Modular Blockchain: An Engineered Solution for Ethereum to Become the “World Computer”

The modular trend of blockchain

Looking at the development trend of Crypto in 2022, it is a bit far-fetched to build a new L1 public chain at this time, and the narrative of modular blockchain cannot be ignored.

After The Merge, the development route of Ethereum is more and more inclined towards the direction of Modular Blockchain. The main difference between a modular blockchain and a monolithic blockchain is that a monolithic blockchain simultaneously implements four functions of execution, settlement, consensus and data availability in a basic consensus layer, while a modular blockchain It is divided into multiple modules responsible for the realization of these functions. In fact, Ethereum is not the only one planning a modular architecture: Celestia, which first proposed the idea of ​​a modular blockchain, is building a data availability layer for Rollups based on the Cosmos ecosystem; Tezos is also embracing a Rollup-centric roadmap; NEAR is also Designing for data availability sharding. This article mainly discusses the modularization trend of Ethereum.

Modular Blockchain: An Engineered Solution for Ethereum to Become the "World Computer"

The current congestion status of Ethereum has reflected the shortcomings of the monolithic blockchain – poor scalability, non-customization, and high fees. The problem with monolithic blockchains is that there are many different tasks that must be performed at the consensus layer, and optimizing for just one of these functions cannot effectively improve the performance of the blockchain. Figuratively speaking, a monolithic blockchain is like a wooden barrel composed of 4 wooden boards. Its capacity (performance) depends on the shortest one. As long as there is one attribute short board, the overall performance will be short board. The “impossible triangle of the blockchain” also limits the possibility of achieving extreme development of all attributes at the same time, so simply scaling based on the idea of ​​a single-chip blockchain cannot solve the dilemma of Ethereum.

Modular Blockchain: An Engineered Solution for Ethereum to Become the "World Computer"

Modular hybrid expansion: layer1 (data sharding) + layer2 (rollups)

In fact, the modular blockchain is essentially a hybrid expansion scheme. At the 6th Blockchain Global Summit, Vitalik’s speech theme was “The Rise of the Ethereum Layer 2 Protocol Ecology”. At the meeting, Vitalik believed that the Ethereum ecosystem is not simply Layer 1 expansion or Layer 2 expansion, but a hybrid approach. way of expansion. The essence of the modular blockchain is similar to the mixed expansion of layer1 and layer2.

Ethereum’s Modular Architecture

The modular architecture design of Ethereum is mainly divided into four layers: execution layer, settlement layer, consensus layer, and data availability layer. At present, in many cases, the execution layer and the settlement layer are collectively called the execution layer in the industry, and the consensus layer and the data availability layer are collectively called the consensus layer.

Modular Blockchain: An Engineered Solution for Ethereum to Become the "World Computer"

Execution Layer : Responsible for processing transactions on the chain, executing orders on the chain and verifying the execution of transfers and smart contracts, mainly Rollup. After the modular blockchain develops to a certain stage, users usually interact with the blockchain based on the execution layer, including signing transactions, deploying smart contracts, and transferring assets. The execution layer addresses the scalability of the blockchain.

Settlement Layer : The settlement layer is used to verify the execution results of execution layers such as Rollup, resolve disputes, and settle state commitments.

Consensus Layer : The consensus layer downloads and executes the content of the block through the full-node network, reaches a consensus on the validity of the state transition, thus provides ordering and finality, and verifies the block with the PoS mechanism.

Data Availability Layer : guarantees that transaction data can be used (guaranteed to be stored and verifiable and available). The data required to verify the validity of state transitions needs to be published and stored in this layer. In the event of a malicious block proposer withholding transaction data, the data in the data availability layer can be used for verification.

In the foreseeable short to medium term after The Merge, Ethereum’s settlement layer, consensus layer, and data availability layer are unified. In the future Danksharding will transform the data sharding of Ethereum L1 into a data availability engine, the beacon chain as a consensus layer, the original Ethereum mainnet as an execution layer, and more execution layers as L2 Rollups . In addition, on the basis of the current L2, the industry has begun to explore customized L3, which will also be an extension of the execution layer.

If the current Ethereum is just a theoretical “world computer”, then the modular blockchain is an engineering solution for Ethereum to become a “world computer”.

Ethereum’s next plan

As we all know, The Merge is about converting from PoW to PoS, Beacon Chain merged with the original Ethereum main chain. In addition to The Merge, Ethereum is actually simultaneously advancing The Surge, The Verge, The Purge, and The Splurge in parallel. The order in which these upgrades will be rolled out is uncertain, as they are running independently of each other and in parallel.

Modular Blockchain: An Engineered Solution for Ethereum to Become the "World Computer"

The Surge is about introducing sharding, which will allow the Ethereum network to massively scale through sharding.

The Verge is about Verkle Trees to help optimize storage on Ethereum and help reduce node size. This upgrade will focus on optimizing storage via Verkle Trees, a mathematical proof that is an upgrade to Merkle Trees. By reducing the amount of data validators need to store on their computers to run operations, the node size will shrink and allow more users to become validators. This will further decentralize the network and improve security.

The Purge will reduce the hard drive space required by validators as historical data and technical debt are eliminated. This means storage simplification, which reduces network congestion.

The Splurge is a series of tweaks to the Ethereum network, containing various smaller upgrades to make the Ethereum network smoother.

Vitalik said that after completing the above five key stages, Ethereum can achieve 100,000 TPS and truly become the “world computer” he originally envisioned.

Although the names of the above five parallel key stages rhyme, it may be difficult to understand the specific plans of Ethereum in the next three or four years. If we take out the more critical and specific upgrade events, we may be able to see the modularization trend of Ethereum more clearly :

1、Proto-danksharding(EIP-4844)

Proto-danksharding is a proposal to implement most of the logic and basic rules (eg: transaction format, validation rules, etc.) that make up the full Danksharding specification, but no sharding has been implemented yet at this stage. During the Proto-danksharding phase, all validators and users must still directly verify the availability of complete data.

The main feature introduced by Proto-danksharding is a new transaction type called “transactions that carry blobs”. A transaction that carries a blob is similar to a regular transaction, the main difference being that it also carries an extra piece of data called a blob. Blobs are about 128kb, much cheaper than Calldata of similar size. But EVM execution cannot access blob data, EVM can only view promises to blobs.

At present, the block size of Ethereum is determined by the gas capacity. After the implementation of EIP-4844, the number of Blobs will become another dimension that determines the block size . Blob is a binary data structure with a size of about 128kb. The Ethereum block has a limit on the number of Blobs that can be accommodated in each block. The target number of Blobs is 8, and the maximum can be 16. Therefore, each block An additional 1-2MB (128*8-128*16) of storage space will be added.

Blob is mainly used to store the data of Layer2. Before that, the storage of Layer2 data was realized through Calldata . With the introduction of blobs, the space available for storage within a block will be greatly increased. However, due to the large size of Blob data, if an additional 1MB of Blob data is added to each block, the Ethereum blockchain will add several terabytes of data a month. In order to solve the problem of rapid increase in data volume, these Blob data will be It is stored offline and automatically deleted after 30 days .

Since Blob data does not compete with the gas usage of existing Ethereum transactions, significant scaling can still be achieved. If you want to understand the EIP-4844 proposal of Proto-Danksharding relatively simply, it can be understood as – on the basis of maintaining a block size of 1MB, the Ethereum layer1 adopts a 30-day short-term, offline storage method in the form of Blob To store the data of Layer2, in order to achieve the effect of expansion.

2、Danksharding

Danksharding is a new sharding design proposed for Ethereum. The previously planned sharding was State Sharding. Later, the roadmap centered on Rollups was decided. After implementing the layer1 (data sharding) + layer2 (rollups) modular hybrid expansion plan, the data sharding (Data Sharding) was implemented. Sharding). Data sharding is essentially the idea of ​​a modular blockchain, dividing Ethereum into multiple data shards, each data shard is connected to one or more Rollups, Rollup as the execution layer, Ethereum as the consensus layer and data availability layer .

The core mechanisms introduced by Danksharding are mainly: PBS and DAS.

PBS (Proposer builder separation) refers to the separation of the block proposer and the block builder when building blocks . Proposer proposes blocks, Builder bids for the ordering rights of transactions and calculates block headers. Proposer packages transactions according to Builder’s calculation results and writes block headers into blocks to complete block generation. Block proposers before PBS (Miner before Merge, Validator after Merge) can get the chance of getting MEV by looking at what transactions are in the mempool and adopting some strategies to maximize their mining revenue. After the introduction of the PBS mechanism, this role separation mechanism combined with the auction mechanism of the Builder’s sorting rights can solve the MEV problem to a certain extent, and the final MEV revenue will be shared by the verifiers of the entire network. In addition, PBS also helps to solve the synchronization problem between sharding and the beacon chain, the censorship resistance of the Ethereum network, etc.

Modular Blockchain: An Engineered Solution for Ethereum to Become the "World Computer"

DAS (Data Availability Sampling) is an effective way to solve the state explosion of the blockchain . Having validators check block availability, by using DAS checks, light clients can verify that a block has been published by downloading only some randomly selected blocks. Since DAS can perform parallel verification of block data, even if the number of data sharding (Data Sharding) is large in the future, it will not increase the burden of a single verification node, but will stimulate more verification nodes to join, thereby ensuring the verification node’s Fully decentralized.

Ultimately, Danksharding can achieve centralized block production of Ethereum through PBS, decentralized verification through DAS , and a certain degree of censorship resistance, thus ensuring that Ethereum becomes a scalable consensus layer and data availability layer, and can undertake More Rollups live at the execution layer. (PS: Centralized block production and decentralized verification are also Vitalik’s vision for the future development of Ethereum in Endgame.)

Summarize

In fact, I have always felt that the founding team of Ethereum is very sentimental, and there are many details that make me think that they will not forget their original intentions and forge ahead.

Among the previous upgrades of Ethereum, there are three upgrades that impressed me: the Byzantine hard fork with a height of 4.37 million blocks, the Constantinople hard fork with a height of 7.28 million blocks, and the hard fork with a height of 9.069 million blocks. Istanbul network upgrade.

Interestingly enough, Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul are the same city. The city spans across Europe and Asia, bordering the Golden Horn in the north, the Sea of ​​Marmara in the south, and the Asia Minor Peninsula in the east across the sea, and is only connected to the land in the west. Napoleon once said generously about the city: “If the world is a country, its capital must be Istanbul”. This ancient city has built a subtle connection with the blockchain world because of Ethereum. The naming of these three upgrades also conveys a message that Ethereum is always the same.

Maybe Ethereum’s modular blockchain road will not go so fast, but what is certain is that no matter the big theme, The Merge, The Surge, The Verge, The Purge, The Splurge, etc. aim to achieve 100,000 TPS The fifth stage is still the specific key upgrade Proto-danksharding, Danksharding, the ultimate goal is to promote Ethereum to realize the original intention of “world computer”.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/modular-blockchain-an-engineered-solution-for-ethereum-to-become-the-world-computer/
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