The world of blockchain technology is constantly evolving, and the past year has seen significant progress in the scaling of Ethereum via layer 2 networks. Optimistic-based rollups such as Arbitrum and Optimism have been joined by rollups utilizing zero-knowledge technology, such as Polygon ZK-EVM, Linea, ZK-Sync, Scroll, Starknet, and others. However, scaling blockchain networks doesn’t end with layer 2—there is an additional layer to the stack known as layer 3 or appchains, which many consider the scalability nirvana for blockchains.
Appchains, or application-specific blockchains, offer greater speed, lower transaction costs, and are customized to serve particular use cases, unlike public layer 2 blockchain networks. Recently, many of the teams who have launched layer 2 networks have announced dedicated stacks for building appchains that sit on top of their layer 2 networks.
In addition to the teams building these appchain stacks, there are companies offering rollups as a service (RaaS), extending their offers to include rollups as a service.
The launch of dedicated appchains is appealing to many organizations. By launching an appchain, they are able to control certain components of the network, but inherit security provided by a layer 2 network without having to bootstrap the trust themselves. Even the creator can specify the network configuration that best suits their use case, such as the currency of the underlying network, the block size, restrictions on what wallets can transact with the network, and the frequency with which transaction or proof attestations are rolled up onto the underlying network it is using.
The landscape of appchains and layer 2 networks is likely to continue growing, with more and more appchains being launched over the coming months. The question that is on many people’s minds is how big the space is likely to grow, with opinions varying greatly.
Appchains are a crucial piece of plumbing in helping blockchains to scale. They move the execution of decentralized applications onto their own dedicated networks to better serve their needs, rather than overloading the underlying blockchain network. This allows base layer networks such as Ethereum to transition towards being universal settlement layers, which is a much more appropriate role for them in the web3.
In conclusion, the rise of rollups as a service and the launch of dedicated appchains represents a significant evolution in the blockchain space, as it offers a scalable solution for various use cases and provides more control and customization for organizations deploying blockchain technology. The landscape of appchains and layer 2 networks is likely to continue evolving, with the true winners yet to emerge.