EVM chains will be able to become layers-2 in the Ethereum ecosystem that are powered by zero-knowledge proof thanks to a recently created zkEVM prover.
Ethereum scaling mechanism Zero-knowledge proof (ZK-proofs) layer-2 functionality can now be unlocked by ecosystem chains such as optimistic rollups thanks to a new type 1 prover developed by Polygon.
Following the announcement that participants in the Ethereum ecosystem will have access to Polygon’s next-generation Polygon zkEVM type-1 prover as open source, according to Brendan Farmer, co-founder of Polygon.
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According to Farmer, the technology took a year to develop and was made possible by Toposware. It allows ZK-proofs for mainnet Ethereum blocks to be generated at an average cost of $0.002-$0.003 per transaction. The Type 1 prover will be made available on GitHub and is licensed under both Apache 2.0 and MIT.
A type 1 prover can be thought of as a zkEVM’s ultimate form. Any current chain, such as the Ethereum layer 1, an optimistic rollup, or an alternative L1, can be upgraded into zkEVM L2, which can connect to Ethereum and Polygon’s aggregation layer securely and take part in the Polygon ecosystem, according to Farmer.
According to Farmer, there have been previous suggestions from industry participants that a layer-1 prover is impractical and would be prohibitively expensive. Since then, though, the group has been able to deliver both cost and efficiency.
“We’re proving real mainnet Ethereum blocks at an average cost of 2 to 3 tenths of a cent per transaction. I think that that’s orders of magnitude lower than what people were expecting.”
Interesting ramifications of the development exist for the larger Ethereum ecosystem. According to Farmer, the technology enables the creation of ZK-proofs for every chain of Ethereum virtual machines (EVMs).
The co-founder of Polygon continues, “By eliminating the requirement for users and services to maintain a full node, the technology serves as a public good for the Ethereum ecosystem.”
Imagine a scenario where we actually produce proofs for Ethereum L1, and you could verify a zero-knowledge proof in your browser rather than needing to run a whole node. Thus, you can obtain complete assurances regarding node security without having to manage the inconvenience and stress of running a node, according to Farmer.
In its announcement, Polygon describes the zkEVM framework that was first put forth by Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of Ethereum. These are ranked from 1 to 4, which indicates how compatible they are with Ethereum and its EVM.
As a prover with “the highest level of compatibility with Ethereum,” a type 1 prover enables the creation of proofs for EVM chains that have migrations or modifications. These proofs maintain hash functions and storage structures, two examples of execution logic.
Optimistic rollups, a popular Ethereum L2 protocol that bundles transactions off-chain and submits proofs to the mainnet, will also be able to benefit from the type 1 prover thanks to this technology. A frequently mentioned disadvantage of optimistic rollups is the seven-day lockup period for funds.
Since the Polygon ecosystem offers a far better user experience, we observe a lot of hopeful rollups opting to use this prover. According to Farmer, the total cost of what users pay to use third-party bridges in order to get around the seven-day withdrawal delay is enormous—it’sin the eight figures.
“Being able to avoid that and to provide a more capital-efficient solution for users is a huge advantage.”
In response to a query about Polygon’s decision to release the technology as open source, Farmer stated that it was consistent with Ethereum’s “ethos” to make the technology accessible to a larger ecosystem.
In our opinion, you should consider a person’s actions rather than their words when determining whether or not they support Ethereum. We believe that this is a significant public benefit that ought to be freely accessible to all,” Farmer stated.
In December 2023, in an interview with Jordi Baylina, co-founder of Polygon, who described the layer-2’s objective of combining its technology and scaling networks to finish its “Polygon 2.0” cross-chain coordination protocol by 2024.
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