Modular VS. Monolithic Blockchains

By Ether Crunch | Ether Crunch | 24 Feb 2024

Monolithic Blockchains:

All tasks are carried out in a single layer. Nodes in these layers carry out all processes: validating transactions, executing consensus, etc. Additionally, all transaction data is stored on this layer, making it a fully functional layer. This results in a layer that is congested and not very scalable. The first cryptocurrencies were all monolithic, like Bitcoin.


  • Simplicity: Because all processes are located in only one layer, it simplifies the complexity involved with these types of chains. Additionally, it makes it far easier to update and improve upon.
  • Consistency: This simple design enables this chain to run in a stable manner, which contributes to its stable blockchain environment.
  • Security: Typically, these chains have high decentralization, which prevents any sort of bad actor or hacker from damaging the system or exploiting any weakness.


  • Inflexibility: Because the whole system is structured in a single layer, it makes it much harder to make any changes. This can contribute to high fees and congestion when there are more users than normal/high network traffic.
  • Consensus Vulnerabilities: Since all processes are stored in one layer, any breach would expose threats to any part of the network. Additionally, these blockchains generally use one type of consensus mechanism to ensure security, which, as before, could be breached and expose threats to any part of the network.
  • Rigidness: Monolithic blockchains are structured to support only one chain, so any upgrades or improvements would be difficult to implement. This can severely hurt the blockchain’s scalability and is often the cause of congestion.

Modular Blockchains

Tasks are split between multiple layers. Certain tasks are completed on the main layer, while the rest are distributed among different layers. An example of this is Celestia, where there are three layers, each with their own purpose: Execution, Settlement, and Consensus and Data Availability.

  • Execution: Deals with the execution of transactions and the operations of Smart contracts
  • Settlement: Serves to validate transactions, prove verifications, and resolve disputes.
  • Consensus and Data Availability: Ensure the availability of transaction data and agree on the transaction data


  • Scalability: Compared to Monolithic blockchains, Modular blockchains are far more scalable, as they are capable of offloading transactions to other layers to ensure a smooth flow of processing transactions as well as other processes. Additionally, data is spread across multiple layers, which contributes to the lack of congestion on the main network.
  • Parental Security: Because transactions are shared among different layers, it requires these other layers to be as secure as the parent layer. Modular blockchains have layers that are connected to the parent chain, providing shared security.
  • Adaptability: Modular blockchains feature far more interoperability, scalability, and flexibility, thereby allowing them to adapt to network conditions far better than monolithic blockchains can. This can also help to promote collaboration.


  • Bridge Security: One key aspect of modular blockchains is their interoperability through bridges, but bridges are quite vulnerable to attacks by hackers, as they are a point where assets are transferred. Therefore, modular blockchains are more vulnerable to attacks than monolithic ones.
  • Complexity: Creating a modular blockchain is far more complex and difficult than a monolithic one. Additionally, upgrading these chains can be far more difficult as they have multiple components that work together in a specific fashion.

Overall, both Modular and Monolithic blockchains are in use today. Bitcoin, Cardano, and Solana are examples of monolithic blockchains, while Ethereum, Avail, and Celestia are modular blockchains. In the future, however, it is more likely that Modular blockchains will dominate as they offer far more scalability and interoperability, yet security is still a major issue in these blockchains.

If you want to learn more, check out the links below:

Monolithic vs. modular blockchains: What’s the difference?

Modular vs. Monolithic Blockchains

Modular Blockchains vs. Monolithic Blockchains

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Ether Crunch
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Basics to blockchain, crypto, and ethereum.

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