Optimism, an Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution is set to launch on the network’s mainnet in March, ahead of schedule. But what does this mean for Ethereum and its users?

The latest announcement by Optimism confirmed that the team will be launching arbitrary contract deployment on mainnet in March instead of public testnet, with details to follow.

Scaling Ethereum with Layer 2 (L2)

Layer 1 (L1) is the base protocol layer (the Ethereum blockchain), while layer 2 (L2) is any protocol built on the Ethereum platform. Optimism is one such layer 2 solution which allows the Ethereum mainnet to be ‘unburdened’ from a lot of transactions that invariably clog the system when demand skyrockets. It uses so-called optimistic rollups to achieve lower fees and latency, while increasing throughput compared to Ethereum layer 1.

The Optimism team was funded by Andreessen Horowitz’ venture firm a16z back in November – a funding round that enabled team expansion and an accelerated timeline to launch, the team said.

I’m not sure if people realize how huge a deal this is. Moving from L1 Ethereum to optimistic rollups is like going from dial-up to broadband,” argued Redditor frank__costello, adding that L2 solutions will probably have a big impact on end-users more so than Ethereum 2.0. “No more crazy gas fees, no more waiting for transactions to get mined.”

While various L2 solutions exist in the form of Ethereum sidechains, rollups are expected to be the dominant scaling paradigm, according to ETH co-founder Vitalik Buterin. Praising the imminent launch, he said that “that rollups will be the dominant scaling paradigm for at least a couple of years,” proposing “rollups on top of sharding” for ETH 2.0.

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100,000 Transactions Per Second

In plain English, rollups are a scaling technique that keep transaction data on-chain in a compressed format, with the computation being processed off-chain. These include computations like signature verification, contract execution and zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs and other processes to be verified in a ZK-Rollup or Optimistic Rollup.

In theory, this would increase throughput on the Ethereum blockchain to thousands of transactions per second instead of the current tens. Once Phase 1 of ETH 2.0 is introduced, the number will go as high as 100,000 TPS (100x), Buterin elaborated in a Twitter post.

It’s estimated that current dapps on Ethereum can quickly switch to the new network, simply copying and pasting code to Optimism and completing the migration in March. Coinbase wallet already offered support for the solution.

Additionally, a16z described Optimism as “an extension of Ethereum, [with] adherence to Ethereum development paradigms, [which] results in a very easy transition for developers, wallets and users.”

What does this mean for side chains?

If successful, various side chains such as the Binance Smart Chain, Polkadot, Avalanche and even Solana would need to adapt their strategy overnight, given that these projects are largely scaling solutions. And despite their popularity among influencers, this single update is expected to be a major game changer for the Ethereum blockchain.

The first testnet in the series is expected to fork in the first half of March.

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