Cardano's layered architecture: A closer look at settlement and computation layers

5 minutes

Rainerio Vallejo
13/09/2023 12:00 AM


    Cryptocurrencies have evolved beyond simple digital cash systems. They now offer complex functionalities like smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps). To support these advanced features, blockchain platforms have had to adapt. Cardano's approach to this adaptation involves a layered architecture.

    Understanding layered blockchain architecture

    Layered blockchain architecture is a design framework that separates a blockchain platform into multiple layers, each with specific functions and purposes. This separation allows for scalability, flexibility, and easier maintenance. Cardano's layered approach consists of two primary layers: the Settlement Layer and the Computation Layer.

    Cardano's vision

    Cardano's mission is to create a blockchain platform that is secure, scalable, and sustainable. Its layered architecture is a critical component of achieving this vision. Let's take a closer look at each layer:

    Settlement layer: Transacting value

    The Settlement Layer, also known as the Cardano Blockchain, is responsible for handling transactions and the transfer of value. It utilizes a unique consensus algorithm called Ouroboros, which ensures security and scalability. This layer is where ADA, Cardano's native cryptocurrency, is used for transactions and as a store of value.

    Computation layer: Smart contracts and DApps

    The Computation Layer, also known as the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL), is where the magic of smart contracts and DApps happens. It is a separate layer from the Settlement Layer to enhance security and flexibility. Cardano's smart contract language, Plutus, and the DApp development platform, Marlowe, reside in this layer. Developers can build and deploy smart contracts and DApps without affecting the Settlement Layer's stability.

    Key advantages of Cardano's approach

    Cardano's layered architecture offers several advantages:

    1. Scalability: By separating the settlement and computation functions, Cardano can scale each layer independently. This prevents congestion and allows for smoother growth.
    2. Interoperability: The layered approach promotes interoperability between different blockchains and legacy financial systems, making Cardano an attractive choice for integration.
    3. Security: Isolating smart contracts and DApps from the settlement layer enhances security. Vulnerabilities in smart contracts are less likely to impact the core blockchain.
    4. Sustainability: Cardano's commitment to sustainability extends to its energy-efficient consensus algorithm and its focus on reducing the environmental impact of blockchain technology.

    Challenges and future developments

    While Cardano's layered architecture offers numerous benefits, it also faces challenges, including adoption and competition. The blockchain space is highly competitive, with various projects vying for dominance. Cardano continues to work on improving its layers and attracting developers and users.


    Cardano's layered architecture, with its Settlement and Computation Layers, demonstrates a commitment to creating a robust and sustainable blockchain platform. By addressing scalability, security, and interoperability, Cardano aims to provide a solid foundation for the future of blockchain technology.


    Cardano's layered architecture divides the platform into distinct but interconnected layers: the Settlement Layer, responsible for transactions and value transfer, and the Computation Layer, focused on smart contracts and DApps.
    The Settlement Layer, also known as the Cardano Blockchain, handles transactions and the transfer of value using Cardano's native cryptocurrency, ADA.
    The Computation Layer, or Cardano Computation Layer (CCL), is where smart contracts and DApps are built and executed. It utilizes the Plutus smart contract language and Marlowe DApp development platform.
    Cardano's layered architecture offers scalability, interoperability, security, and sustainability. It allows for independent scaling of layers, promotes integration with other systems, enhances security, and focuses on environmental sustainability.
    Cardano faces challenges related to adoption and competition in the blockchain space. It continues to work on improving its layers and attracting developers and users to its platform.

    🚀 ToTheMoonScore