Arbitrum vs Optimism 2024: Side-by-Side Comparison of Ethereum's Leading Layer 2 Solutions

Arbitrum vs Optimism

In 2024, Arbitrum and Optimism emerge as frontrunners in the race to enhance Ethereum's scalability, each offering unique solutions to the blockchain's limitations. But how do they differ, and which is currently outperforming the other?

Ethereum has revolutionized the way we think about decentralized applications and smart contracts, but it’s not without its challenges. High transaction fees and slower processing times can be a real headache, especially when the network gets congested.

That’s where innovative solutions like Arbitrum and Optimism step in. Most new dApps now choose them due to their impressively high market cap and extremely fast development compared to other Layer 2 solutions.

Join us as we compare the features, explore the differences, and highlight the unique advantages of Arbitrum vs Optimism, and ultimately determine which one best fits your blockchain project.

Want to know the difference between the three Layer 2 solutions: Polygon, Arbitrum, and Optimism? Check out this comparison

What is Arbitrum?

Arbitrum is a Layer 2 solution launched in August 2021, designed to address Ethereum scalability issues. It uses optimistic rollups to process transactions off-chain in batches, significantly reducing congestion and fees on the Ethereum mainnet.

While this innovation initially treats all transactions as valid, Arbitrum sets itself apart with a distinctive dispute resolution mechanism based on a game-theoretic security model. When a dispute arises, which is a rare event, this mechanism activates a verifiable computation process, pinpointing and rectifying any incorrect transactions. This crucial feature guarantees that, despite transactions being processed off-chain, the security and integrity of the network remain robust.

Arbitrum One, the cornerstone of the Arbitrum crypto ecosystem, serves as its official mainnet, driving the network’s expansive capabilities. At its core is the Arbitrum Virtual Machine (AVM), engineered to ensure compatibility with the EVM. With this vital feature, developers can easily move their Ethereum applications to Arbitrum One without making major changes, effectively narrowing the gap between scalability and accessibility for the Ethereum ecosystem.

Moreover, Arbitrum One has secured its position as the fourth-largest blockchain by TVL according to CoinGecko.

What is Optimism?

Launched in December 2021, Optimism is another Layer 2 scaling solution. Similar to Arbitrum, it processes the majority of transactions off-chain, only publishing transaction data on the Ethereum mainnet. This method reduces fees and increases transaction speeds, while still inheriting the security guarantees of Ethereum.

Optimism also leverages optimistic rollups to facilitate near-instant transaction finality and provide interoperability with Ethereum’s existing ecosystem. Plus, it has its own Optimistic Virtual Machine (OVM) designed to be compatible with the EVM, which allows Ethereum smart contracts and dApps to run on Optimism with minimal modifications.

As of March 12, 2024, Optimism is the eighth largest blockchain by total value locked (TVL).

Explore our recommended strategies for using Optimism to enhance a blockchain-based shipper-to-carrier direct freight network

Optimism vs Arbitrum: main similarities explored

Arbitrum vs Optimism: similarities

Optimism vs Arbitrum share several key similarities that position them as leading solutions in the Layer 2 landscape. Below are the main points, explained in detail:

  • Layer 2 rollups:

Both platforms utilize a rollup technology. Rollups execute transactions outside the main Ethereum chain but post transaction data on-chain. This method significantly increases transaction throughput and reduces fees.

  • EVM compatibility:

Both Optimism and Arbitrum are designed to be fully compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine. This compatibility guarantees that smart contracts and decentralized applications developed for Ethereum can be deployed on either scaling solution.

  • Fraud proofs:

Optimism and Arbitrum both employ fraud proofs to secure and validate transactions on their platforms. These proofs enable challenging and correcting any disputed transactions after execution, ensuring network integrity.

  • Decentralization and security:

Optimism and Arbitrum prioritize security and decentralization, allowing users to confidently use decentralized applications with the assurance of Ethereum’s security.

  • Transaction throughput and cost reduction:

A primary goal of both Optimism vs Arbitrum is to increase transaction throughput beyond what is possible on the Ethereum mainnet, while simultaneously reducing transaction costs for users.

By aggregating multiple transactions into a single rollup block, they can offer faster transaction speeds and lower fees compared to executing the same transactions directly on the Ethereum mainnet.

Find out more about our custom ZK rollup services designed to boost your network's efficiency and elevate security and decentralization

Optimism vs Arbitrum: key differences

Aspect Arbitrum Optimism
Ecosystem & community TVL: $15.94B; Market share: 40.88%; Transactions: 565.32M at 5.9 tps; 989K Twitter followers; 345K Discord members TVL: $9.36B; Market share: 24.03%; Transactions: 223.57M at 3.8 tps; 648K Twitter followers; 164,5K Discord members
Tokens ARB: $2.7B cap, $2.18 per token, 10B total supply; Used for governance and security, plus transaction fees OP: $4.5B cap, $4.45 per token, 4.29B starting supply; Used for governance, with ETH for transaction fees
Fraud proof systems Multi-round system; Complex, may have lower dispute costs Single-round system; Simpler, may have higher dispute costs
Virtual machine Arbitrum Virtual Machine (AVM); Features like ArbOS for parallel processing and reduced costs Optimistic Virtual Machine (OVM); Simplifies developer transition with minimal changes needed
Developer experience Potentially higher learning curve due to AVM Easier for Ethereum developers to migrate

Let’s dive into the main differences between Arbitrum and Optimism to understand what distinguishes these prominent Layer 2 solutions.

Size of ecosystems and communities

As of writing, Arbitrum stands out with a total value of $15.94 billion locked in its platform, making up 40.88% of the market share. Additionally, the platform has processed a total of 565.32 million transactions at an average speed of 5.9 per second.

Arbitrum’s community engagement is similarly impressive, with a Twitter following of 989,000 and a Discord community of 345,000 participants, indicating a strong and vibrant support base.

Conversely, Optimism maintains a strong position with a TVL of $9.36 billion, representing a market share of 24.03%. With a total of 223.57 million transactions (3.8 tps), Optimism demonstrates considerable efficiency and the capability to support a wide range of decentralized applications.

The platform’s social media footprint, with 648,000 Twitter followers and 164,500 Discord members, though smaller than Arbitrum’s, still signifies a solid and active community base.

Here are the implications of the differences in ecosystem size and community engagement between Arbitrum vs Optimism:

  • Arbitrum’s leading position
    • Arbitrum’s larger TVL and market share reflect its dominance and trust within the DeFi ecosystem
    • The higher transaction volume and speed suggest Arbitrum’s network is more utilized, supporting a larger scale of operations and potentially offering higher efficiency
    • A larger community on social media platforms signifies broader user engagement and support, possibly enhancing its attractiveness to new users and developers
  • Optimism’s competitive stance
    • Despite its smaller scale, Optimism’s substantial TVL and market share demonstrate its strong presence and credibility in the DeFi market
    • Efficient transaction processing, even at a lower volume and speed than Arbitrum, indicates a robust platform capable of supporting diverse dApps
    • A solid and active community base, though smaller than Arbitrum’s, highlights effective user engagement and suggests a loyal and supportive user network


Each platform has introduced its native token — ARB for Arbitrum and OP for Optimism — playing pivotal roles in their ecosystems.

Arbitrum has positioned its ARB token as a cornerstone of its governance model. With a market capitalization of $2.7 billion and a value of $2.18 per token, the ARB token’s total supply is capped at 10 billion, showcasing a commitment to a predictable and inflation-resistant monetary policy.

The transition to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), the Arbitrum DAO, marks a significant step towards fully democratizing decision-making within the Arbitrum ecosystem. ARB holders are empowered to vote on a wide array of proposals, from protocol upgrades to fund allocations, even determining the composition of the crucial Security Council. This model underscores the importance of ARB as a tool for ensuring the security, efficacy, and future direction of the Arbitrum network.

Optimism, on the other hand, has crafted a similarly compelling narrative around its OP token. With a starting supply of 4.29 billion tokens and a market cap of $4.5 billion — priced at $4.45 per token — OP is at the heart of Optimism’s governance and operational mechanisms.

Unlike Arbitrum, where transaction fees are also processed in its native token, Optimism distinguishes itself by utilizing ETH for transaction fees, reserving OP exclusively for governance and security purposes.

Validators stake OP tokens to participate in network security and transaction validation, receiving non-monetary incentives for their contributions. OP holders wield significant influence over the platform’s development, with the ability to propose and vote on key decisions including protocol upgrades and fee structures.

So, what do these differences indicate? Take a look at these insights:

Governance and monetary policy divergence: Arbitrum’s capped ARB supply and governance focus contrast with Optimism’s use of ETH for fees and OP for governance, highlighting different strategies for network control and economic stability.

  • Governance and monetary policy divergence: Arbitrum’s capped ARB supply and governance focus contrast with Optimism’s use of ETH for fees and OP for governance, highlighting different strategies for network control and economic stability.
  • Decentralized covernance as a common goal: Both platforms aim for decentralized governance, reflecting a broader blockchain trend towards user empowerment and reduced centralized control.
  • Community empowerment and network security: Token-based governance in both ecosystems emphasizes the crucial role of community in decision-making and maintaining network security.
  • Influence on the blockchain governance landscape: The governance models of Arbitrum and Optimism may serve as benchmarks for future blockchain platforms, influencing the development of decentralized, user-centric governance frameworks.

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Fraud proof systems

It is true that this point highlights a similarity between Optimism vs Arbitrum, as they both utilize fraud proof systems. However, the difference lies in the types of fraud proofs they use.

For example, Arbitrum employs an interactive, multi-round fraud proof system. When a transaction is executed off-chain, it’s not immediately finalized on the Ethereum mainnet. Instead, there is a “challenge period” during which any participant can dispute the correctness of the transaction by submitting a fraud proof.

This fraud proof initiates a dispute resolution process that executes the disputed computation on-chain, but only the part of the computation where the first disagreement occurs. This process leverages the Ethereum mainnet’s security to ensure that only correct transactions are finalized.

Optimism, in its turn, uses a single-round fraud proof system. Here, transactions are executed off-chain and posted to the Ethereum mainnet as calldata. Similar to Arbitrum, a challenge period exists where anyone can submit a fraud proof if they believe a transaction was executed incorrectly.

However, Optimism’s single-round approach means that if a fraud proof is submitted, the entire transaction (not just the disputed step) is executed on-chain to verify its correctness. This method simplifies the dispute resolution process but can potentially lead to higher gas costs for fraud proofs, as the whole transaction needs to be re-executed on Ethereum’s Layer 1.

For users and developers, these differences have several implications:

  • Security: Both systems leverage the security of the Ethereum mainnet for dispute resolution, ensuring high levels of security for transactions.
  • Cost: Arbitrum’s approach may lead to lower costs for resolving disputes due to its efficiency in isolating the disputed computation. Optimism’s approach, while simpler, may incur higher costs if the entire transaction needs to be re-executed on-chain.
  • Complexity: Arbitrum’s multi-round process is more complex and might be more challenging for users to understand compared to Optimism’s straightforward single-round system.
  • Finality: The time to finality can vary between the two, influenced by their respective fraud proof mechanisms. Arbitrum’s interactive game can extend the dispute resolution process, whereas Optimism’s single-round execution might lead to quicker finality under certain conditions.

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Virtual machine

Arbitrum runs on the Arbitrum Virtual Machine, which is designed to efficiently execute Ethereum transactions off-chain while maintaining compatibility with Ethereum’s Solidity smart contracts. Unlike the Ethereum Virtual Machine, which directly executes bytecode compiled from Solidity, the AVM introduces an additional layer of abstraction. This layer executes a set of instructions that are higher-level than EVM bytecode, allowing for more efficient processing and potential optimizations in transaction batching and execution.

The AVM’s architecture enables Arbitrum to offer unique features like “ArbOS,” which is responsible for managing state, executing transactions, and handling communication between chains. ArbOS optimizes gas usage and transaction execution by taking advantage of the AVM’s ability to process transactions in parallel, leading to reduced costs and increased throughput.

Optimism utilizes the Optimistic Virtual Machine for its operation. The OVM is closely aligned with the EVM, aiming to offer a seamless transition for developers migrating existing Ethereum applications to Optimism. This close alignment ensures high compatibility with Ethereum’s ecosystem, allowing developers to deploy smart contracts on Optimism with minimal changes.

The OVM prioritizes simplicity and developer experience by reducing the modifications needed for smart contracts to run on its platform. However, this approach means that Optimism might not streamline transaction execution to the same extent as Arbitrum’s AVM. The trade-off is a more straightforward developer experience at the cost of potentially higher execution times for complex transactions.

Here is what these differences mean specifically:

  • Developer onboarding and compatibility: Optimism’s closer alignment with the EVM makes it easier for Ethereum developers to migrate their applications. In contrast, Arbitrum may require a steeper learning curve due to its unique AVM architecture but offers potential performance benefits.
  • Performance and scalability: The AVM’s ability to execute transactions in parallel and its optimizations for off-chain execution potentially offer higher throughput and lower costs than the OVM. However, this advantage depends on the specific use case and how well the smart contract leverages the AVM’s features.
  • Ecosystem integration: The ease of integrating with existing tools, wallets, and services is slightly higher on Optimism due to its EVM-like environment. Arbitrum’s distinct environment may require more adaptation from tooling and infrastructure providers.

Arbitrum vs Optimism: which solution is better?

Arbitrum vs Optimism: suitability

Let’s summarize the key differences and conclude on what blockchain projects each solution fits more.

Arbitrum — ideal for high liquidity and user base projects

  • Larger TVL, market share, transaction volume, and community size: suggests a more established presence in the DeFi space.

Suitable for: Projects seeking a larger user base and more liquidity.

  • Complex, interactive multi-round fraud proof system: offers potentially lower costs for dispute resolutions, enhancing security and cost efficiency.

Suitable for: Projects prioritizing security and cost-effective dispute handling.

  • Arbitrum Virtual Machine: optimizations for transaction batching and execution could mean higher throughput and lower costs.

Suitable for: Projects benefiting from performance advantages, despite a possible steeper learning curve for developers.

Optimism — preferred for ease of development and active community engagement

  • Significant market share and strong community: though smaller, it maintains a robust presence.

Suitable for: Projects valuing a solid and active user base.

  • Simpler, single-round fraud proof system: Favors simplicity and potentially quicker finality, albeit with possibly higher costs for on-chain disputes.

Suitable for: Projects that value simplicity and faster finality.

  • Optimistic Virtual Machine: Closely aligned with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), easing the transition for Ethereum developers.

Suitable for: Projects prioritizing ease of development and minimal changes to migrate from Ethereum.

Ultimately, the choice between Arbitrum and Optimism should be made based on the specific requirements of the project, including factors like the desired community size, governance model, technical needs, and developer experience.

Do you have more questions about blockchain and various Layer 2 solutions? Don’t hesitate to ask our blockchain consultants


The debate over Arbitrum vs Optimism isn’t just about technical specs — it’s a pivotal choice for those looking to leverage the full range of capabilities that blockchain offers. This decision underscores the importance of selecting a Layer 2 solution that best fits a project’s unique requirements, be it Arbitrum’s efficient transaction batching or Optimism’s straightforward, developer-friendly approach.

If you’re planning to utilize Layer 2 innovations, it’s vital to have the right expertise on your side. This is precisely where PixelPlex blockchain development services shine, offering exceptional skill in deploying and fine-tuning Layer 2 solutions like Arbitrum and Optimism.

Our expertise is not just in understanding the technical nuances of these platforms but in recognizing and aligning them with your project’s goals to leverage blockchain technology to its fullest.

Let us help you harness the potential of blockchain technology and Layer 2 solutions to achieve your strategic objectives and propel your project to new heights.

Let us help you harness the potential of blockchain technology and Layer 2 solutions to achieve your strategic objectives and propel your project to new heights. Whether you need a protocol development from scratch or smart contract audits, we got you covered.


Anastasiya Haritonova

Technical Writer

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