Understanding Data Availability in One Article: Why are DA Layer Projects Called Ethereum Killers? What are the Current DA Layer Projects?
DA, short for Data Availability, is an integral component of modular blockchain architecture today. Its core function is to ensure that on-chain data is available for all network participants to use and access, thereby reducing costs and scaling the blockchain.
Modularity, in this context, involves assigning different tasks such as consensus layer, data availability layer (DA), settlement layer, and transaction execution layer to different chains, rather than having a single chain handle all modules.
Execution: Responsible for processing transactions and updating the state.
Data Availability (DA layer): Responsible for storing data required to validate transaction validity.
Consensus: Responsible for determining transaction ordering within blocks and finality, i.e., determining the order in which transactions from the mempool are included in blocks.
Settlement: Responsible for verifying Rollup L2 state data and handling fraud proofs/validity proofs.
Well-known Layer 2 solutions like Optimism and Arbitrum currently employ Rollup, demonstrating modularization of the transaction execution layer. In a modularized setup, the transaction execution path involves Rollup uploading necessary data to L1 as Data Availability for L1 to verify the validity of Rollup transactions. These Data Availabilities face challenges such as historical data on L1 and competition for block space from DApps on L1. When DApps on L1 experience high transaction volumes, the transaction costs on Rollup increase significantly.
The mentioned modularization scheme outlines the transaction execution path. For Layer 2 projects, they typically serve as the execution layer only, while Ethereum remains responsible for Data Availability (DA), consensus, and settlement.
With the launch of projects like Celestia focusing on the data availability layer, Layer 2s have the option to no longer rely on Ethereum for DA.
Data indicates that Ethereum is experiencing an upward trend in data fees from Layer 2 to Layer 1, and its proportion of revenue from Ethereum is gradually increasing.
If Layer 2 projects migrate the Data Availability (DA) layer to dedicated DA projects, it can effectively reduce costs. Taking Manta Pacific as an example, since migrating the DA layer to Celestia, compared to using the Ethereum mainnet, costs have decreased by 99.81%, representing an exponential decrease.
The DA projects that have been gathered include Celestia, EigenDA, Polygon Avail, Fuel, Assembly, zkPorter, StarkEx DAC, Arbitrum Anytrust, and Adamantium.
Characteristics: In order to increase TPS, Celestia introduces a data availability sampling (DAS) technique similar to Ethereum's Danksharding.
As blockchain usage grows, data accumulates on the chain. This poses increasing hardware requirements for full nodes, which need to download all data and validate all transactions.
Light nodes, on the other hand, only need to download and validate block headers. As a result, light nodes often make up a significant proportion of the network, with a trend towards increasing proportions. However, light nodes face a problem: they cannot determine when malicious nodes publish blocks and hide invalid transactions.
Data availability sampling (DAS) utilizes erasure coding. The basic principle is to segment the data and add certain checksums to create correlations between the data segments. In this way, even if data is lost, as long as a certain proportion of sampled data collected by all light nodes is reached, the complete data can be reconstructed, allowing light nodes to obtain DA.
The benefits of this approach are twofold: it reduces the hardware requirements for light nodes, allowing smartphones and laptops to become light nodes, thus promoting network decentralization. Secondly, DAS allows for a higher proportion of light nodes in the network. Moreover, the more light nodes participate in data sampling, the more secure the network becomes, supporting appropriate increases in block space and achieving overall scalability.
Characteristics: EigenDA is a data availability (DA) solution proposed by EigenLayer. EigenLayer itself serves as the restaking layer for Ethereum.
EigenLayer's primary function is restaking funds, allowing stakers to restake their assets not only for PoS staking but also for middleware, oracle, DApps, etc., thereby increasing capital efficiency and reducing trust costs.
EigenLayer is based on Danksharding and ETH staking. EigenDA, proposed by EigenLayer, is a DA solution specifically designed for Optimistic Rollups and ZK-Rollups.
Introduction: The solution offered by Polygon Avail bears striking resemblance to Celestia. In fact, Mustafa Al-Bassam, one of the co-founders of Celestia, has suggested that Avail may have engaged in plagiarism, as Avail's introduction closely mirrors Celestia's introduction written in 2019.
Characteristics: Fuel is an Optimistic Rollup solution for Ethereum, initially designed to scale Ethereum using technologies like UTXO (Unspent Transaction Output). The first version (1.0) was primarily suitable for payment applications. However, upon its mainnet launch, possibly due to limited use cases and lack of smart contract support, the interaction volume remained relatively low.
As a result, Fuel 2.0 started transitioning towards a modular execution layer. One of the project's co-founders, John Adler, is also a co-founder of Celestia. Fuel's official focus is on three key technological implementations:
Parallel execution of transactions using UTXO to enhance performance.
Introduction of FuelVM (Fuel Virtual Machine) to optimize traditional virtual machines, likely addressing EVM compatibility issues.
Introduction of the programming language Sway and the toolchain Forc for developers.
Characteristics: Assembly is built on top of IOTA. Unlike Ethereum's account-based model, IOTA operates on a UTXO ledger, which supports high concurrency. However, UTXO, unlike the account model, doesn't natively support smart contracts. Additionally, IOTA utilizes a DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) data structure, which also facilitates high concurrency.
In the combination of IOTA and Assembly, the use of UTXO and DAG allows IOTA to achieve high performance. Because UTXO doesn't support smart contracts, IOTA is well-suited for serving as an L1 focused solely on DA and settlement (without competing for block space with DApps and execution layers). Assembly, on the other hand, is a smart contract layer built on top of IOTA to support smart contracts for Rollups.
The security of Rollups on the IOTA main chain (transaction validity/fraud proofs) is ensured by smart contracts deployed specifically on Assembly. Transaction validation is performed by reputable validators on the root chain.
The structure of IOTA+Assembly is similar to that of Polkadot+Moonbeam and Cosmos+Evmos. The modular smart contract layer supports smart contracts for Rollups, parachains, etc.
Characteristics: zkSync supports both zk-Rollup and zkPorter solutions. In zk-Rollup, the data availability (DA) is on-chain, whereas in zkPorter, the DA is off-chain. The off-chain DA in zkPorter is maintained by Guardians (zkSync token holders) and includes a penalty mechanism. Relying on Guardians to maintain the DA is a relatively centralized approach.
Characteristics: StarkEx DAC is StarkEx's off-chain data availability (DA) solution. The DA is maintained by a Data Availability Committee (DAC), making it slightly more centralized than zkPorter. StarkEx also offers the Volition solution, which allows for the DA to be either on-chain or off-chain, providing flexibility in its implementation.
Characteristics: Anytrust is Arbitrum's off-chain data availability (DA) solution. The off-chain DA of Anytrust is also maintained by a Data Availability Committee (DAC), making it relatively centralized. The officially announced members of the Nova DAC include ConsenSys, FTX, Google Cloud, Reddit, and the official Offchain Labs team.
Characteristics: Adamantium is also an off-chain data availability (DA) solution. Limited information is available about it. It is known to retain the scalability advantages of off-chain DA but does not rely on trust in a Data Availability Committee (DAC). Users have the option to host their own off-chain DA. Even if a user goes offline, funds will not be stolen or frozen, and they can automatically move back to Layer 1.
The views in this article only represent the author's personal views, and do not constitute investment advice on this platform. This platform does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of the information in the article, and will not be liable for any loss caused by the use of or reliance on the information in the article.
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