Welcome to our comprehensive article on zkSync and the beginner’s guide to the zkSync ecosystem, a layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum that utilizes zero-knowledge rollup technology.
Whether you’re new to the world of Ethereum or seeking to understand the zkSync ecosystem, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to zkSync’s features, benefits, and its unique position in the Ethereum scalability sector.
Let’s dive in and uncover the possibilities of zkSync together.
Ethereum’s scalability solutions have become a fiercely competitive sector in the crypto industry.
Notably, layer 2 projects such as Arbitrum and Optimism have gained significant market share.
However, the rise of zero-knowledge (ZK) technology for Ethereum scaling solutions has brought forth a race to implement and adapt ZK tech within the Ethereum ecosystem.
Among the projects seeking to create an EVM-compatible zero-knowledge solution for Ethereum is zkSync.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the zkSync Era and its unique features in comparison to other ZK-based projects.
zkSync: A Layer-2 Scaling Solution
zkSync is a layer-2 (L2) scaling solution for Ethereum that leverages zero-knowledge rollup (ZK-rollup) technology.
By utilizing ZK-rollup, zkSync achieves faster and more cost-effective transactions while ensuring the security of the Ethereum network.
The zkSync ecosystem is developed by Matter Labs, who initially launched zkSync 1.0 in June 2020.
However, zkSync 1.0 lacked support for smart contracts.
To address this limitation, Matter Labs launched zkSync 2.0 in late 2022, with a full mainnet release planned for 2023.
zkSync Era and zkEVM
In February 2023, Matter Labs rebranded its products, renaming zkSync 2.0 to zkSync Era and zkSync 1.0 to zkSync Lite.
This rebranding coincided with the zkSync Era Fair Onboarding Alpha, providing an opportunity for projects and developers to test the network.
Notably, zkSync Era’s focus shifted toward creating zkEVM, an EVM-compatible ZK technology.
This article primarily focuses on zkSync Era due to its emphasis on zkEVM.
Matter Labs, founded by Alex Vlasov and Alex Gluchowski, was among the early pioneers in developing a prototype for a ZK-based Ethereum scaling solution.
Their zkEVM is a virtual machine that supports zero-knowledge proof computation, making it inherently compatible with Ethereum’s EVM.
It serves as an implementation of ZK tech to scale Ethereum smart contracts.
Developers can write ZK-compatible smart contracts using traditional EVM Solidity language, making zkEVM highly accessible and versatile.
Experts recognize zkEVM as a groundbreaking Ethereum scaling solution, combining ZK-rollup capabilities with EVM compatibility.
zkSync Founders and Investment
The founders of Matter Labs, Alex Vlasov, and Alex Gluchowski, spearheaded the development of zkSync.
Since its inception, zkSync has secured substantial funding, with the latest being a $200 million Series C round led by Blockchain Capital and Dragonfly Capital.
The total financing raised by zkSync now amounts to $458 million, highlighting the industry’s recognition and support for the project.
Understanding zkSync’s Functionality
zkSync Era is built upon the foundation of ZK-rollup, which provides a layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum using zero-knowledge proofs.
Unlike optimistic rollups such as Arbitrum and Optimism, ZK-rollups offer more efficiency, consume less gas, and require less storage.
Moreover, zero-knowledge technology inherently protects users’ private information.
In zkSync Era, transactions are bundled into batches and verified by the Ethereum mainnet.
The Ethereum network only needs to verify a zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) as evidence of the entire batch’s validity.
Developing an efficient ZKP that does not demand excessive computational power is a significant challenge for ZK networks.
Consequently, extensive research and development are conducted before launching a ZK network’s mainnet.
Matter Labs ensures that the gas price and speed of zkSync Era are on par with or even surpass the current layer 2 solutions.
To achieve efficiency in ZKP generation, zkSync Era adopts the SNARK (Succinct Non-interactive Argument of Knowledge) method.
SNARK is known for its cost-effectiveness and lower storage requirements compared to its counterpart, STARK.
Additionally, SNARK has a more mature ecosystem, making it a preferred choice among developers.
One notable challenge in the implementation of ZK technology is its lack of compatibility with Ethereum’s framework and virtual machine (VM).
ZK-based smart contracts cannot directly utilize Ethereum’s EVM, and vice versa.
This limitation forces developers to choose between creating ZK-based applications or utilizing the existing Ethereum framework.
This is where zkEVM plays a crucial role in facilitating the growth and adoption of ZK tech.
zkEVM serves as a virtual machine that is fully compatible with Ethereum’s EVM and supports zero-knowledge proof calculations.
It was specifically designed to address the bottleneck faced by DApp developers in ZK-rollup networks.
As mentioned earlier, ZK-based smart contracts are incompatible with Ethereum’s framework and VM.
By utilizing zkEVM, developers can write ZK-based smart contracts using familiar Ethereum programming languages such as Solidity and Vyper.
Moreover, existing Ethereum DApps can migrate to the zkSync Era, bridging the gap between the ZK-based ecosystem and the Ethereum L1 network.
Although creating zkEVM is a complex task due to the integration of two inherently different systems, it offers a solution that combines the benefits of ZK-rollup and EVM compatibility.
Other Projects Developing zkEVM Solutions Apart from zkSync Era, several other projects are actively working on zkEVM layer 2 solutions.
These include Polygon, Scroll, STARKNet, and ConsenSys.
Each project aims to provide varying levels of compatibility with Ethereum’s EVM, allowing developers to choose the option that best suits their specific requirements.
Vitalik’s Four Types of zkEVM Compatibility
Vitalik’s Four Types of zkEVM Compatibility Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has categorized zkEVM into four types based on their compatibility with the EVM.
These types provide developers with different trade-offs between compatibility and proving time:
- Fully Ethereum-Equivalent: Offers full compatibility with all Ethereum DApps but may have slower proving times for zero-knowledge proofs.
- Fully EVM-Equivalent: Maintains compatibility with existing Ethereum DApps but introduces minor modifications that may result in slower proving times.
- EVM-Equivalent: Supports most Ethereum applications, although some may require rewriting. Offers faster proving times compared to Types 1 and 2.
- High-Level-Language Equivalent: Matches high-level languages like Solidity or Vyper and compiles them for zero-knowledge proofs. Provides the fastest proving times but requires rewriting of EVM-specific code.
zkSync Era falls into the category of type 4, utilizing an LLVM compiler for EVM languages like Solidity, Vyper, and Yul.
While prioritizing optimal performance, zkSync Era does require developers to invest time in rewriting their codes to ensure compatibility.
Unique Features of zkSync Era
- Native Account Abstraction: zkSync Era introduces native account abstraction, elevating traditional externally owned accounts (EOAs) such as MetaMask users to smart contract accounts (CAs). This innovation unlocks a myriad of possibilities, including eliminating seed phrases, batching multiple operations, and automating payments.
- Privacy and Speed of ZK-rollup: The foundation of zkSync lies in its ZK-rollup technology, which combines a privacy-preserving network with fast transaction processing. Users can enjoy the benefits of increased privacy while maintaining efficient transaction speeds.
- Ethereum-Level Security: As a ZK-rollup layer 2 solution, zkSync Era leverages the underlying security of the Ethereum network. By relying on Ethereum’s robust security measures, zkSync Era ensures protection against potential hacks and network-wide attacks. This provides users with a high level of confidence and trust in the platform’s security.
zkSync Era aims to provide a developer-friendly environment for building applications.
By supporting Ethereum’s native programming languages such as Solidity, developers can leverage their existing knowledge and skills to create smart contracts and DApps on zkSync Era.
This reduces the learning curve and enables seamless integration with the existing Ethereum ecosystem.
Community and Industry Support
zkSync has garnered significant attention and support from both the community and industry players.
With its successful funding rounds, including a $200 million Series C round led by Blockchain Capital and Dragonfly Capital, zkSync has secured substantial financial backing to fuel its development and growth.
The project’s growing ecosystem includes partnerships with prominent blockchain projects and collaborations with leading industry players, further solidifying zkSync’s position as a prominent player in the Ethereum scaling space.
Continuous Innovation and Upgrades
Matter Labs, the team behind zkSync, is committed to continuous innovation and improvement of their technology.
With the introduction of zkSync Era and zkEVM, they have demonstrated their dedication to pushing the boundaries of scalability and compatibility in the Ethereum ecosystem.
As the technology evolves, zkSync aims to remain at the forefront of the Ethereum scalability sector, adapting to the changing needs of developers and users.
zkSync is a layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum that utilizes zero-knowledge rollup technology.
With its focus on zkEVM, zkSync Era aims to create an EVM-compatible zero-knowledge solution that enables faster and more cost-effective transactions while maintaining the security of the Ethereum network.
By combining ZK-rollup capabilities with EVM compatibility, zkSync Era offers developers a powerful platform to build scalable and privacy-enhanced applications.
With strong community support, industry partnerships, and continuous innovation, zkSync is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of Ethereum’s scalability landscape.