the business process run first, so that creators of digital collections can create and publish first at a lower cost, is an encouraging method that can provide creators with a more friendly experience. A typical representative of this type of scheme is OpenSea’s Lazy Minting. It adopts a centralized method, which supports creators to create content for free and put it on the shelves for sale. OpenSea uses a centralized method to store and process it first, and then confirm it on the chain (gas consumption) in the transaction and other links. Only when the buyer and the seller complete the digital collection delivery through blockchain consensus.

But this type of approach does not completely solve the cost problem. Lazy Minting mainly delays the timing of mint and allows buyers to bear it, and does not strictly reduce the overall cost.

Optimization of this chain

Optimize code writing

The generation of Gas is mainly due to the consumption of blockchain resources such as computing and storage during the operation of smart contracts. Before the digital collection is created, the optimization of code writing can reduce the gas cost to a certain extent. Some optimization methods include choosing to use a suitable code base during development (for example, using ERC721A instead of ERC721Enumerable), and using optimization tools such as Truffle during compilation [2][3].

batch aggregation

For digital collections that have been deployed on the chain, batching, aggregation, etc. can be used to reduce the overall cost. Taking Genie as an example, this aggregation tool supports the packaging of multiple operations for different digital collections in different markets into one transaction, and uses some off-chain methods to reduce the average cost of a single operation [4]. 

Multichain

In addition to optimizing all aspects of computing and storage in this chain, a relatively straightforward and simple method is to integrate multiple blockchain networks on the application side; users can choose the appropriate network when using.

Taking OpenSea as an example, in addition to the Ethereum platform, OpenSea also provides the option of the Polygon network. When the cost of the Ethereum network is high, users can choose to switch to the Polygon network on the OpenSea application.

Sidechain/Layer 2 way

In addition to directly integrating multi-chain networks at the application level, another application option is to start from the blockchain protocol layer and transfer many businesses and processes of digital collections to the side chain or Layer 2 to reduce costs, etc. [5] ]. Usually, such solutions also provide cross-chain transfer tools between sidechains, Layer2 and the original chain.

side chain

The side chain usually refers to a blockchain network that is parallel to the main chain and has a two-way bridge function. Ethereum’s sidechains include xDai, Skale, POA Network, and more. At present, some digital collection markets will choose side chains to reduce the cost of digital collections on the main chain.

A typical case is nifty.ink. It supports users to create and manage artworks on the xDai sidechain, including on-chain mint, transfer, and more. And if users want to transfer digital collection works to Ethereum, they can transfer (upgrade) to Ethereum through AMB bridge tool, such as publishing to OpenSea market [6].

Other similar cases include Axie Infinity using Ronin sidechains, etc.

Layer2

Similar to side chains, some digital collection markets have chosen the Layer2 technical route to reduce costs. One of the more typical cases is Immutable X, which is designed for digital collection applications and based on ZK Rollup and its own digital collection market. Other solutions include selecting various digital collection markets and applications on Arbitrum [7].

Cross-chain

In addition to solving the problem of value and data flow, cross-chain technology can also be used as one of the solutions to solve the cost problem of digital collections. To solve the scalability problem of blockchain and the “impossible triangle” paradox, the solution of cross-chain protocol + application-specific chain is a very good choice.

Similar to the sidechain and Layer2 solutions, the digital collection market can be deployed on an application-specific chain with lower usage costs; and when it needs to be transferred on a larger scale, it can be transferred through a cross-chain protocol.

Some of the current cross-chain digital collection solutions mainly use centralized gateways or cross-chain bridges. However, the IBC/TIBC cross-chain protocol based on fully decentralized verification can already support the cross-chain transfer of non-homogeneous data content. For example, in 2021, after the registration and confirmation of Chinese traditional cultural digital artworks on the BSN Wenchang chain, IDA will rely on the TIBC cross-chain protocol and cross-chain hub in a cross-chain form to transfer from the BSN Wenchang chain to the world through the cross-chain service hub. market [8].

Summary Outlook

The on-chain cost problem of digital collections is, to a certain extent, the epitome of the performance and scalability problems of blockchain networks represented by Ethereum. Fortunately, the rapid development of Layer 2, cross-chain and other underlying technologies in recent years, the on-chain application and the prosperity of the ecology have provided practical solutions for the current application of digital collections. The current solutions include centralized delayed processing, optimization of processing on this chain, deployment of multiple chains, use of side chains and Layer 2 extension technologies outside the chain, and cross-chain protocols.

It should be pointed out that some current technical implementations still have areas that are worthy of improvement, such as excessive centralization (such as some cross-chain bridges) and potential technical security risks; the cross-chain approach of fully decentralized digital collections based on IBC/TIBC has emerged, and it remains to be seen. Further support for more applications; there is room for improvement in Rollup-based digital collection support technology [9].

However, with the continuous development and improvement of blockchain scalability and cross-chain technology, the support of related technologies for the application of digital collections will be more complete, and the technical solutions will be more diverse.

References

[1] https://decrypt.co/87515/nifty-gateway-ethereum-gas-fees-nft-trading-investing

[2] https://mirror.xyz/davidcai.eth/cO1XOsvg0NvW9um1unIip7okeK6r1LaZ5FzbhTG9CSg

[3] https://medium.com/@kaymonft/optimizing-nft-smart-contracts-to-reduce-gas-usage-7f4e819eb49d

[4] https://genielabs.notion.site/Genie-FAQ-aaa4c154dc52451fbcb3451e7ab7364f

[5] https://newsletter.banklesshq.com/p/how-to-collect-nfts-on-layer-2

[6] https://docs.tokenbridge.net/amb-bridge/about-amb-bridge

[7] https://newsletter.banklesshq.com/p/the-arbitrum-nft-scene

[8] Integrated digital artwork supported by TIBC cross-chain protocol and cross-chain hub

[9] https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin/status/1435413681588736007

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