On July 20, 2022, Polygon Network (MATIC), an ecosystem of Ethereum (ETH) scaling solutions, unveiled zkEVM, the latest addition to its solution stack. The new product is the first open source zk-rollup natively interoperable with EVM.
In this guide, we’ll cover the features of the new release and the opportunities it opens up for scaling Ethereum (ETH) and advancing Web3 as a whole.
Polygon Network releases zkEVM: why is it crucial for crypto?
zkEVM (an abbreviation for “zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine”) is a second-layer scalability protocol on top of Ethereum (ETH). This means that it is designed to make operations of Ethereum (ETH) dApps faster and cheaper without compromising its decentralization and security.
Despite the fact that second-layer solutions have been helping Ethereum (ETH) scale since 2018, zkEVM is launching to change the narrative in L2s.
- zkEVM supports Ethereum (ETH) smart contracts without modifications, no need to modify code before moving from L1 to L2;
- zkEVM integrates all Ethereum (ETH) opcodes; every instrument of the “original” Ethereum (ETH) can therefore be implemented in zkEVM;
- Using on-chain data saves users up to 90% on charges;
- zkEVM has been open source and MIT-licensed since day one: every Web3 team can experience zkEVM and audit it;
- Advanced Zero-Knowledge Techniques: Recursive STARKS ensure extreme scalability while zkSNARKS are integrated for cost optimization.
With the introduction of zkEVM, Polygon Network (MATIC) has cemented itself as the most productive and forward-thinking team in the Ethereum L2 ecosystem.
What are Layer 2 (L2) solutions – and why does Ethereum (ETH) need them?
Layer 2 solutions (also second layer, or L2 solutions) are blockchain protocols built on top of the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet. As Ethereum (ETH) itself has low bandwidth – it can only process 15 transactions per second – it becomes too slow and inefficient for modern decentralized applications.
As such, the developers set out to create systems designed to reduce “transaction pressure” on the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet. Simply put, they partially process the calculations off-chain and then stream the results to Ethereum. Layer 1 Ethereum (ETH), in turn, verifies these results and includes them in new blocks.
Since the creation of the first Ethereum (ETH) L2 solution, Rayden Network (RDN), which used payment channels similar to Bitcoin’s Lightning, a number of teams have released their own version of scaling designs. . In 2022, rollups have proven to be the most impressive technique in terms of resource efficiency, speed and reduced transaction costs.
What are zk-rollups and zk-proofs?
Zero-knowledge rollups, or zk-rollups, should be considered a class of second-layer solutions designed to advance the throughput of the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet. Zk-rollups bundle (roll up) multiple Ethereum (ETH) transactions into batches before posting only minimal data to the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet.
Technically, a zk-rollup chain is an off-chain protocol that operates outside of the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet but takes advantage of on-chain Ethereum (ETH) smart contracts. This smart contract deconstructs and verifies all “bundled” transfers in a single L2 transaction.
Zk-proof is another crucial concept of the L2 architecture. In this case, “zero-knowledge” means that these cryptographic proofs allow both parties (L1 and L2) to prove the correctness of a “statement” without revealing the statement itself. Zk aggregates use proofs to verify the correctness of off-chain state transitions without the need to re-execute transactions on the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet.
What is a polygonal network (MATIC)?
Polygon Network (MATIC) launched as Matic Network in October 2017. The project is led by Ethereum (ETH) veterans Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, Anurag Arjun, and Mihailo Bjelic. Initially, it was introduced as a plasma-based L2 on top of the Ethereum (ETH) network. Plasma is a class of proof-of-stake solutions for scaling Ethereum (ETH); Much like rollups, its mechanisms periodically send portions of transactions to Ethereum (ETH) in a compressed form.
In 2019, Polygon (then Matic Network) raised $5.6 million in its ICO. A year later, the project decided to migrate from Ethereum (ETH) to its own blockchain – technically, the Ethereum (ETH) sidechain. In 2021, the project was renamed Polygon Network and introduced a complete ecosystem of L2 solutions for Ethereum.
Currently, its stack includes Polygon Proof-of-Stake, a blockchain that handles MATIC transactions and integrates Polygon-based dApps, and Polygon Supernets, purpose-built sub-blockchains. Additionally, Polygon Nightfall’s privacy-focused stack is in mainnet beta. Finally, its ecosystem of rollups – Avail, Zero, Miden and, more recently, zkEVM – is under development.
zkEVM by Polygon Network: Ethereum (ETH) scaling, reconsidered
zkEVM is a new rollup design developed by Polygon Network (MATIC) engineers. It is set to radically streamline the developer experience for dApps focused on using Ethereum’s L2s as a technical foundation.
Introduced on July 20, 2022, zkEVM is the latest addition to the Polygon Network (MATIC) L2 scalability stack. zkEVM bills itself as the very first EVM-enabled ZK-based rollup. The project is 360° open source: since its very first days, every Ethereum (ETH) enthusiast can use, audit and fork its codebase.
Polygon Network’s zkEVM focuses on Ethereum-level security and decentralization, dramatically increasing throughput, performance, and resource efficiency. zkEVM leverages Plonky2, an advanced scaling technology based on zk. Plonky2 makes very light proofs and facilitates recursive verification of SNARKS (“Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge”). This allows users to check proofs at 100 times reduced speed.
Besides improving proof generation times, zkEVM creates opportunities for incredibly cheap transactions; each dApp on zkEVM is much more profitable than its Ethereum-based competitors.
Seamless migration from Ethereum (ETH)
But the most impressive “secret sauce” of the new product is its 100% compatibility with Ethereum (ETH). Developers can literally use the same instruments they used when building on-chain applications for the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet.
Developers can run Ethereum’s smart contract on zkEVM without changing a single line of code. All Ethereum (ETH) tools can be seamlessly integrated into zkEVM-based dApps: the new product will support all Ethereum (ETH) opcodes. Thus, the proven security of Ethereum (ETH) will be inherited by a new product:
EVM equivalence means that any smart contract or developer tool you can use on Ethereum can be used on Polygon #zkEVM. It’s like using Ethereum, but with the revolutionary scaling power of ZK technology.
Unparalleled resource efficiency
In addition to EVM equivalence, zkEVM takes advantage of the forced censorship resistance architecture and advocates a decentralized design by default. Polygon zkEVM uses an extensible EVM processor with a new zk assembly language to stay at the forefront of Web3 innovation.
Technically, Polygon zkEVM is powered by the fastest zk-proof design of Polygon Zero (formerly Mir Protocol) in Web3. zkEVM’s zkSNARK uses the minimum possible resources of Ethereum’s L1 for more efficient calculations.
After the official announcement of the release of Polygon zkEVM in July 2022 and the creation of its open source code base, engineers at Polygon Network (MATIC) are preparing for their public testnet release.
As such, a public testnet may be live as early as Q3 2022. Mainnet release of the game-changing protocol is tentatively scheduled for early 2023.
At the end of the line
Polygon Network, a leading ecosystem of Ethereum L2 scaling instruments, has unveiled its zkEVM deployment. Polygon zkEVM is configured to be “EVM equivalent” as it supports all Ethereum (ETH) smart contracts and development instruments.
In addition to EVM equivalence, Polygon zkEVM combines extremely low fees and near-zero latency with the proven security of the Ethereum (ETH) mainnet.