Polygon Research: Ethereum Scaling Framework


Since the launch of Ethereum in July 2015, and after the network started seeing considerable network effects, the focus of the Ethereum community and other core developers around the world shifted to scaling.

But what is Scaling?

As transactions on Ethereum, the global supercomputer rise, users send out txns with higher gas fees in order to have them prioritized first. This leads to limited block space quickly filling up, resulting in ‘gas wars’ that make it expensive and slow to transact on this global computer.

Scaling so far

Researchers have come up with many interesting ways to alleviate this problem with approaches like Plasma generating a lot of interest in 2017. Today zk Rollups, Optimistic Rollups, side-chains and solutions like Polygon’s commit-chain are bringing tremendous scale to Dapps and enabling experiences not possible a few years ago.

What’s the best one?

There are a lot of factors to evaluate when it comes to evaluating a scaling solution, it also depends on your perspective: are you a user or a developer? In this piece, we’ll try to look at how developers can choose the best scaling solution to fit their requirements.

The Ethereum Scaling Framework

We aim to look at the problem of scaling from the eyes of a developer: what factors should you consider while picking a scaling solution?

From a developer or Dapp’s perspective, we can look at scaling from four different perspectives: Ease of Development, Security, User Experience, and Long Term Feasibility.

  1. Ease of Development

A big facet of how developers choose a solution is how easy it is to build on top of it. This includes factors like the programming environment and compatibility with existing tooling and infrastructure.

For instance, a commit-chain like Polygon offers 100% EVM compatibility, which means the same code used on Ethereum can be deployed on Polygon without any changes to the code. This also means that all the existing tooling and infrastructure on Ethereum is compatible out of the box with Polygon.

On the other hand, the entry barrier for a ZK Rollups dev would be much higher due to changes required in the code and a lack of a comprehensive tooling infrastructure.

2. Security Level

Depending on the purpose of your project, the security required for the on-chain functions may vary. For eg., a DeFi protocol may have billions of dollars locked in its contracts.

In such cases, zk and Optimistic Rollups would provide higher security.

3. User Experience

The experience of the end-user that uses the Dapp is another important point for a developer to consider. Factors like what operations are natively supported and the confirmation times associated with a transaction will determine the end-user experience while using Dapps.

An NFT or Gaming Dapp will potentially have lower stakes in their on-chain contracts, which means a side-chain/commit-chain like solution would fit better with medium security, but a better UX thanks to faster withdrawals.

4. Long Term Feasibility

Another criterion to look at should be the long term feasibility of the solution. Will the solution be able to scale when mass user adoption picks up?

Eg. If we look at a ZKR based Dapp that does huge transaction volume, how will the required proofs be generated? Even with parallelism and recursive proofs, the developer would need to have a concrete model on how parallel threads communicate, how jobs are divided, etc. to truly scale. Any computational scaling solution will also need to think about how to handle storage. High txn volume results in huge amounts of data which will ultimately need to be stored on Ethereum or a similar data availability layer.

Ultimately, it is important a developer always makes this choice keeping the end-user in mind, is the user looking for security, ease of use or a balance of both?

In the near future, we expect to see smooth transitions of Dapps between multiple scaling options as per requirements, with developments and toolkits like the Polygon SDK. The problems with data storage on Ethereum will also be eased with distributed data availability layers like Avail and Celestia.

More from the Polygon Blog
The Many Lives of Tokens

Tokens are the élan vital of Web3 networks, and projects are often perceived through the price at which they trade. But token price, subject to market sentiment and speculation, is not synonymous with token value. To understand the fundamentals, we must first unpack the different ways that value accrues to tokens in the new Internet […]

Read More
Going Beyond the Green Manifesto: Our New Impact Commitment 

With Ethereum’s Merge finally upon us, we’ve been thinking about how this historic milestone will affect our sustainability efforts. Polygon’s initial commitment to become carbon neutral and eventually carbon negative was largely addressing emissions generated by our relationship with Ethereum. The Merge dramatically changes that equation. Ethereum’s transition from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake consensus, known as […]

Read More
Starbucks Taps Polygon for Its 'Starbucks® Odyssey' Web3 Experience 

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Starbucks Coffee Company is working with Polygon to provide the blockchain technology to build its recently announced Web3 experience, Starbucks Odyssey. As a result of the partnership, this new Web3-powered experience will allow Starbucks Rewards loyalty program members and Starbucks partners (employees) in the United States to earn […]

Read More
Polygon Avail’s Ability to Scale: What We Can Improve Next

The Polygon Avail Testnet is now live. As users begin incorporating Avail into their chain designs, a question that often comes up is, “How many transactions can Avail process?” This is Part Two in a three-part series of articles that will address Polygon Avail’s current performance, as well as its ability to scale in the […]

Read More
Ethereum Merge FAQ and Common Misconceptions

Ethereum’s much-anticipated transition to the proof of stake (PoS) consensus, known as the Merge, is almost upon us. It’s a momentous event with broad-ranging implications for the greater Ethereum ecosystem. So we wanted to provide a definitive list of frequently asked questions (and answers) as well as address some of the common misconceptions, both of […]

Read More
Polygon-Powered Icetea Labs Accelerator Launches With 6 Startups

Polygon has teamed up with Alpha Venture DAO and Icetea Labs to launch the inaugural Icetea Labs Accelerator Program for blockchain startups.  Working in a tight three-way partnership, Polygon is co-creating an accelerator to funnel resources, mentorship, education, and business acumen to promising Web3 companies from around the world. The startups selected for the accelerator […]

Read More
Apply to Polygon Bootcamp Africa and Kickstart Your Web3 Developer Journey

Applications are open for Polygon Bootcamp Africa, launched in partnership with Xend Finance! The eight-week intensive educational course and hackathon combo will put developers in Africa on the Web3 map.  This is Polygon’s biggest step in providing resources to developers, builders, and creators in Africa, and it comes during an important time.  An internet and […]

Read More
ZK White Paper: Efficient ZK Proofs for Keccak

As part of our ongoing efforts to inform the Ethereum community about the efforts of Polygon’s zero-knowledge (ZK) teams, we will be posting a series of technical papers by our engineers and researchers. We hope that everyone who’s interested in the inner workings of Polygon’s ZK projects, Ethereum itself, and cryptographic engineering in general will […]

Read More