Who is going to build the infrastructure to unite Ethereum rollups?


Ethereum has taken a meaningful step in helping layer-2 rollups scale, but the ecosystem needs unifying infrastructure from neutral third-party players to streamline user experience.

This is according to Avail co-founder Anurag Arjun, who delved into the current state of the rollup ecosystem in an interview with Cointelegraph during the ETHGlobal conference in London.

Arjun, who co-founded Ethereum layer-2 Polygon alongside Sandeep Nailwal, Jaynti Kanani and Mihailo Bjelic, has shifted his focus to building agnostic rollup infrastructure to unify the Ethereum layer-2 ecosystem.

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During his time at Polygon, the team pivoted toward building technology aligned with Ethereum’s rollup-centric roadmap following the release of Polygon’s proof-of-stake chain. This shift also required new infrastructure, as Arjun explains:

“We knew in a world of rollups that you also need scalable data availability. So we started Avail within Polygon back in 2020.”

In March 2023, Arjun secured the intellectual property rights from Polygon to continue building Avail, allowing him to spin out a standalone company alongside Prabal Banerjee.

Arjun told Cointelegraph that they aimed to become a rollup agnostic platform that serves major rollup protocols like Starkware, zkSync, Arbitrum and Optimism.

“The technology that we’ve implemented is called data sampling. It’s very similar to what Ethereum wants to do on its sharding roadmap,” Arjun explains.

The roadmap itself is a long one, with complete danksharding functionality only expected to become a reality in the next few years. Arjun says that rollups might not be able to wait long for data sampling capabilities that enable the efficient verification of rollups.

Source: Vitalik Buterin

“We realized during the journey that we would solve rollups scalability via scalable data availability. That would end up enabling a world with tens and thousands of rollups, but a very bad user experience,” Arjun said.

It’s not an inaccurate reflection of the current Ethereum user experience, where one has to switch between different rollups to bridge funds or carry out transfers or swaps. This fragmented experience for users and the fragmented nature of rollups is something Arjun would like to solve:

“Theoretically, we take proofs generated by the independent rollups and aggregate them into one so that you can allow rollups users on rollups to talk to each other.”

The envisioned end result is “a unified rollup ecosystem”. Achieving this goal requires a credible, neutral third party coordinating this process between different rollups doing different things.

Arjun draws a comparison to the Solana blockchain, which he describes as one “big chain with a lot of apps,” while its users only have to contend with one chain. Meanwhile, Ethereum’s rollup-centric roadmap has resulted in an ecosystem with many different L2 chains.

“If you look at like apps on the internet, they are not on one giant supercomputer. They’re on different cloud services and talk to each other when required. We anticipate the same happening with rollups in general, and we want to enable that cohesion,” Arjun added.

Avail Nexus aims to facilitate this specific integration standard between rollups, similar to Polygon’s recently launched Aggregation layer, which aggregates proofs created by rollups built on the L2’s chain development kit.

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Avail’s technology can take aggregated proofs from Polygon’s AggLayer, Starknet, Optimism, Arbitrum or Scroll and creates a “coordinated rollup”. Arjun describes the technology as an ecosystem-wide effort, rather than catering to one ecosystem.

It’s a future problem that the ecosystem is already pondering. Arjun said a recent presentation from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin posed this very question — who is going to build the infrastructure to unite rollups?

“Either it has to be the Ethereum Foundation, or some third party who is not in the rollup business,” Arjun concludes.

Buterin also attended ETHGlobal in London and hammered home the importance of a mindset shift toward building L2 decentralized applications and solutions in line with Ethereum’s focus on rollup-enabled functionality.

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