Synapse Bridge - Modular or Monolithic?

The Synapse universe has 2 core components:

  • The Synapse Bridge - The fastest and cheapest bridge between 19 chains. Processed $45B+ in volume and 10.5M transactions.

  • The Synapse Interchain Network - A decentralized network that allows applications to pass data, read and write between chains.

Today, I want to talk about the vision for Synapse Bridge and a vision for the crypto ecosystem at large.

Modular vs Monolithic

In blockchains, we have two dominant views I’ll oversimplify.

Modular - Give users and developers the freedom to choose which components they want to use. Build an ecosystem of different solutions optimized for different parts of the stack. Mix and match as desired.

Monolithic - Use a single integrated architecture from end to end. For example, a single blockchain as settlement, execution and data availability.

This blog post from Celstia does a good job of explaining the differences.

Modular Bridge Expansion

Synapse Bridge is the cheapest, fastest and most capital efficient bridge. Today, Synapse uses 4 different bridge modules to construct the best transaction for a user. Any bridge design has to pick tradeoffs between speed, cost and capital efficiency. Instead of building a monolithic architecture, Synapse has built a set of bridge modules that come together depending on the size, chain and tokens a user wants to bridge.

  • Synapse RFQ - Bridge transactions are turned into auctions. Relayers compete to provide the best quotes for users, bridges complete in 10 seconds.

  • Synapse liquidity pools - Stable swap pools with liquidity provided by LPs allowing swaps between stables(USDC, USDT, DAI, etc) and nUSD(Synapse’s interchain stablecoin).

  • Synapse CCTP - In partnership with Circle, allows slippage-free transfer of USDC between chains.

  • Synapse X - Swaps using external liquidity pools so users can bridge a larger variety of assets Synapse pools don’t natively support. External protocols supported today:

    • Curve

    • Aerodrom

    • MakerDAO PSM

    • Trader Joe

    • Uniswap

    • Velodrome

Cheapest & Fastest

Every bridge transaction is optimized for speed and cost and is routed through a combination of bridge modules without the user thinking about it. Let’s take a simple example, a user wants to bridge USDT from Arbitrum and receive USDC on Optimism:

  1. Synapse’s router checks all DEXs for the best price, and decides Curve is the cheapest

  2. The user’s USDT is swapped to USDC through Synapse X

  3. Synapse’s router compares bridge pricing on liquidity pools, CCTP and RFQ, it sees that RFQ is the cheapest and fastest

  4. The user’s funds are bridged from Arbitrum to Optimism using RFQ

Synapse Bridge Transaction Flow
Synapse Bridge Transaction Flow

Capital Efficiency

Let’s think of a monolithic bridge that uses liquidity pools. For every new chain or token they want to support, the protocol has to deploy a new pool on a given chain and get LPs to commit those tokens.

With Synapse’s bridge modules, we support bridging stablecoins like LUSD, crvUSD, FRAX, etc. We don’t have any pools with these tokens. Instead, they’re swapped into a bridgable token through Synapse X, routed through the best bridge option and swapped back into whatever token the user wants.

Synapse can support new tokens without having to deploy a new pool. In the future, we can support wBTC, stETH and a long tail of altcoins and stables without ever deploying a new pool or contract.

As more, more and more volume and assets come on-chain, bridging is going to 100x. Whether it be users or under the hood within applications. If you want to move 1M USDC, you should use CCTP, if you want to move $100k you should get instant quotes via RFQ. If you want to bridge crvUSD you should swap it into USDC first then swap back into crvUSD on the destination chain.

But really, you should just use Synapse. Because it’ll always give you the right tradeoff

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