Ethereum will not scale at the base layer (blockchain) for years, according to Vitalik Buterin, its co-founder.
“Base-layer scalability for applications is only coming as the last major phase of eth2, which is still years away,” he said.
Instead he proposes a full focus on second layer methods to the point of even suggesting once current eth goes fully Proof of Stake in phase 1.5, then it’s all done. Otherwise:
“If you are not convinced to go ‘all the way’ on the ‘phase 1.5 and done’ direction, there is a natural compromise path to take: having a small number of execution shards (eg. 4-8) and many more data shards.”
He suggests “layer 2 protocols should be built into the wallet” like metamask or status and we need more work on cross-L2 transfers.
He effectively argues second layer methods can somehow become part of the protocol itself stating “eth1 clients could be repurposed as optimistic rollup clients.”
The complication is obviously which layer two protocol is incorporated as cross linking l2s should be difficult to impossible.
In addition if these l2s are so good at solving the double spending problem in a scalable way in how they keep accounts within their network, then it’s not clear why they can’t be the base layer itself and make do without a blockchain at all.
They have seen very little uptake so far with bitcoin’s Lightning Network barely having $12 million in it, while the many L2s live on ethereum don’t seem to be used by many, if any, very popular dapps.
The suggestion of phase 1.5 and done is also curious because some may well take it to imply they have no clue how to do eth2.0 actual sharding.
The ethereum developers had a private meeting in 2019 where the actual roadmap was given based on some comments some of the devs made publicly, some of whom were surprised it would take that long.
Just how long it is, or indeed if ever with this phase 1.5 and done, is not clear, but Buterin’s comments can also be taken as just an attempt to encourage ecosystem adoption of layer two methods.
“I do think it’s important to note that at least in the short term, as far as I can tell we have no choice,” Buterin said, adding:
“The L1 is nearly unusable for many classes of applications, and there’s no non-L2 path that can get us to scalability in the short-to-medium term.”
There are many new projects that have launched and are going to launch which would argue there is a choice, but for eth it seems getting to a scalable network is still some time away.