Metis to Launch Andromeda, Honoring Our Commitment to Decentralization

Metis got its start as a hard fork of Optimism. Our founders loved the effectiveness and simplicity of rollup technology, which enabled Optimistic Rollups to bundle massive numbers of transactions to create a much faster, cheaper, and more scalable user experience. More than that, we appreciated how Optimistic Rollups could be built as Layer 2 Ethereum scaling solutions, meaning they benefit from all the security and decentralization of the Ethereum blockchain.

The upcoming OVM 2.0 release, and the literature that the Optimism team has published about it, confirm a major change in plans: Optimism will no longer offer the same level of decentralization that it originally envisioned.

Metis still intends to follow most of Optimism’s overall architecture. But we also refuse to compromise when it comes to decentralization. Our future plans will thus reflect our commitment to offering maximum scalability, without skimping on decentralization.

The shift to EVM Equivalence

In its recent article, Optimism proposed the concept of “EVM Equivalence” to replace its original vision of “EVM Compatibility”. In the article, Optimism described how EVM Compatibility would be a huge hurdle for current Ethereum DApps migrating to Layer 2, as “settling for mere compatibility means that you are forced to modify, or even completely reimplement, lower-level code that Ethereum’s supporting infrastructure also relies on.”

We can confirm that this is true. Metis’ team has also received painful feedback from developers regarding these compatibility issues. As a result, we understand the desire to switch to EVM Equivalence, since doing so could enable some Ethereum projects to experience an easier process as they migrate their DApps onto Layer 2 networks.

However, everything comes at a price. When we looked deeper into the design of OVM 2.0, we found that switching to EVM Equivalence (without making any other adjustments) means compromising much of the decentralization originally proposed through OVM. In short, OVM 2.0 will fundamentally change its implementation of Optimistic Rollups, creating an environment in which, as Optimism’s article explains, “Fraud Proofs are dead.” In the new design, the onchain transaction challenging model will be disabled, which means we can no longer rely on the strong consensus on Layer 1 to challenge transactions.

Optimism’s new changes do not comply with Metis’ vision, mission, or DNA. By moving to EVM Equivalence without making other adjustments, the Optimism team is instituting a far more centralized system, one which requires network users to simply trust that Optimism will do no wrong. These changes directly contradict everything that Metis is building, and everything that we stand for.

From the beginning, Metis’ goal has been to make blockchain accessible to everyone. To do so, we’re building a three-pronged approach:

  • a Layer 2 Ethereum Rollup enabling fast and cheap transactions
  • no-code middleware enabling anyone (even total blockchain novices) to migrate onto Metis Layer 2 in just a couple of minutes and a few clicks, thanks to our smart contract templates
  • a Decentralized Autonomous Company (DAC) infrastructure that goes far beyond the simple voting and governance functions of DAOs, enabling anyone to build decentralized businesses on-chain, with all the real-world functions of a “real-world” company, and all the benefits that come with being built on blockchain.

Through every step of that approach, we seek only the highest levels of decentralization and the highest levels of security. We do not and will not compromise.

As a result, our team has spent weeks discussing and debating whether we should completely diverge from OVM. This is a very difficult decision to make, because we understand that EVM Equivalence is what DApps and the Ethereum community need, both now and when the upcoming Ethereum 2.0 launch happens. In the end, all of our discussions boiled down to one huge question: Can we achieve our goal of decentralization within the EVM Equivalence framework?

The answer is…YES.

How Metis will achieve EVM Equivalence and decentralization

After weeks of round-the-clock research from our amazing team of developers, we have found a path to achieve our dual goals of decentralization and EVM Equivalence. This path exactly matches the design of the Metis Ranger System, which we detail in our whitepaper.

It’s important to note that once we move to EVM Equivalence, full on-chain proofs become impossible. So here’s how Metis will stick to its original DNA and honor its commitment to decentralization:

First, our sequencer pool model adds a level of redundancy and decentralization that a single-sequencer Rollup structure cannot. In the upcoming release, we also introduce the peer network to Metis. Verifiers participating in the peer network are automatically enrolled in the sequencer pool once the pool is fully open.

Next, consider the evolution of the Metis Ranger System. In our original design, our Ranger System would have needed a lot of consensus from Layer 1. In our new design, Rangers will reach consensus more efficiently. Through the consensus reached by these Rangers, Verifiers will be able to challenge transactions and initiate fraud proofs, via the Peer Nodes that we are building. Groups of Peer Nodes will collectively act as a verifier entity that can verify and challenge sequencers. Each verifier entity will then reach a consensus on Layer 1 when a challenge is required before the finalization window expires. When a challenge is initiated and corroborated by other verifier entities via Layer 1 consensus, the problematic sequencer will be slashed, penalized, and taken offline. Another sequencer will be selected from the sequencer pool with the correct state to start. The chain will be reorganized accordingly by dropping the problematic blocks. This process will happen fairly fast because of the distributed nature of Metis’ chain storage within the peer network.

It is worth mentioning that a side benefit of the ranger system is a shortened transaction finalization window, i.e. the time users need to wait for the withdrawal to finish. Each verifier entity will track and report the current height of the validation based on the ranger consensus ensuring the quality of the validation. It serves as a pulse check of the overall health of the validation network, which further reinforces the security of assets.

Our design will also help reach the goal of network auto-amendment, because it is our firm belief that fraud proofs by themselves are not enough; the network infrastructure should have the ability to adjust and amend itself to achieve the security and scalability necessary for long-term, continuous operations.

Choosing to commit to both EVM Equivalence and decentralization is certainly the more challenging path to code. Going this route means we have to adjust and review all the coding that we have already conducted, to verify if there are any conflicts or potential risks. This will mean lots of sleepless nights for our development team.

Still, we’re pressing on. From day one of our project, we have committed to building a network that meets the highest standards of scalability, decentralization, and security. That’s the network we plan to deliver to our wonderful community of partners and users, and the blockchain world as a whole. It will start with delivery of our Andromeda Layer 2 network, the first phase of our mainnet launch.

So what happens next?

We will retire the Metis Dragonfire testnet (Chain ID: 488) and deploy a new testnet with EVM Equivalence this week, called “Stardust” (Chain ID: 588). To ensure that everything goes smoothly, we will open a new round of testing on our DAC Staking and Mining offering. Once the testing is completed, we will release Andromeda on our new framework, merging EVM Equivalency with our staunch commitment to decentralization.

Andromeda will thus launch during the week of November 15, 2021. DAC creation and staking $METIS tokens (with starting/variable APY of 29000%) launches no more than one week later.

What should you expect from Andromeda?

It’s important to note that our upcoming launch represents far more than the release of a single application. Andromeda is an entire structure, one that features a long list of new, innovative features.

That structure includes:

  • The Andromeda Layer2 network
  • Multi-VM: decentralized virtual machines to support the scalability and security of Metis Layer 2 infrastructure
  • Peer Nodes: to perform fraud proofs and reach consensus during the process of load balancing
  • EVM Equivalence: no need to tailor or modify your EVM smart contracts anymore
  • Metis Explorer: check all on-chain transactions and verify smart contract calls (for high-end users)
  • Metis Bridge: a bridge to transfer tokens between Ethereum mainnet and Metis Layer 2. In the current version, you’ll only be able to bridge $METIS tokens; more tokens and NFTs will be available for bridging in our following Layer 2 network releases.
  • Polis: the place for users to create their account (wallet) or connect with MetaMask, and also the place for developers to manage their domains, smart contracts, and APIs.
  • First DAC template and DApps running on the Metis Layer 2 network, Andromeda
  • DAC Staking and Mining: harnessing the power of community to create your own DACs on Layer 2, stake, and gain rewards.

(Important notice: For the Andromeda release, we have adjusted and prolonged the deposit time from L1 to L2 to keep assets more secure.)

What’s coming after Andromeda?

  1. A fast bridge collaborated with several third-party cross-chain bridges (we will announce more details once we choose the right ones) to shorten withdrawal time. In the current version of our Layer 2 network, people will still need to wait seven days to withdraw from Layer 2 to Layer 1. In a future network release, withdrawals will occur in a matter of minutes. Metis’ native withdrawal bridge enabling fast withdrawals, along with our Ranger system, will be launched next year.
  2. After launching Peer Nodes on Andromeda, load balancing will be supported in our next network release (next month).
  3. Transaction costs on Andromeda will fall well below Ethereum Layer 1 levels, but will still remain relatively high (now around $1-$2) compared to our future plans. Metis will launch its IPFS technology early next year, enabling inexpensive, on-chain data storage, and transactions on our Layer 2 network that will cost just a few cents.

Follow us on Twitter, Telegram, and Discord for more updates. And buckle up. After years of hard work behind the scenes, we’re about to show the world what scalability, decentralization, and security look like when combined into one powerful Layer 2 network.

Layer 2 protocol to run Decentralized Economies