Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Layer 1, Layer 2, and even Layer 0 blockchains. Often, we refer to ourselves as a Layer 1 platform that will also provide Layer 2 solutions.
However, upon closer examination, it might not be as simple as that. It's important to recognize that these labels contain a lot of gray areas, and it can be difficult to draw clear lines between them.
This article will explore where we fit in, and ultimately question whether you can put Chromia into a box and give it a definitive label.
What is a Layer 1 Blockchain?
Layer 1 blockchains process and finalize transactions on a single ‘monolithic’ chain using their own collection of nodes and consensus mechanism. The most prominent examples are Bitcoin and Ethereum.
So, is Chromia a Layer 1?
The answer is not a straightforward yes or no. While Chromia does process and finalize transactions using its own collection of nodes and consensus mechanism, there is no ‘monolithic’ blockchain. The network will be made up of system chains and dapp chains that work together to form one cohesive system. Unlike Ethereum, where all transactions are recorded to a single “main” chain, Chromia deploys dapps on their own individual chains, which can then opt-in to full interoperability and communication with other dapps. So although Chromia is not designed like a traditional Layer 1, it can perform all the same functions and the end user will still experience it as a unified platform.
So is Chromia a Layer 1? Not exactly, but it will feel like one.
What is a Layer 2 Blockchain?
In general, Layer 2s are created to address scalability, speed, and cost challenges. They seek to optimize the Layer 1 by taking computation and the fight for block space off-chain, bundling several transactions together, and then ultimately recording these transactions to the Layer 1 they are designed to support.
Multiple Layer 2 solutions, including Optimism and Arbitrum, have been developed for Ethereum. Although the technical specifics of these solutions vary, they all follow this general principle.
So, is Chromia a Layer 2?
Under the strict definition above, no. Chromia chains achieve consensus and record their own transactions, and our network operates entirely independently of Ethereum or any other Layer 1. However, the boundaries between these distinctions can be fuzzy.
The Ethereum Interoperability Framework (EIF) has been established to enable communication between Chromia and EVM chains, with a particular emphasis on tokens and NFTs. This creates a bridge through which information and value can travel. As a result of this, it will be possible for developers to build Chromia dapps that are interoperable with Ethereum and other platforms. Also, the Originals NFT Protocol will allow projects from various blockchains to migrate their metadata, images, and other information to our network.
As an additional point of interest, our anchoring chain will store information about all the blocks written on the different chains on our network. Periodically, the anchoring chain will hash and record this data onto the Ethereum blockchain itself. While this is not essential for Chromia's operation, it provides an additional layer of security that helps us maintain the highest possible standards.
So is Chromia a Layer 2? Not exactly, but it will interact with other Layer 1 blockchains in a variety of interesting ways.
What is a Layer 0 Blockchain protocol?
A handful of projects have emerged which are classified as ‘Layer 0’, most notably Cosmos and Polkadot. These networks allow developers to launch their own blockchains, which are interoperable with each other. The end user can be given the experience of using one platform, while they are in fact using multiple blockchains that are connected together by an underlying protocol (sounds familiar!).
So, is Chromia a Layer 0?
Based on the paragraph above, it sure sounds like it! However, when the whitepaper was written, the term hadn’t entered the blockchain lexicon yet. Chromia’s design was conceived as a method to achieve horizontal scalability and provide a highly customizable system for decentralized applications. Regardless, excerpts from the whitepaper point strongly towards Layer 0 characteristics. For example:
“Chromia is divided into multiple blockchains… In this model, each node only needs to work with data related to its corresponding blockchain(s). This architecture increases scalability and simplifies updates, as an update of a single blockchain will have no effect on others.”
The use of individual blockchains for each dapp is a design philosophy shared by Chromia, Cosmos and Polkadot. Because of this, each project has components which are named differently but share similar functions. For example, if your network is going to consist of multiple chains, it is important to create a method for all of them to communicate with one another. In Chromia’s system, we call this ICMF (Interchain Messaging Facility).
So, is Chromia a Layer 0? In retrospect, probably - but this term originated from other modular designs that we just happen to share similarities with.
How Important Are These Labels?
While the definitions of Layer 0, Layer 1, and Layer 2 blockchains can be somewhat blurry, our priority at Chromia is to provide innovative features and a streamlined user experience. We believe that the success of our platform should be measured by its quality and utility, rather than strict adherence to any particular label.
What matters most is that we are Chromia - a platform that offers unique features, robust developer tools, and cutting-edge interoperability solutions. By enabling cross-chain communication and asset transfer, we are creating a more connected and efficient blockchain ecosystem that benefits users and developers alike.
Our architecture, consensus mechanism, and blockchain protocols all work together to provide a highly customizable, scalable, and secure platform for building decentralized applications. So, while we may be a little bit of everything, we know that our focus on innovation and the user experience will ultimately drive our success.
Modern society runs on data, and every online service you’re using is built upon underlying databases - ranging from your online bank to music streaming and gaming. Chromia is a relational blockchain - a combination of a relational database and a blockchain - making it easy to develop user-friendly decentralized apps for almost any industry, including DeFi, NFTs, gaming, and more.