Ethereum, the platform for smart contracts that powers decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), has a problem that can’t be solved entirely by layer-2 scaling platforms, according to Vitalik Buterin, its co-founder.
Buterin proposes two options to solve the problem. The first option is to constrain the mainnet and require all activity to take place on layer-2. This would necessitate reducing the mainnet’s gas-per-block target from 15 million to 1 million, with the sole purpose of layer-1 being to verify layer-2 protocols.
However, there are some drawbacks to this solution. It would render many existing L1-based applications economically unfeasible, and user funds could get stuck due to high fees. Migrating to a layer-2 project en masse is possible, but it would further complicate the process.
Buterin highlights that it’s essential for the Ethereum protocol to be easily verifiable on various devices, including laptops, phones, and browser extensions. However, individually syncing the data on-chain for the first time or after being offline for an extended period could take up to 54 seconds. This could prove challenging for a device’s browser or lead to rapid battery drain for portable devices.
The second option Buterin proposes involves verifying the mainnet using a zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) that uses Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge (SNARK). zkEVM can be used to verify the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) execution of an Ethereum block.