Ethereum scaling tool Polygon made a huge announcement during the Ethereum community conference (EthCC) held in Paris, announcing the launch of Polygon zkEVM. The company described the launch as a significant leap forward in zero-knowledge (ZK) technology.
Polygon’s new zkEVM will feature Ethereum’s security while significantly increasing throughput and reducing fees.
The First “Ethereum Equivalent Scaling Solution”
Polygon issued a press release to elaborate on the launch, calling zkEVM the first Ethereum equivalent scaling solution, capable of seamlessly working with existing smart contracts, developer tools, and wallets. Ethereum can currently process around 15 transactions per second, far lower than rival blockchains such as Solana and Tezos. The blockchain also features significantly high gas fees, making it stiflingly expensive for developers and users.
A Critical Cog In The Ethereum Network
Rollups like the recently announced Polygon zkEVM are crucial, allowing the Ethereum community to increase the network’s capacity and enabling users to complete transactions quickly without compromising the integrity of the network and its security guarantees. There are primarily two types of rollups, Optimistic and zero-knowledge. Zero-knowledge is considered superior but is significantly complex to implement, which means the quicker-to-market Optimistic rollups have overtaken it.
The Problem With ZK Rollups
ZK rollups are powered by circuits or code that can prove the validity of a statement by looking at a bite-sized encrypted version of it. This allows a significant number of layer-2 transactions to be bunched up and sent to a layer-1 chain. Instead of looking at individual transactions, the ZK circuit looks at a tiny chunk of encoded data and confirms if transactions are valid or spoofed.
“Generally, until now, it was only possible or feasible to build these use case-specific circuits. For example, a payment [platform], or NFT (non-fungible token) swaps – all these small individual things.”
Nailwal believes that because of this, Current ZK-rollups are restricted to the kind of smart contracts they provide for.
The concept of a ZK rollup that could accommodate any Ethereum smart contract was considered to be years away. This sentiment was echoed by Sandeep Nailwal, co-founder of Polygon, who stated,
“Everybody thought [a zkEVM] was at least 12 to 18 months away. But here we are, and we are open sourcing the code and making the test net live.”
Polygon has stated that the mainnet launch is expected to take place sometime in early 2023.
“A zkEVM is a generic circuit on Ethereum. That means you … can write custom smart contracts the same way you can write them on Ethereum – anything and everything that you want to [program].”
This simply means that developers can move any Ethereum smart contract into Polygon zkEVM without requiring any changes to the code. According to Nailwal, Polygon zkEVM will cut transaction fees by almost 90% when compared with Ethereum. He also stated that the network would be able to support around 50 transactions per second, compared to Ethereum’s 15.
A Marked Improvement Over Current Options
The Polygon co-founder believes that zkEVMs will be a marked improvement over Optimistic rollups such as Optimism and Arbitrum. However, Polygon zkEVMs will continue to have one major shortcoming with other rollups: a centralized sequencer. This means it utilizes a single party to bundle and order the layer-2 transactions sent to the layer-1 blockchain. However, Polygon has revealed that it is working on decentralizing this element of its process.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.