In their quest for scalability and cost-effectiveness, many layer-2 networks adopt a centralised approach to on-chain transaction processing, introducing a single point of failure vulnerability. The Metis blockchain, however, has pioneered a distributed sequencer pool to improve security and decentralisation, reports Cointelegraph. The Ethereum blockchain introduced smart contracts to automate certain events on the network, laying the foundation of decentralised finance (DeFi). As the DeFi ecosystem continues its exponential growth, however, the limitations of Ethereum have become clear. Despite last year’s migration to proof-of-stake, partially addressing the scalability issues of the Ethereum blockchain, the Ethereum network remains expensive when it comes to gas fees — the cost of each transaction executed on the blockchain. On top of that, the huge decentralised world built on Ethereum makes network congestion on the base layer a regular occurrence. Thanks to the decentralised and open-source nature of the Ethereum blockchain, developers have built numerous networks on top of the base layer — called “layer-2 blockchains” — to fix specific limitations. Soon after, layer-2 (L2) networks that offer faster transaction speed or lower gas fees, including Arbitrum and Optimism, emerged. However, one common aspect found in most layer-2 projects is that they rely on a single sequencer, which creates a vulnerability linked to centralisation. But what exactly is a sequencer? In blockchain terms, a sequencer operates like a traffic controller for on-chain transactions. A blockchain sequencer first collects on-chain transactions that would be included in a specific block. It puts transactions in order — an essential step for the network to function normally. The sequencer then places those transactions in a block, ensuring the block is filled correctly and in the right order. Relying on a single sequencer for ordering and placing on-chain transactions introduces a critical vulnerability known as a single point of failure (SPOF). If this sequencer malfunctions due to a cyberattack, technical glitch, or outside intervention, the entire blockchain network comes to a standstill. Additionally, a single sequencer may struggle to handle the increasing transaction volume, leading to scalability issues. To address these concerns, alternative solutions can be explored. Metis, a layer-2 Ethereum scaling solution, has introduced a decentralised sequencer pool to increase the transaction speed and throughput of blockchain while maintaining Ethereum’s decentralisation and security. Going beyond the single-sequencer model used by Arbitrum, Optimism, and other L2 projects, Metis is rolling out a distributed pool of sequencers — a fresh concept with built-in risk management that keeps the network up even if one of the many sequencers in the pool goes down for any reason. The sequencer pool model works with Metis’ existing decentralised peer-to-peer validators and block producer network to enable smooth and secure sequencer transitions while removing faulty or malicious nodes. Read more.

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June 2024