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VeradiVerdict - Issue #262
In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of blockchain technology, the pursuit of scalability and the enhancement of transaction throughput have culminated in the emergence of what are known as Layer-2 solutions, or L2s. These innovative augmentations to conventional blockchain protocols have been strategically devised to mitigate the inherent limitations that have persisted within traditional blockchain designs. With the ascendancy of L2 solutions, offering swifter and more resource-efficient transaction processing, a novel challenge has presented itself - the imperative for efficient transaction sequencing.
To address this challenge for efficiency, centralized sequencers have predominantly been employed. These orchestrative mechanisms govern the arrangement of transactions within decentralized networks. Yet, the harmony sought between the decentralized philosophy underpinning blockchains and the centralization inherent in these sequencers has given rise to an extraordinary breakthrough: the dawn of decentralized sequencers. This new approach aims to enhance scalability, strengthen security, and establish a truly decentralized nature within the blockchain space.
What are Centralized Transaction Sequencers?
Centralized transaction sequencers serve as mechanisms employed by blockchains or applications to ensure the orderly and secure progression of transactions. In contrast to the concept of decentralized sequencing employed in blockchains, which hinges on consensus algorithms and distributed networks, today’s sequencers function in a centralized environment under the supervision of a singular authority. Here's an outline of their functioning:
Centralized Control: Within centralized systems, a sole entity or authoritative body exercises dominion over the database or application. This entity is responsible for overseeing transaction ordering and dictating the sequence in which they are executed by L2s.
Sequential Processing: Transactions undergo sequential handling, occurring in a consecutive fashion. The determination of this sequence is frequently influenced by variables such as timestamp, submission timing, MEV extraction, feed paid by the users/block builders, or the precedence allocated by the central governing entity.
Dependence on Trust: Users relying on the system must place their trust in the central entity to impartially and precisely handle transactions. Yet, the potential for manipulation or malicious behavior by this authority looms, risking the integrity of the transactions themselves.
Advantages of Decentralized Sequencers
Decentralized sequencers present a multitude of compelling advantages derived from their groundbreaking method of transaction management. Through the cultivation of trust and transparency, these sequencers establish an unalterable, openly accessible ledger that empowers autonomous validation of transaction accuracy and sequence, obviating the necessity for centralized supervision. Their infallible resistance to tampering assures the integrity of data, virtually eliminating the potential for fraud and imbuing the recorded information with authenticity. Furthermore, decentralized sequencers champion the ethos of censorship resistance and monopoly-mitigation, enabling transaction progression based on network consensus rather than central authority, nurturing an ecosystem of openness and inclusivity.
Beyond their security features, the robustness of decentralized sequencers against both single points of failure and malicious intrusions fortifies their resilience. This resilience facilitates engagement from participants spanning diverse geographic locales, fostering an environment of global accessibility and financial inclusivity. Consequently, this methodology streamlines operations, automates the validation of transactions, and curtails the reliance on intermediaries, culminating in heightened efficiency and notable cost reductions. The adaptable nature of decentralized sequencers propels innovation, facilitating the development of applications such as smart contracts and decentralized platforms that revolutionize conventional business models and economic paradigms. These sequencers harmonize seamlessly with the principles of decentralization, augmenting data ownership, and solidifying their role as a transformative catalyst capable of reshaping industries and redefining trust within the digital epoch.
Trustless Environment: Decentralized sequencers eradicate the necessity for participants to place trust solely in a centralized authority. Transactions undergo validation and consensus across a distributed network of nodes, thereby fostering transparency and diminishing the susceptibility to manipulation.
Immutability: Within decentralized sequencing, transactions are logged in an unchangeable and inviolable manner. Once integrated into the blockchain, they become impervious to modification or erasure without collective agreement from the network, bolstering the data's integrity.
Censorship Resistance: Conventional sequencers might be susceptible to censorship or meddling orchestrated by the central authority. Decentralized sequencers counteract this vulnerability by enabling transactions to be appended to the blockchain, provided they conform to the consensus rules stipulated by the network.
Resilience: Traditional sequencers are prone to vulnerabilities stemming from single points of failure. Conversely, in decentralized systems, the widely distributed network architecture enhances resilience, guarding against attacks or the breakdown of individual nodes.
Reduced Intermediaries: Traditional sequencers frequently necessitate intermediaries for the validation and authorization of transactions. Conversely, decentralized sequencers possess the potential to diminish or eliminate the requirement for intermediaries, resulting in cost efficiencies and heightened operational effectiveness.
Types of Decentralized Sequencers:
Let's break down some exciting solutions separated by the builder-proposer side of a sequencer design.
Schnorr Sequencer: The Schnorr Sequencer introduces a novel approach to confirming transactions, departing from the traditional methods of transaction grouping. In this innovative system, unique indices are assigned to individual transactions, initiating a collaborative process between the sequencer (or validator) and the sender. Together, they create a Schnorr signature linked to the transaction index. This signature stands as proof of the sender's intent to include the transaction at that specific index in the blockchain ledger. This technique offers the potential for several benefits, including increased efficiency, enhanced privacy, and a more streamlined transaction sequence. Moreover, it holds the exciting prospect of presenting a new angle for tackling the complexities related to arranging and ordering transactions in the realm of blockchain networks.
Suave: Suave, an innovative creation introduced by Flashbots, stands as a transformative response to the challenges of centralization brought about by Miner-Extractor Value. At its core, Suave presents a novel concept: the Single Unifying Auction for Value Expression. This pioneering solution aims to reshape the landscape of block building, with a central focus on upholding decentralization principles. Suave's framework comprises three key components: the Universal Preference Environment, which empowers users to articulate preferences as messages guiding execution; the Optimal Execution Market, an intricate network of executors competing to provide optimal execution, including MEV capture; and the Decentralized Block Building, a network that converges aggregated preferences into blocks across various domains. The fusion of these components within Suave's architecture fosters a decentralized ecosystem where users, validators, builders, and searchers seamlessly collaborate across multiple chains. By doing so, Suave not only addresses centralization risks but propels the crypto realm towards a more equitable and decentralized trajectory, reshaping the future of blockchain technology.
Espresso Sequencer: The Espresso Sequencer emerges as a decentralized network tailored for rollups, encompassing the primary goal of furnishing secure, swift throughput, and minimal latency in arranging and ensuring transaction availability. This sequencer is envisaged as a valuable asset accessible to both optimistic and zk-rollups, thereby enabling rollups to attain decentralization while harnessing the benefits of interconnectivity facilitated by a mutual sequencing stratum.
Based Sequencing: Based rollups capitalize on the sequencing capabilities of the underlying Layer 1 (L1) blockchain. These rollups synchronize their block sequencing with the L1, enabling seamless collaboration between L1 proposers and the rollup ecosystem. The result is a set of advantages: robust liveness guarantees, efficient settlement processes, resistance to censorship-driven Miner-Extractor Value (MEV), network effect preservation, and compatibility with the existing L1 infrastructure. The simplicity of their architecture, aided by recent innovations like proposer-builder separation (PBS), yields gas efficiency and streamlined development. Despite foregoing some MEV income, the economic alignment with the L1 ecosystem enhances security and economic scarcity. These rollups also retain sovereignty through governance tokens and base fees. The term "based rollup" intriguingly echoes their reliance on the L1 foundation. This innovation enhances decentralized consensus while embodying blockchain's core ethos seamlessly.
The journey from scalability constraints to the emergence of Layer-2 solutions has been transformative. The central role of sequencers in governing transaction order has been instrumental in enabling the efficiency and effectiveness of these solutions. As the blockchain community continues to embrace the principles of decentralization, the rise of decentralized sequencers presents a promising path forward. With their potential to harmonize the benefits of enhanced scalability and true decentralization, decentralized sequencers symbolize the maturation of blockchain technology, ushering in an era where the intricate balance between innovation and ideology paves the way for a more inclusive, secure, and resilient digital future.
- Paul Veradittakit
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LETS MEET UP
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Science of Blockchain Conference, Stanford University, August 28-30
Starknet Summit 2023, San Francisco, August 31
Korea Blockchain Week, Seoul, September 6-8
TOKEN2049, Singapore, September 11-13
Mainnet 2023, New York City, September 18-22
Walks and coffee meetings in San Francisco throughout the year!
Hi, I’m Paul Veradittakit, a Managing Partner at Pantera Capital, one of the oldest and largest institutional investors focused on investing in blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies. I’ve been in the industry since 2014, and the firm invests in equity, early stage token projects, and liquid cryptocurrencies on exchanges. I focus on early-stage investments and share my thoughts on what’s going on in the industry in this weekly newsletter.
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