As 2023 comes to a close, we believe it’s a great opportunity to look back at all of the progress we’ve made this year — from the many technical launches and feature announcements to the partnerships and collaborations that were formed and everything in between. We’ve had a great year at Offchain Labs, introducing new products to the broader industry, while continuing our mission to make Ethereum an inclusive and accessible platform for all.
Scaling the EVM with WASM
At Offchain Labs, core to our mission and vision is continuing to scale blockchain tech securely with a strong focus on optimizing user experience.
- Back in 2021, the Arbitrum Classic stack launched with fraud proofs that utilized the Arbitrum Virtual Machine.
- In 2022 Arbitrum Nitro replaced the Classic stack and introduced a Web Assembly (WASM)-based prover, which was more performant and further slashed fees. Nitro also enabled using Geth as the chain’s node leading to an even more compatible EVM experience — one that was exactly identical to developing on and using Ethereum.
- Nitro used WASM under the hood, but our ultimate goal was to take this one step further and expose WASM capabilities to application developers, all without compromising the EVM experience for those who preferred it. EVM equivalence was never the end, rather the beginning, and in 2023 we made this a reality with Stylus.
Arbitrum Stylus is an upgrade to the Arbitrum tech stack allowing for developers to code not only in Solidity but Rust, C, C++, (and in principle can be extended to any language that can compile down to WASM) This is all completely opt-in as Stylus maintains complete interoperability with the EVM. EVM equivalence is the floor and it’s not going anywhere. But with Stylus, we began exploring how we can supplement the EVM experience and make it even richer. We call this EVM+.
With 10x efficiency for computation and 100x efficiency for memory, Stylus will continue to scale Arbitrum and Ethereum, slashing gas fees and increasing the chain’s capacity. Its scaling properties combined with its additional language support are also poised to enable entirely new use cases that were previously unachievable on chain including the use of advanced cryptographic libraries, games with logic fully on chain, compute-heavy AI models, and lots more that was previously out of reach due to heavy computational requirements. The community has already started building with Stylus, and you can find a curated list of Stylus projects here.
Stylus is currently on testnet, but is expected to be production ready in 2024 and we look forward to the Arbitrum DAO deliberating on deploying Stylus to Arbitrum One and Nova as well as the usage of Stylus in Orbit chains.
Relinquishing Power to the Community
In March, governance and control of Arbitrum One and Nova transitioned to the Arbitrum DAO. The Arbitrum DAO has been a leader in both technological and governance decentralization and is the only generalized L2 to have achieved Stage 1 decentralization. Arbitrum governance is self-executing meaning the DAO votes on-chain and those votes themselves cause the outcomes to execute on-chain. To date, the Arbitrum DAO has passed 11 proposals, the community has deeply engaged on over 400 discussion topics on the forum, and established a global presence with Ambassadors and DAO members in more than 130 countries.
Experimenting with a Modular Template
This year we launched Arbitrum Orbit– a path to launching Arbitrum chains customizable with features, including custom gas tokens, modular DA layers, and the ability to adopt new technical upgrades and features like Stylus. To date, there are 15+ teams across multiple Rollup-as-a-Service (RaaS) providers building Orbit chains, with dozens more in earlier stages of development set to launch in 2024.
Arbitrum Orbit is mainnet ready with broad support from RaaS providers including Alt-layer, Caldera, and Conduit. Orbit Chains harness the power of Nitro, the fully built-out tech stack that drives Arbitrum’s public chains, such as Arbitrum One.
Developing Permissionless Validation
In August we introduced BOLD, a dispute protocol we developed to enable permissionless validation for Arbitrum chains. BOLD’s design removes potential attack vectors that could delay assertions from being confirmed which would lead to a delay in withdrawal of deposits back to Ethereum mainnet.
BOLD changes the current validation framework by giving Arbitrum chains a fixed, upper bound 7 days of additional delay. Furthermore, it only requires a single honest validator to successfully dispute against any number of adversaries. This means that every user can participate in validating any Arbitrum chain where BOLD is implemented, the ultimate goal for a fraud proof system.
Currently, BOLD is progressing towards a testnet phase, which will allow the community to directly interact with it. The audited code for BOLD can be found here.
We are actively contributing to the future of Ethereum, convinced that collaborative efforts will lead to a more unified and successful Ethereum. At Offchain Labs, we’re best known for contributing to the Arbitrum technology stack, but we also contribute directly to L1 efforts through our development and funding of Prysm, the leading Ethereum consensus client.
On the heels of the Merge in late 2022, the Prysm team had another fantastic year contributing to core Ethereum development. In April, the Prysm team successfully participated in the launch of the Capella upgrade on Ethereum mainnet, enabling ETH withdrawals for stakers and one of the biggest upgrades to Ethereum itself since the Merge. The Prysm team has also shipped more than 10 client releases, resulting in enhancements in both performance and reliability. Presently, we are working on EIP4844 with the broader Ethereum community, with an anticipated release in the first quarter of 2023.
Beyond our direct contributions to Ethereum, we have also developed deep collaborations throughout the ecosystems in our efforts to scale Ethereum and its values Most recently, we announced our research team’s collaboration with Espresso systems to build Timeboost ordering protocol for Arbitrum transactions and contribute to Espresso System’s shared sequencing protocol.
We’re supporting the Xai team on the launch of their Arbitrum Orbit chain, which has already seen remarkable success with their testnet launch. This custom network is designed with gaming in mind and offers opportunities for games to improve scalability and efficiency, with the ultimate goal of reducing costs and accelerating the adoption of onchain gaming.
We also want to give a special shout out to Fhenix, a team building a rollup that utilizes fully homomorphic encryption to enable confidential smart contracts using the Arbitrum Nitro stack.
More recently, in collaboration with the Arbitrum Foundation and Horizen Labs, we announced our proposal to build ApeChain– an Orbit chain powered by ApeCoin for the broader Ape community. This collaboration brings together many different teams to leverage the power of Arbitrum’s technology to allow ApeChain to scale and succeed on Ethereum..We are excited to continue to explore ways in which we can collaborate and contribute to the broader ecosystem and community in the coming year!
As we bid farewell to 2023, we continue to reflect on the announcements, partnerships, and growth within the organization and the broader ecosystem to create products and services that better Ethereum. Brace yourselves for an exciting journey in 2024 as we have much more in store to share!