Ethereum's broadband moment
June 11th, 2022

What bear? It’s a builders market.

We have the best and brightest trying to solve the hardest problems in the blockchain space. And for the first time ever we will have unlocked a potential 100x throughput of information flow on a decentralized network.

How so? First a short recap of data.

An extremely short incomplete history of data

Arguably the most disruptive force in the past 1000 years was the Guttenberg press. It ultimately led to the downfall of the biggest institution of the time, The Catholic Church.

So what did it do? It drastically sped up humans’ bandwidth by allowing data to be replicated. It was the internet of the 13th century, but the bandwidth was constrained to the speed of human movement.

700 years later and DARPA creates the internet, the modern-day equivalent of the printing press. Now humans could transmit information at near the speed of light. This ushered in the dawn of the information age and changed everything about our daily lives.

However, for the early period of the consumer internet, it was constrained to dial-up, a very slow version of the internet we have today, which ultimately limited what type of applications we could create.

Then broadband happened

Suddenly we went from transmitting less than 100kb per second to transmitting 25MB per second. Only with broadband could we create the internet that we see today. This was the moment all the believers of the early internet were waiting for and knew would come, and also the moment the haters realized they were wrong.

So what does this have to do with blockchain?

There is this thing called the blockchain trilemma. It assumes that you have to trade off one property of a blockchain to maximize the rest. And as far as we all know, this is true.

Blockchain Trilemma
Blockchain Trilemma

Many L1s have died on this hill, and I suspect many more will. More often than not the L1 will attempt to sacrifice decentralization and security for scalability.

Vitalik and the other Ethereum core’s genius was to never sacrifice decentralisation. After all what exactly is the point of a blockchain without decentralisation?

Just like the early internet believers, Vitalik and the others knew they were early and that technology would catch up and allow Layer 2s to happen. And they were right. We are at this point in Ethereum’s history where we have a flourishing L2 ecosystem (Arbitrum, Optimism, StarkNet & more) all secured by a decentralised L1 chain, Ethereum.

There a shimmers of the blockchain we have all been waiting for.

Enter STARKS & StarkNet

Scalable Transparent ARguments of Knowledge or STARKs are 5 years old now and are the invention of Eli Ben-Sasson and associates.

STARKs allow us to write verifiable programs that can be run on one server and verified on the next, without having to actually share the data or the computation.

A simple way to think about STARKS are:

Zip files = compressed data

STARKs = compressed verifiable compute

Thankfully the geniuses at StarkWare have taken the concept of STARKs and created a generalised smart contract L2 called StarkNet that also has a native feature called Account abstraction.

Account abstraction (AA)

Account abstraction enables users to control smart contract wallets rather than Externally Owned Accounts like in an EVM environment (AA is the dream of Ethereum and it might be realised in this EIP).

There are many perks to AA and the gigabrain Julien from Argent writes a solid introduction here.

I am only going to talk about one feature of AA - the ‘multicall’.

The Multicall - 10-100x throughput

A multicall is simply the ability to invoke many functions on StarkNet in one transaction.

For example, let’s say you are playing a game and want to do the following actions (These are all actions that can be taken in the Realms game we are building)

  • Claim resources
  • Raid an enemy
  • Trade resources
  • Build armies on multiple Realms

In an EVM environment, you would have to submit each of these actions at once, and for each action, you would have to sign and pay gas, slowing the UX.

On StarkNet you are able to submit all these transactions in one ‘batch’ or ‘multicall’ and StarkNet will process all the actions in the same transaction.

If you are repeating a similar function (like sending an ERC20 coin) the cost will be drastically reduced as StarkNet will only charge you for the final update. There will be slightly more computation cost by bundling up the transactions, but it will still be significantly cheaper and faster than submitting these independently. (Note this pricing structure is evolving and may change, but the multicall remains)

Multicall vs Single call
Multicall vs Single call

On top of this, the user only has to sign one transaction for all these actions! When you bundle this feature up with a session key system you have a very smooth user experience for your decentralized application.

Within Realms we are creating a ‘Transaction Cart’, think of a traditional e-commerce cart except for transactions. Navigate around the dapp, add transactions, and then submit them all at once!

Final thoughts

This simple under-the-radar feature mash in my opinion is what the world has been waiting for. This is the broadband moment, and I didn’t even touch on the merge which is going to drop Ethereums energy usage by 99%!

The Guttenberg press increased our data bandwith, and the internet sped up data to the speed of light, STARKs, and account abstraction will allow compression of compute to enable the next generation of decentralised applications.

If this tickles your imagination pop into our discord

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