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What is Plasma? (Ethereum Scaling Solution)

What is Plasma

If you’re following the progress of Ethereum, you’ll likely have heard the term Plasma mentioned. It’s all over the web. But, what is Plasma?

What is Plasma?

Plasma is a second-layer Ethereum scaling solution. It’s a new place for transactions to take place separate from the Ethereum mainchain.

We can remember Plasma as the sidechain solution for Ethereum.

Unlike the Raiden Network (another second-layer Ethereum scaling solution), Plasma can accommodate large transactions, but the fees may be slightly dearer than the ones incurred on the Raiden Network.

How Does Plasma Work?

It provides the second layer by introducing sidechains. These sidechains will process transactions for the Ethereum blockchain, and only need to interact with it every once in a while.

Yes, this seems similar to Raiden, but Plasma does not involve generic channels, like Raiden’s state channels. Instead, the sidechains can be thought of as individual entire blockchains.

We can refer to these sidechains as Plasma chains.

DApps on Ethereum all currently run on the Ethereum mainchain. This is a huge problem because the Ethereum mainchain can only process around 7-15 transactions per second.

What if DApps ran on Plasma chains, though? They could then process all their transactions on Plasma chains and only report back to the Ethereum mainnet when they need to. That way, the Ethereum mainnet is clear of all unnecessary congestion.

All Plasma chains source back to their mother — the Ethereum mainchain. You can have thousands of transactions per second occurring on the Plasma chains, yet the Ethereum mainchain doesn’t need to surpass its limit (of around 14 per second) because its interactions with the Plasma chains are infrequent.

Did you know?

From a Plasma chain, you can go even further by nesting another chain from that Plasma chain. From there, you can nest another! It’s kind of like the movie Inception, but with blockchains.

When Should We Expect Plasma?

It is Plasma that is said to be the leading second-layer Ethereum scaling solution, so there is reason to believe we should see it launched before other solutions. Also, Vitalik Buterin recently stated that ‘Plasma is happening’ on Twitter, which is reassuring for anyone particularly in favor of this solution.

So, again, it’s difficult to give an expected time other than ‘soon’. We will certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for more information on its development, though, and we will be sure to post an article when anything is said.

If you enjoyed our What is Plasma guide, be sure to check out our guides on What is RaidenWhat is PoS and What is Sharding to learn about the other Ethereum scaling solutions that are currently under development.


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