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With the race between Ethereum Layer-2 solutions heating up, Matter Labs has announced the rebranding of its highly anticipated ZK roll-up platform, zkSync 2.0, and the opening of the mainnet for developers.
The opening of the mainnet will allow developers to test decentralized applications in a controlled environment before the eventual public launch.
Matter Labs Rebrands zkEVM
Matter Labs has announced the rebranding of its hugely anticipated zkSync 2.0 as the protocol enters the final development phase of the solution before opening it up to end users. With the rebranding, Matter Labs has distinguished distinct versions of its scaling solution. The legacy zkSync 1.0 has been rebranded to zkSync Lite, and zkSync 2.0 has been rebranded to zkSync Era. zkSync Era will allow decentralized applications (dApps) compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Alex Gluchowski, CEO of Matter Labs, stated,
“People were expecting zkEVMs to arrive five years from now, but here we are, and it’s actually fully working.”
He further added that zkSync Era has over 200 projects ready to deploy.
zkSync Lite had seen a muted response when compared to other Layer-2 solutions in the market thanks to the lack of smart contract support, which left it with limited, minimal utility. Matter Labs has called the current phase the “fair Onboarding Alpha Stage” and has stated that it would be the final stage before zkSync Era becomes fully available to all projects on the Ethereum mainnet.
A Completely Open-Source Era
The mainnet will be closed to end users during the Onboarding Alpha Stage. This is to enable various projects to deploy and seamlessly test their applications in a secure and closed environment, Matter Labs explained in a blog post. Furthermore, the zkSync Era will be completely open-source, although Matter Labs has advised against forking the code at the moment, as there could be security issues and updates that could require addressing. Anthony Rose, head of engineering at Matter Labs, stated that the Alpha Stage could last between four and six weeks.
Rose also did not anticipate a prover standard to emerge once zkSync Era is launched. However, they stated,
“You could imagine a world in which there are the standard network effects — perhaps ~1-2 main players, space for a handful of smaller players — and it isn’t a given that a single prover is required for this scenario. That being said, there are obvious benefits from standardization, and our plans for Hyperchains are possible due to (in part) some functionality that is possible when you share a proof system.”
Matter Labs describes Hyperchains as layer-3 blockchains that the team believes can enable limitless scaling and customization.
A Closer Look At zkEVMs
zkEVMs, such as zkSync Era, are a new generation of Ethereum layer-2 solutions that enable users to conduct faster and significantly less expensive transactions on Ethereum. These Layer-2 roll-ups bundle user transactions together before sending them back to the primary Ethereum blockchain, where they are settled and validated. zkSync Era, like other upcoming zkEVMs, uses zero-knowledge proofs. However, unlike previous zk-rollup solutions, newer zkEVMs, such as zkSync Era, can be compatible with any existing Ethereum application.
So far, Matter Labs has successfully raised over $200 million to create its zkEVM platform. The protocol believes that in the long term, zero knowledge cryptography offers a more secure and efficient alternative to the “optimistic” mechanism that powers other roll-ups such as Optimism and Arbitrum.
There has been intense competition brewing between roll-up technology solutions in the zkEVM space. The Matter Labs announcement comes barely a day after layer-2 scaling giant Polygon announced 27th March 2023 as the official launch date of its zkEVM solution. Polygon has not specified what features will be included in the zkEVM beta once it launches on Ethereum. However, the launch would make Polygon’s zkEVM the first zkEVM to launch in the open market.
The development marks a huge milestone in developing zk-rollup solutions with teams from various protocols such as Scroll, Taiko, and Polygon inch closer to a fully accessible zkEVM. Sam Martin, an analyst with Blockworks, noted that while Polygon’s zkEVM has been classified as a type-3 zkEVM, zkSync Era has been classified as a type-4 zkEVM. Martin explained that this was because zkSync Era uses a high-level smart contract code written in Solidity and compiles it into a zk-SNARK-friendly language.
Additionally, Matter Labs has yet to announce when its network would launch in full, stressing that the launch decision would factor in security considerations and how the network would perform when opened to developers. However, Gluchowski called the Fair Onboarding stage a landmark achievement for the Ethereum ecosystem, stating,
“It’s more than just a milestone. It’s the first time in history that projects can actually deploy on a ZK roll-up on Ethereum.”
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.