Courtesy of research spearheaded by John Adler, the “optimistic rollups” technique burst onto the scene in 2019, since becoming one of the brightest star’s in the Ethereum scaling constellation.
Part of that brightness was brought on by the October unveiling of Fuel Labs, an outfit comprised of Adler and Nick Dodson that set out to actualize Fuel, a “trustless scalable sidechain” deployment of optimistic rollups tech.
Fuel caught many Ethereum stakeholders’ attention because of its potential to, among other things, make stablecoin payments on Ethereum considerably more affordable and efficient.
And now its builders are gaining attention again, this time for rolling out a series of early “v0 testnets” of the project the community can actively tinker with.
Rollup Roll Out
These initial Fuel testnets will be used to gauge the deployments’ “stability and performance,” the Fuel Labs team has said, and will precede the more mature Fuel v1 testnet, which could launch by the end of March 2020.
That’s an impressive timeline for a project that just introduced itself last fall. It’s even more impressive in light of the punch that Fuel’s tech packs.
For example, Plasma is another one of the Ethereum ecosystem’s promising scaling innovations. Yet these advanced sidechains are semi-trusted, as Plasma operators can censor Plasma transactions. Optimistic rollups like Fuel can be totally permissionless in contrast.
Beyond that, Fuel has certain security advantages too, as Fuel Labs explained in their January 19th update:
“The safety and security of Fuel is optimal. With cheap fraud proofs, it is highly-resilient against chain congestion attacks, unlike Plasma and state channel networks. As with any properly-design optimistic rollup, the only way to attack it is for miners to conduct a week-long 51% attack on the main chain — highly visible, easily attributable, and impossible in practice for a chain as important and secure as Ethereum.”
An Interesting Horizon
The Fuel Labs team has said there is no shortage of possibilities around its tech going forward.
For one, the builders have said their eyeing the addition of a “Bitcoin-like predicate scripting system” to Fuel, an expansion that would allow for more complex smart contract use cases on the sidechain.
Those same builders also noted that Fuel’s underlying tech efficient enough that it could prove pivotal in underpinning future decentralized social networks:
“Given that optimistic rollups can be thought of as a form of transactions batching, we can build highly scalable and decentralized social networks on top of Fuel! Twitter, Reddit, you name it, can all be built as uncensorable and completely open social networks that can leverage Ethereum’s money legos and DeFi ecosystem.”
Another Part of ETH’s Economic Bandwidth?
A growing topic of conversation in the Ethereum community is around the idea of ether (ETH) as the “economic bandwidth” of Ethereum. The higher this bandwidth, the more secure and valuable Ethereum is.
Arguably no one has espoused more on such bandwidth than Ryan Sean Adams, the creator of the Bankless newsletter.
To date, Adams’s discussions of ETH’s economic bandwidth have mostly centered around the amount of ETH locked in DeFi or the amount of ETH that will soon be locked up in Ethereum 2.0 staking. Yet in a new tweet, Adams has argued that optimistic rollups may become another key part of ETH’s economic bandwidth.
Rollups are tokenless
It's easier for them to use ETH or DAI to reward & punish
If successful, rollups may end up locking up a massive amount of ETH in rollup bonds
Yet another demand source for ETH's economic bandwidth
— RYAN SΞAN ADAMS – rsa.eth (@RyanSAdams) January 20, 2020
Whatever ends up happening, Adams’s suggestions here are currently under-explored in the space, though likely not for long as Fuel continues to rise. And rise it will, if its makers and community of supporters have anything to say about it.
To say that lots is happening around Ethereum is a bit of an understatement. In a similar way, to say that Fuel can open up lots of new possibilities is also something of an understatement. It’s a major thread to watch in the space going forward.