Layer-2 Protokolle verstehen

In the first post of this series we have something about Layer One Protocols and learned about application layers in general - the masking solutions responsible for hiding the underlying operations of a system for ease of use and understanding by the end user.

In the context of blockchain, layers help establish protocols that define how a given network works and how users interact within that network. Layer-one protocols specifically refer to a system that interfaces with the base, or underlying architecture, of a blockchain network that establishes rules and parameters such as consensus algorithm and block time.

Now we will go a step further to examine layer 2 protocols and how they fit into the equation to scale blockchain network growth and efficiency.

What are layer 2 protocols?

Layer 2 protocols, also known as second layer solutions or off-chain blockchain protocols, aim to handle transaction processing on behalf of the backbone network.

In most cases, Layer 2 protocols are designed to solve the scalability limitations and operational difficulties of the native platform and typically strive to increase transaction speeds on large blockchain networks.

None of the existing layer-one protocols have yet to be scaled to the level consistent with global usage without compromising other blockchain attributes such as decentralization and security. Because of this, many developers have started exploring the idea of Layer 2 solutions.

Layer 2 protocol examples

To further illustrate the concept and application of Layer 2 protocols, here are some examples intended to provide increased throughput for blockchain systems.

State Channels

State channels allow users to perform operations directly with each other on a layer separate from the main blockchain (hence the term "off-chain"). Government channels report results to the blockchain only when the channel is closed.

Among the most notable Layer 2 protocols utilizing state channels is this Lightning Network, a payment channel that works on top of the Bitcoin blockchain to process multiple small off-chain transactions, which in turn frees up the main chain for larger transactions.

The Lightning Network can handle millions of transactions per second cost-effectively and efficiently. The concept is similar to that of a bar tab, where it's more efficient to wait until the end of the night to close than to do it every time you order a drink.

Plasma

Another good example of a layer 2 protocol is Plasma - a scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain that aims to drastically increase the efficiency of the network (or any other blockchain) by taking most of the processing tasks off the main chain.

Plasma provides a generalized framework that supports the creation of other child chains or sidechains powered by Ethereum. It uses Merkle trees and smart contracts to essentially build stripped down versions of the Ethereum network.

These child chains are designed to operate a bespoke smart contract, allowing users to deploy the plasma structure in a way that best suits their individual needs. By leveraging the security of the main chain, Plasma is able to deploy a variety of different child chains that would work toward specific goals in a predetermined manner, making the main Etherum blockchain less congested.

Optimistisches Rollup (OR)

Optimistic Rollup Considered the successor to Plasma, it is an off-chain technology designed to improve Ethereum's smart contracts and DApp ecosystem by scaling. Funds settled on ORs are stored in a smart contract on Ethereum where users deposit funds, aggregators sign up, and fraud proofs are perpetrated.

Optimistic rollups will allow Ethereum to scale up to 200-2,000 transactions per second compared to its current rate of just 10-20 per second, representing a dramatic increase in network throughput.

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