A new Ethereum test net has been built – and it’s years ahead of schedule

A zkEVM test network may change the landscape of Ethereum scaling in the near future, as it will be the first of its kind.

Why Ethereum users tolerate such high gas costs
ZK rollups move forward in a big way

Yesterday, zkSync, a protocol responsible for creating Ethereum scaling platforms, announced the test network release of an Ethereum Virtual Machine compliant Zero-Knowledge rollup (zkEVM) years ahead of schedule.

The EVM is the environment in which all Ethereum wallets and contracts exist, and it is in charge of creating the chain’s rules from block to block. The new test network is the first ZK rollup capable of operating the whole Ethereum ecosystem, and it will give valuable data on how capable zero-knowledge technology is at scaling blockchains.

Over the last several years, Ethereum rollups have adopted two distinct approaches to growing the basic layer, which has been labeled Optimistic and Zero-Knowledge. Both methods have found some use, with Arbitrum being the most noteworthy Optimistic chain and DyDx utilizing ZK technology for their leveraged trading application. ZK rollups, like DyDx, have traditionally concentrated on providing a single type of application per chain since the entire Ethereum ecosystem that provides configurable smart contracts would be too computationally intensive.

Until now, trade-offs favored Arbitrum and Optimism; today, zkSync has a chance to level the playing field. On mainnet, optimistic rollups may now provide a single, composable environment in which customers can employ applications ranging from NFT markets such as OpenSea to lending protocols such as Aave. zkEVM would provide a comparable end-user experience, with lower transaction costs and near-instant finality, eliminating the requirement for the two-week withdrawal periods associated with Optimistic rollups.

ZK roll-ups are more computationally demanding and place a load on nodes attempting to solve zero-knowledge validity proofs, but they may publish network state to Ethereum for a fraction of the cost of even Optimistic Rollups. According to L2Fees.Info, zkSync and Loopring presently provide transaction costs that are 1/200th of the pricing on mainnet. Trade on a decentralized exchange would cost users on Ethereum’s base layer slightly over $90 at the time of writing, while Loopring and zkSync users would pay between $0.45 and $0.68.

Ethereum Gets an Upgraded Scaling Testnet
Ethereum Gets an Upgraded Scaling Testnet

If zkEVM can give fees comparable to previous ZK rollups, Ethereum’s scalability concerns may be resolved sooner than predicted. Ethereum native apps will be able to migrate over Solidity-based contracts with ease and offer a broad variety of goods in a low-fee environment guaranteed by Ethereum’s security. While reducing transaction costs are an important part of scaling blockchains, they are only important if the chain can host apps that generate user demand. Theoretically, zkEVM will be able to host the industry’s favored apps while maintaining liquidity, decentralization, and product offering.

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