The race to scale Ethereum with the zkEVM rollup

important point

  • zkSync, StarkNet, Polygon zkEVM, and Scroll are part of the larger ZK-Rollup project built with EVM compatibility in mind.
  • Each project tackles issues of throughput, cryptographic proof, and EVM compatibility levels in its own way.
  • ZK-Rollups is expected to become one of Ethereum’s most important scaling weapons in the coming years.

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As Ethereum sets its sights on mass adoption, ZK-Rollup technology has emerged as a strong candidate for scaling blockchains, reducing transaction costs, and increasing throughput. crypto briefing decompose fCompatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine currently under development, the leading ZK-Rollups each promise different benefits within the Ethereum ecosystem.

Ethereum Tackling Transaction Fees

Ethereum faces scaling challenges.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of Ethereum is the high cost of using the network, which has become a matter of blockchain survival. The rise of DeFi protocols and NFTs has increased the demand for Ethereum blockspace. While most transactions cost a few cents in 2019, at the peak of the bull market in 2021, activities such as his NFT issuance on the blockchain regularly cost hundreds of dollars. I was. As a result, many retail market participants found their prices off the network and turned to other networks such as Solana, Avalanche and Binance Smart Chain. Today, despite sluggish network activity due to market conditions, the cost of a simple transaction such as an ETH transfer is $2-3, far exceeding the cost of Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin. increase. ideal goal Less than $0.05 per transaction.

Rollups provide a way to reduce congestion on the Ethereum blockchain. This is because instead of relying on the base chain to process the computational data for each transaction, we outsource the data off-chain to process it and send the transaction back to Ethereum.with rollup, ethereum It frees up block space because you only need to verify the proof itself, not the entire data. Rollups also allow transactions to be bundled together, allowing users to split gas bills.

Zero knowledge rollup, also known as ZK-Rollups, use cryptographic proofs called ZK-SNERKS (“Zero-Knowledge Concise Arguments of Knowledge”) to indicate to the Ethereum mainnet that a transaction has been processed. These zero-knowledge proofs can be verified quickly, even when analyzing the underlying data takes a long time.

Some ZK-Rollup projects currently in development have announced their intention to remain compatible with the Ethereum virtual machine, giving Ethereum developers a way to import smart contracts into their rollups without modification. I’m here.But like buterin explained Not all zkEVM projects are created equal, according to a recent blog post. Some are optimized for full EVM configurability, others for fast throughput.


Developed by Matter Labs, zkSync is one of the most anticipated zkEVM projects. Boasting 2,000 transactions per second, 10 minute processing time between rollup and Ethereum mainnet, and no upper limit on the value rollup can safely handle, zkSync is a major project in the zkEVM space.

Despite marketing, zkSync is technically incompatible with EVM and compatible with Solidity and Vyper, the two coding languages ​​used on Ethereum. The difference is small for users, but important for developers. Among other things, Contract addresses may differ, handwritten EVM code may not be supported, and debug infrastructure may not necessarily carry over.

The rollup is now live on the Ethereum testnet. The mainnet launch will be done in three steps. A fair launch that welcomes all Ethereum ecosystem projects but leaves user access limited. Full alpha expected by the end of the year. No details have been announced yet, but the zkSync token is expected.


StarkWare’s StarkNet is another leading contender in the zkEVM space. StarkNet uses Cairo as its native coding language, but the team is developing a coding translator called the Cairo Transpiler. So, like zkSync, the rollup will end up being Solidity compatible instead of EVM compatible.

But the similarities end there. StarkNet uses another kind of cryptographic proof called STARK (“Scalable and Transparent Knowledge Argument”). ZK-STARK is theoretically more secure than ZK-SNARK, but takes longer to verify, occupies more block space, and requires more gas. StarkWare is the driving force behind the development of STARK-based technology.

A permissioned version of StarkNet was launched on the Ethereum mainnet in February 2022. The StarkWare team also announced Recently, StarkNet will have its own governance and utility token. There are no official figures for expected throughput at StarkNet’s full capacity, but StarkWare To tell The rollup could reduce Ethereum gas prices by a factor of 100-200.

Polygon zkEVM

Polygon is an Ethereum scaling solution with a flexible framework that allows developers to build Layer 2 infrastructures such as Optimistic Rollups and ZK-Rollups to connect to the Ethereum network. August 2021, Polygon got ZK-Rollup project Hermez Network for $250 million.Office announced A year later, I’m working on my own ZK-Rollup, Polygon Hermez, which works in tandem with the Proof-of-Stake Matic chain. Last month, Polygon announced the rebranding of Polygon Hermez. Polygon zkEVM We plan to migrate to the mainnet in early 2023.

Polygon claims its zkEVM can process up to 2,000 transactions per second, reducing transaction costs by 90%. The project code is open source. A public testnet will be available soon.

sauce: polygon

In contrast to zkSync and StarkNet, Polygon’s ZK-Rollup does not intend to limit itself by being compatible only with the Ethereum coding language, it is compatible with EVM itself. Polygon zkEVM clones the EVM instead of mirroring it. This means that builders will have to adapt their code and tooling frameworks to rollup, albeit to a lesser degree than zkSync and StarkNet.

In parallel with the ZK-EVM project, Polygon is also developing an Optimistic Rollup (Polygon Nightfall), a STARK-based ZK-Rollup (Polygon Miden), and a speed-optimized EVM-compatible ZK-Rollup called Polygon Zero.


Scroll is the ZK-Rollup for optimal integration with EVM. A relatively new project, Scroll can be considered a true EVM equivalent. The only meaningful difference between the two is the runtime environment, the subsystem in which contracts execute. However, high configurability comes at the cost of considerable computational overhead, which indicates that Scroll’s performance can be inferior to that of zkSync, StarkNet, and Polygon.

The Scroll team has yet to announce details of the project, but on July 18th called Developers must register to try out the Scroll testnet, scheduled for Q3 2022. The Scroll team is working with the Ethereum Foundation to develop the project. The website claims security, transparency, and EVM equivalence are top priorities.

Other ZK Rollups

Other groups researching ZK-Rollups include the Ethereum Foundation’s Privacy and Scaling Research Team and the yet-to-be-named Initiative Belongs to Consensys. Research contributes to existing projects and does not necessarily lead to new projects, but recent breakthroughs in zero-knowledge proof technology could lead to multiple his ZK rollups in the Ethereum ecosystem. I have. The Ethereum network still has a long way to go when it comes to scaling, but the rise of the new zkEVM project should benefit both developers and users as more solutions are presented for different use cases. is.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this work owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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