Get to Know Polygon: Ethereum's Layer 2 Scaling Solution

Get to Know Polygon: Ethereum's Layer 2 Scaling Solution

Blockchain Knowledge

Crypto APIs Team

Oct 7, 2022 • 7 min

Polygon provides developers with a wide range of solutions from the Polygon SDK allowing them to build Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks and applications. But getting the most out of the layer 2 scaling solution means having a basic understanding of what Polygon is and how it works. 

What Is Polygon?

Polygon is an Ethereum scaling solution, formerly known as the Matic Network. Created in October 2017 by a group of experienced Ethereum developers, the Matic Network went live in 2020 and was then rebranded to become Polygon in February 2021.  

Polygon is a multi-layered platform that runs on and alongside the Ethereum blockchain providing a bridge between Ethereum-based projects. 

What Does Polygon Mean to Ethereum?

One of the motivations behind Polygon was to improve Ethereum transaction speed and fees. As Ethereum pioneered smart contracts becoming the launchpad of the NFT boom and giving rise to an ecosystem of DeFi applications, the network became a victim of its own popularity. 

The increase in traffic resulted in ridiculously high gas fees as people vied for validator attention for their transactions and long waiting times for lower value gas fees. This meant that small or frequent transactions were often economically unviable.

Polygon was designed to be a solution to Ethereum’s gas fees and throughput issues while also increasing security, efficiency and usefulness. Polygon allows developers to build innovative products on Ethereum quicker and more easily, thus expanding the Ethereum ecosystem.

Polygon is also known as “Ethereum's internet of blockchains" as it facilitates interaction between Ethereum-based blockchain networks. By doing so, Polygon effectively transforms Ethereum into a multi-chain system. 

Polygon Consensus Mechanism

The main Polygon sidechain uses a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. It leverages a network of validators off-chain before finalizing the transactions on Ethereum’s main chain. This takes the strain off Ethereum which eases network congestion, speeds up transactions while lowering the gas fees.

Polygon validators verify new transactions and add them to the blockchain. In exchange for their hard work, they are rewarded with a percentage of the fees contained in a block and newly created MATIC. 

Becoming a Polygon validator requires running a full-time node and staking your own MATIC. According to the Polygon technical documents the minimal hardware configuration for a Polygon full node are as follows:

RAM: 16-32 GB

CPU: 4-8 core CPU (t3 xLarge)

Storage: Minimum 1.2TB SSD (make sure it is extendable)

Just be aware that as the network grows so do the minimum storage requirements. If you’re interested in running a robust full node, then it is recommended to use more than the minimum requirements.

Polygon Token

After the rebranding, Polygon kept MATIC as its native coin. MATIC is an ERC-20 token compatible with Ethereum. The digital coin fuels the Polygon network by being used as the unit of payment of fees for interacting with the blockchain, governance, and staking. It can also be used to trade and is available to be bought or sold on multiple cryptocurrency exchanges. 

As of the time of writing, MATIC is ranked #11 on CoinMarketCap with a circulating supply of 8,734,317,475 MATIC coins from a maximum supply of 10,000,000,000 MATIC coins.

Top Polygon Projects

Polygon has established itself as a practical solution for many Ethereum projects as the ongoing upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 is still being rolled out. Users and developers alike are being attracted by Polygon’s high scalability and low gas expenses. 
Let’s take a look at the most popular dApps built on the Polygon network.  

QuickSwap is a permissionless decentralized exchange (DEX) based on Ethereum, powered by Polygon’s layer 2 scalability infrastructure. Utilizing Polygon’s power for transactions means QuickSwap users can trade any ERC20 asset with lightning-fast speeds and near-zero gas fees.

Tetu is a Web 3 asset management protocol built on Polygon. Its innovative solutions provide investors with a safe and secure method of receiving a high and stable yield on their investments. 

Pegaxy is a Play-to-Earn mech-horse racing game built on the Polygon Network. Players can own, raise, race and trade the mech-horses with other owners on the marketplace. Users can also earn rewards as they go by providing the stables with ingredients or racing and a weekly income based on their potential, composition and breeding. 

Arc8 by GAMEE
GAMEE is an Ethereum based utility token using Polygon as L2 scaling solution. Arc8 is a play-to-earn mobile gaming experience that combines e-sports and crypto to bring the blockchain to millions of gamers. Users play to win GMEE tokens through competitive gaming and robot collectibles.

Polygon Architecture

Polygon architecture is made up of four abstract and composable layers. The first two layers, the Ethereum Layer and Security Layer, are non-mandatory for developers, while the other two Polygon Network Layer and the Execution Layer are mandatory aspects of the architecture.

Ethereum Layer

Polygon chains can use (but don’t have to) the Ethereum layer as a base layer and take advantage of its decentralized nature and high security. This layer is implemented as a set of smart contracts on Ethereum and can be used for things like finality, checkpointing, staking, dispute resolution, and relaying messaging between Ethereum and Polygon chains. 

Security Layer

The security layer provides a “validator as a service” function. It allows Polygon chains to make use of a set of validators that can periodically check the validity of the Polygon chain for a fee. The security layer runs in parallel with Ethereum and can be used for validator management (registering and deregistering), rewards, shuffling, and Polygon chain validation. 

This fully abstract layer can have multiple implementations with varying characteristics. It can also be implemented directly on Ethereum, so projects can leverage Ethereum’s miners as validators. Again, this layer is optional for developers.

Polygon Networks Layer

This mandatory layer consists of sovereign blockchain networks. Each network can maintain functions such as block production, consensus, and transaction collation. If you are creating a project on Polygon, you will be required to build on the Polygon Networks Layer.

Execution Layer

The execution layer is responsible for interpreting and executing transactions included in Polygon chains. It is made up of the execution environment and execution logic sub-layers. Again, any project on Polygon is required to build on this layer.

Polygon’s architecture is specially designed to be generic and abstract so that other applications looking to scale can choose the best scaling solution for their needs. 

For example, a DeFi protocol which plans to store huge amounts of cryptocurrencies will likely choose to build on the Ethereum Layer for its added security. Whereas, a blockchain-based game wanting to rely on its own consensus mechanism with extra-fast block time could forgo the Ethereum and Security layer and focus on the Polygon Network Layer for its sovereignty. 

Although developers can choose which architecture layer to build on, the Polygon network makes it easy to migrate from one scaling solution to the other. 

Ethereum-Polygon Bridge

Polygon provides a two-way transaction channel between Polygon and Ethereum both for Mumbai and Mainnet by introducing a cross-chain bridge.  
The bridge allows users to move tokens from the root chain to the child chain or in other words from Ethereum to Polygon Matic (and vice versa).

There are two main Polygon bridges - the Plasma bridge and the Proof of Stake bridge (PoS Bridge). When a token crosses the bridge, no change to the circulating supply of the token happens. Tokens moved from the Ethereum network are locked and the same number of tokens are minted on Polygon as a pegged token (1:1). If you want to move them back to Ethereum, tokens are burned on Polygon network and unlocked on Ethereum network during the process.

Some of the biggest advantages of the Polygon bridge are the low gas fees, faster transaction processing and limitation of third-party protocols involvement. The Plasma bridge also provides increased security due to the Plasma exit mechanism. 

How to Access Polygon Nodes with Crypto APIs

The Polygon network combines complex blockchain technology and architecture with cryptographic algorithms needing protocol expertise, powerful equipment and a considerable budget to manage. 

These requirements can mean SMEs needing access to Polygon blockchain data or wishing to participate on the network are priced out. 

Crypto APIs Nodes as a Service is the solution, providing reliable infrastructure and technical knowledge to help enterprises get a piece of the Polygon action.  

Our Nodes as a Service gives easy access to data from Polygon, allowing you to build robust dApps and applications integrated with the blockchain that is bringing the world to Ethereum.

To find out more about our Nodes as a Service, contact the Crypto APIs team today.

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