The Race to Scale Ethereum With zkEVM Rollups

Key Takeaways

  • zkSync, StarkNet, Polygon zkEVM, and Scroll are a number of the prime ZK-Rollup initiatives constructing with EVM-compatibility in thoughts.
  • Every mission is tackling the questions of throughput, cryptographic proofs, and ranges of EVM-compatibility in its personal manner.
  • ZK-Rollups are anticipated to turn into one in all Ethereum’s most essential scaling weapons over time forward.

As Ethereum units its sights on mass adoption, ZK-Rollup know-how has emerged as a robust contender for scaling the blockchain, reducing transaction prices, and bettering throughput. Crypto Briefing breaks down 4 main ZK-Rollups suitable with the Ethereum Digital Machine which can be at present underneath improvement, every of which guarantees numerous benefits inside the Ethereum ecosystem.

Tackling Ethereum’s Transaction Charges

Ethereum is dealing with scaling challenges.

Maybe the only largest barrier to widespread Ethereum adoption is the excessive value of utilizing the community, which has turn into an existential problem for the blockchain. The rise of DeFi protocols and NFTs has elevated the demand for block area on Ethereum. Most transactions value a number of cents in 2019, however throughout the peak of the 2021 bull run, actions like minting NFTs on the blockchain would usually are available in at a whole bunch of {dollars}. Because of this, many retail market contributors discovered they have been priced out of the community and turned to different networks like Solana, Avalanche, or Binance Sensible Chain. At present, regardless of a downturn in community exercise as a result of market situations, easy transactions akin to ETH transfers value between $2 and $3, effectively above Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s very best purpose of lower than $0.05 per transaction. 

Rollups supply a technique to relieve congestion on the Ethereum blockchain. That’s as a result of they outsource knowledge off-chain, course of it, and ship transactions again to Ethereum fairly than counting on the bottom chain to course of every transaction’s computational knowledge. With rollups, Ethereum solely has to confirm the proofs themselves and never everything of the information, which frees up block area. Rollups additionally enable transactions to be bundled collectively, which permits customers to separate gasoline charges.

Zero-Data Rollups, often known as ZK-Rollups, use cryptographic proofs known as ZK-SNARKS (“zero data succinct arguments of data”) to indicate to Ethereum mainnet {that a} transaction was processed. These zero-knowledge proofs will be verified rapidly despite the fact that the underlying knowledge would take a very long time to investigate. 

Some ZK-Rollup initiatives at present underneath improvement have introduced their intention to be suitable with the Ethereum Digital Machine, providing Ethereum builders a technique to import their good contracts to the rollup with out modifying them. However as Buterin defined in a latest weblog put up, not all zkEVM initiatives are structured the identical manner: some optimize for full EVM composability, and others for speedy throughput.


Developed by Matter Labs, zkSync is without doubt one of the most anticipated zkEVM initiatives. Boasting 2,000 transactions per second, a 10-minute processing time between the rollup and Ethereum mainnet, and no higher certain restrict to the worth the rollup can securely deal with, zkSync is a number one mission within the area of zkEVMs.

Regardless of its advertising, zkSync isn’t technically suitable with the EVM, however fairly with Solidity and Vyper, two coding languages used on Ethereum. The distinction, whereas small for customers, is essential for builders: amongst different issues, contract addresses could differ, handwritten EVM code might not be supported, and debugging infrastructure could not essentially be carried over. 

The rollup is at present stay on Ethereum’s testnet. The mainnet launch is anticipated to occur in three steps: “Child Alpha” in November, throughout which the system will likely be put by way of real-money stress checks with no exterior initiatives concerned; the Truthful Launch, which is able to welcome all Ethereum ecosystem initiatives however preserve consumer entry restricted; and the Full Alpha, anticipated earlier than the yr’s finish. A zkSync token is anticipated, although particulars haven’t but been introduced.


StarkWare’s StarkNet is one other main contender within the zkEVM area. Whereas StarkNet makes use of Cairo as its native coding language, a crew is creating a coding translator known as Cairo transpiler, which means that, similar to zkSync, the rollup will finally be Solidity-compatible fairly than EVM-compatible.

But the similarities finish there. StarkNet makes use of a unique type of cryptographic proof known as STARKs (“scalable clear arguments of data”). ZK-STARKs are theoretically safer than ZK-SNARKs however take longer to confirm, take up extra block area, and require extra gasoline. StarkWare is the principle driving pressure behind STARK-based know-how improvement.

A permissioned model of StarkNet went stay on Ethereum mainnet in February 2022. The StarkWare crew additionally introduced just lately that StarkNet can have its personal governance and utility token. Whereas there aren’t any official figures on StarkNet’s anticipated throughput at full capability, StarkWare says the rollup may cut back gasoline charges on Ethereum by an element of 100 to 200. 

Polygon zkEVM

Polygon is an Ethereum scaling answer with a versatile framework that enables builders to construct and join Layer 2 infrastructure akin to Optimistic Rollups and ZK-Rollups to the Ethereum community. In August 2021, Polygon acquired the ZK-Rollup mission Hermez Community for $250 million; the agency introduced a yr later that it was working by itself ZK-Rollup, Polygon Hermez, which might work alongside its Proof-of-Stake Matic chain. Final month, Polygon introduced that Polygon Hermez had rebranded to Polygon zkEVM and would head to mainnet in early 2023. 

Polygon claims that its zkEVM will be capable to deal with as much as 2,000 transactions per second and cut back transaction prices by 90%. The mission’s code has been made open-source; a public testnet is anticipated quickly.

Supply: Polygon

Opposite to zkSync or StarkNet, Polygon’s ZK-Rollup doesn’t intend to restrict itself by being suitable solely with Ethereum coding languages, however with the EVM itself. Polygon zkEVM replicates the EVM fairly than mirroring it. This suggests that builders should still have to adapt code and tooling frameworks to the rollup, although to a lesser extent than on zkSync and StarkNet. 

Alongside its ZK-EVM mission, Polygon can also be creating an Optimistic Rollup (Polygon Dusk), a STARK-based ZK-Rollup (Polygon Miden), and a speed-optimized EVM-compatible ZK-Rollup known as Polygon Zero. 


The ZK-Rollup aiming for the perfect integration with the EVM is Scroll. A comparatively new mission, Scroll will be thought of really EVM-equivalent; the one significant distinction between the 2 is the runtime atmosphere, which means the subsystem through which contracts are executed. Nevertheless, the excessive composability comes on the worth of a big computational overhead, which signifies Scroll’s efficiency may very well be weaker than that of zkSync, StarkNet, and Polygon. 

The Scroll crew has but to launch particulars concerning the mission, however on July 18, it known as on builders to register to strive the Scroll testnet, which is anticipated in Q3 2022. The Scroll crew is creating the mission in collaboration with the Ethereum Basis. The web site claims that safety, transparency, and EVM-equivalence are its prime priorities.

Extra ZK-Rollups

Different teams researching ZK-Rollups embody the Ethereum Basis’s Privateness and Scaling Explorations crew and an as-of-yet unnamed initiative affiliated with ConsenSys. Although analysis could contribute to current initiatives and never essentially result in new ones, the latest breakthroughs in zero-knowledge proof know-how could give rise to a number of ZK-Rollups within the Ethereum ecosystem. Although the Ethereum community nonetheless has a protracted highway forward in terms of scaling, the rise of latest zkEVM initiatives ought to profit builders and customers alike as they’re introduced with extra options catering to completely different use circumstances. 

Disclosure: On the time of writing, the writer of this piece owned ETH and several other different cryptocurrencies. 

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