A new scaling project has entered the sidechain chat.
Offchain Labs’ Arbitrum rollup technology is set to launch on Friday, May 28 for developers, the firm told CoinDesk. The layer 2 solution offers drastically higher transaction throughput than Ethereum, and gas fees that are up to 270 times lower. It’s been live on testnet since 2020.
Arbitrum goes live in full as scaling platforms again surge in popularity. Projects like Polygon, Optimism and Matter Labs’ zkSync have either seen major funding rounds or their token prices soar in recent months. (Notably, Arbitrum has no token.)
In tandem with the launch, Offchain Labs is partnering with developer platform Alchemy to help devs more easily tap into the new network.
Alchemy, which is said to power 70% of the top Ethereum applications and over $30 billion in on-chain transactions, announced a similar partnership with Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain in March. Alchemy works with Dapper, OpenSea, Aave and many others.
Rollup technology is key to scaling Ethereum apps. A rollup is basically a sidechain aggregation of transactions in a smart contract that will settle to the mainchain at some future point. The “rollup” refers to the way the sidechain bundles many transactions to be committed to the mainchain.
Arbitrum is an “optimistic rollup”, meaning that state changes are first published with minimal inspection and fraud checking, allowing for additional speed. Any user, however, can flag invalid updates as fraudulent and the bad actors are punished by the protocol, while the updates are rolled back. The Arbitrum-Alchemy partnership drastically lowers the barriers to entry by meeting a large swath of developers where they already are.
“High gas fees and slow transaction mining times have been the biggest pain points for Ethereum developers and users for quite some time,” said Alchemy Product Manager Michael Garland. Arbitrum’s layer 2 technology provides a long-needed solution, he said.
Grabbing market share
In development since 2018, Arbitrum is the first general smart contract Ethereum layer 2 rollup solution to go live, according to Offchian Labs’ Director of Partnerships and Strategy A.J. Warner.
The success of any layer 2 rides on the adoption of both infrastructure projects and dapps, so given Alchemy’s reach in the blockchain developer community, native support is key, he said.
“Arbitrum, among other differentiating tech breakthroughs, is the only rollup that supports porting Ethereum contracts at the bytecode level (without making any code modifications),” Warner said via email.
Arbitrum’s goal is to become the default layer 2 rollup for Ethereum users and developers. Crypto exchange OKEx recently announced it will support direct deposits and withdrawals into Arbitrum for its users to avoid expensive gas fees. According to Arbitrum, over 150 projects have requested launch-day access to Arbitrum.
“Alchemy’s developer platform and Offchain Labs’ layer 2 are two of the most critical tools available to blockchain developers,” said Joey Krug, co-chief investment officer at Pantera, which invested in Arbitrum, adding:
“Their partnership to push forward the Arbitrum ecosystem is truly game changing and would ensure Arbitrum developers have access to reliable, scalable infrastructure to build on.”