Scalability is a major issue for most existing decentralized blockchains in the crypto space. Plasm Network, a layer 2 blockchain protocol, looks to put an end to blockchain scalability, privacy, and interoperability issues.
Blockchains by design are not made to scale due to their decentralized consensus mechanism. Their transaction speeds, measured in transactions per second (TPS), are far slower compared to centralized systems. This results in longer transaction time and generally poor user experience.
That’s because most people are used to paying instantly with credit cards and cash. This makes achieving global adoption quite unreachable considering that we have scalability as a major issue for blockchains.
And this is where Plasm Network comes in. The layer 2 network seeks to optimize scalability, and thus, improve blockchain performance.
There are two types of scalability, namely:
- Horizontal (Layer 1) scalability (e.g. sharding and Segwit), and
- Vertical (Layer 2) scalability (e.g. Plasma and State Channel).
Blockchain hub Polkadot makes use of Layer 1 scalability (sharding) while Plasm Network employs Layer 2 vertical scalability.
Although both scalabilities are different, they are also complementary. Plasm Network, which makes use of second layer scalability is compatible with Polkadot (Layer 1). Connecting both platforms will produce a truly interoperable blockchain.
Interoperability is quite important as it facilitates the easy transfer of ‘value’ amongst blockchain.
Basically, Polkadot brings layer 1 scalability (sharding) while Plasm Network brings layer 2 off-chain scalability to the blockchain ecosystem.
Benefits of the Plasm Network to Blockchains
Being a second layer protocol, Plasm several benefits to other blockchains. This includes the following:
- Ingenious dApps development
- Relative lower transaction costs (gas fees)
Plasm Network is addressing the following issues namely: scalability, Transaction Per Second (TPS), etc.
Plasm Network and Polkadot
The Web3 Foundation open-source blockchain project Polkadot is a sharded protocol linking different blockchain networks together. Polkadot’s chain is made up of two parts, which are: the Relaychain and Parachains.
The Relaychain is saddled with security, cross-chain interoperability, consensus, etc. Parachains are parallelized chains which run in parallel to the Relay Chain.
Plasm Network is built on the Parity Substrate, which is also the parent platform of Polkadot.
And Plasm Network plans to become the first-ever scalable Polkadot Parachain. To achieve this, the network must integrate with the Polkadot ecosystem.
Smart contracts are currently not supported on Polkadot Network Relaychain. Therefore, Plasm Network will support this feature while also making it to scale. This, in essence, encourages developers to easily build scalable apps.
Plasma and Plasm Network
Plasma aims at making blockchains scalable, fast and inexpensive while maintaining decentralization and top-notch security. The network makes use of a Merkle tree to process transactions off-chain, engraving only its root on the blockchain. The protocol in charge of linking the off-chain processing and hash submitting on-chain is known as the Aggregator. Rules for performing state transitions are determined by the OVM (Optimistic Virtual Machine).
Plasma applications (Plapps) can be designed and operated through the client application L1 adapter. Plapps are made up of OVM, Plasma, and other contract modules in the Plasm Network.
For Ethereum-based Plasma applications, all modules are organized in smart contracts, subsequently making it easy to predict gas cost when operating Plapps. For applications with multiple contracts, the network has created a simple configuration; one that separates multiple contracts into three modules.
- The OVM Module – it executes a process known as the Universal Adjudication.
- The Plasma Module – supports the implementation of some of the protocol’s most essential smart contracts.
- Contracts Module – Enables the building of applications when combined with Plasma Layer 2.
What is the Optimistic Virtual Machine?
The OVM (Optimistic Virtual Machine) supports all layer 2 protocols. The virtual machine makes the unification of all layer 2 protocols possible.
The OVM is an important aspect of scaling layer 2 applications since it simplifies complex dispute logics using Optimistic Game Semantics (OGS).
The OVM and its surrounding architecture are shown in the figure below.
Plasma Network was founded by Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum and Joseph Poon. According to him, the scaling network will process large data faster than it currently does. Vitalik Buterin recently announced Plasma, a scaling infrastructure that will help the Ethereum blockchain handle much larger data sets than is currently possible. This provides both interoperability and scalability for blockchains worldwide.
Core Features of the Plasm Testnet
Plasm Network has three testnet networks, they include:
- Dusty Network – a testnet used to test Plasm Network OVM, real-time lockdrop, the layer 2 protocol, alongside many other important network features.
- Plasm Parachain – it is also a testnet with a sine form of Parachain features. It will undergo a few more tests before it is integrated into the Plasm mainnet. This integration is expected to take place alongside the Parachain auction.
- The Plasm Parachain – only developers will be able to contribute to this testnet. The first two testnet is open for use by Plasm Network users.
The Plasm Network testnet is made up of three main features namely:
1. Operator Trading – a simple method of buying and selling Plasma applications. It is also an improved smart contract owner management system, one which enables contracts tokenization and easy transfer of contract ownership.
2. dApps Rewards – this is a reward system for dApps developers. For now, 50% of Plasm staking reward is allocated to dApp developers on the network.
3. Multi-Lockdrop – this is a token distribution method.
Plasm Network is supported by Acala Network, Long hash, Cryptoeconomics labs, the Web3 foundation program, etc. The network ensures scalability by implementing layer 2 solutions like Plasma, State Channels, etc. Furthermore, Plasm Network is also interoperable with decentralized chains that are connected with the Polkadot Network.
The network will not only be employed by solely Plasma applications. Other Layer 2 protocols such as the Lightning Network will also be able to connect with it.
The Plasm Network mainnet will eventually support all layer 2 scaling solutions.
Blockchain technology is arguably one of the most important inventions of the 21st century. However, they are not made to scale. As more and more applications go live on a particular blockchain, the higher the gas fees it requires and the slower it becomes.
This is where Plasm comes to the rescue. By combining Layer 1 and Layer 2 scalability, the network looks to bring interoperability, scalability and privacy to blockchain technology.