The Modular Blockchain Paradigm: Scaling Blockchains by Orders of Magnitude

Why alternative VMs are crucial to scaling Ethereum.


In the world of web3, Ethereum continues to be a leader despite the rise of new Layer 1 solutions. It boasts a large community of developers and users, a robust scalability roadmap, and significant liquidity. While Ethereum's ecosystem offers immense value, there is a growing notion that the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and Solidity programming language are becoming less vital.

The primary bottleneck to scalability lies not in transaction execution speed, but rather in the limited bandwidth supported by the consensus and data availability layer. Currently, the EVM's relatively slow transaction execution is considered acceptable because it still outpaces Ethereum's bandwidth capabilities.

However, Ethereum is moving towards achieving massive scalability through proto-danksharding and the upcoming implementation of sharding in 2023. As base layer scalability becomes a reality, the core constraint will shift to computation speed—how quickly execution layers can process transactions.

In this future scenario, the EVM's performance, which was designed for the original Ethereum blockchain, will no longer suffice given the expanded bandwidth available on the consensus and data availability layer. Progress on the EVM has been hindered by the need to maintain backward compatibility, limiting meaningful improvements.

To fully leverage the value gained from increasing Ethereum's base layer bandwidth, Layer 2 solutions must match these scalability advancements by building and deploying more performant Virtual Machines (VMs) on the execution layer.

Fuel emerges as a solution designed to scale Ethereum by surpassing the limitations of the EVM. Unlike existing Layer 2s and rollups optimized for monolithic blockchain stacks, Fuel is uniquely equipped to handle large amounts of Layer 1 bandwidth potential.

By adopting new and improved VM design principles, modular execution layers like Fuel can optimize for efficient and scalable computation, enhance developer experience, and ensure maximum security. These advancements directly contribute to scaling Ethereum.

Fuel's contribution to scaling Ethereum can be understood through several factors:

Deployment on Ethereum: Fuel's roadmap includes deployment on the Ethereum mainnet. The beta-2 testnet has already been launched, featuring a bridge to Ethereum's Goerli testnet, and a full mainnet implementation is planned for 2023.

Alignment with Ethereum's Roadmap: Ethereum's core development community is actively building towards a rollup-centric Ethereum. The focus of Ethereum's base-layer scaling is on increasing data block capacity rather than improving on-chain computation efficiency. Fuel aligns with this roadmap by prioritizing fast and efficient computation on the execution layer to support Ethereum's scaling efforts.

FuelVM: Fraud-Provable within the EVM: The FuelVM instruction set is designed to be expressive yet fraud-provable within the EVM. This ensures that Fuel supports Ethereum's use as a settlement layer while maintaining compatibility with the existing EVM.

Attracting Developers to the Ethereum Ecosystem: Fuel places a strong emphasis on developer experience, with the Sway language gaining significant traction. By providing a Rust-based Domain-Specific Language (DSL) and comprehensive tooling that developers love, Fuel aims to attract a large number of new developers to the Ethereum ecosystem. Additionally, the design of FuelVM enables new use cases that are not feasible on the EVM, such as orderbook decentralized exchanges. More features and a better developer experience will lead to increased project diversity, versatile use cases, and broader adoption by end users.

By deploying Fuel on Ethereum with a trust-minimized bridge connecting the two networks, developers and users contribute directly to the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem instead of migrating to alternative Layer 1 solutions.

Fuel is fully committed to scaling Ethereum. As Ethereum embraces a modular roadmap, improving the scalability and efficiency of computation on the execution layer becomes the next crucial step. Alternative VMs play a vital role in this endeavor, and Fuel is at the forefront, building the fastest modular execution layer to bring maximum security and flexible throughput to Ethereum.
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