tl;dr Summary: On June 29, Polygon announced the release of its latest product, Avail. Avail takes the task of data availability away from the blockchain enabling it to focus only on settlement, making it faster and more secure.
A blockchain like Ethereum mainly does three things:
1) Execution: This is the task of executing individual transactions on the blockchain. For example, Alice sends one ETH to Bob in a transaction. The blockchain will first ensure that Alice has the required funds, then the individual accounts are debited and credited, and then this transaction is added to the block.
2) Data Availability: Refers to publishing all the transaction data for the full nodes to verify these transactions. In the above example, this would be the addresses of Alice and Bob and the amount of one ETH.
3) Settlement: This part of the blockchain validates if transactions are correct or not. There are different ways like fraud-proofs and validity-proofs used by blockchains for settlement.
This “monolithic” architecture bundles all these tasks into layer-1 and creates scalability issues. As the network grows, so does the data and the need to perform more transactions per second, increasing the load on validators. This, in turn, reduces decentralization, narrowing the network down to servers in a data center, leading to less security as one can target these data centers.
Rollups are essential in building modular blockchains as they take the execution out of the primary layer onto a different chain. Avail does the same by taking data availability out of layer-1. Its blockchain agnostic design ensures it can work with any layer-1, off-chain scaling solutions like Arbitrum and Optimism, and sidechains like Polygon PoS.
In this new “modular” architecture, individual layers specialize in one task only and work together when required to create a much more robust, decentralized, and secure network.
Avail brings more scalability as it not only moves data availability out from layer-1 but also modifies the process so that only a small sample of the total data is needed to guarantee availability instead of the entire data, solving the Data Availability Problem.
Since only a small data set is required, light clients of layer-1 can participate in transaction verification instead of relying on full nodes, increasing security and scaling the network further.
“In terms of validity, the Avail chain specializes in ordering transactions and keeping them available, and does not validate any transaction unlike monolithic chains,” said Polygon co-founder Anurag Arjun.
Also, off-chain scaling solutions like rollups (layer-2s) can offload the role to the Avail layer rather than creating their data availability protocols, with the latter acting as a secure data hosting site.
Anurag further said, “We believe off-chain scaling solutions and standalone chains will require a robust, scalable data availability solution, and we are excited to be working on this problem.”
Polygon recently announced the launch of the Avail testnet, but it is not the only company pushing for a modular future. In May, Celestia also launched the testnet of its data availability blockchain.
With this new launch, Polygon has added yet another gem of an offering to its existing arsenal, which includes popular zk-rollups like Polygon Miden, Polygon Hermez, and Polygon Zero, along with Polygon Edge and Nightfall.