When it comes to scaling Ethereum, Polygon has taken an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach.
Although its logo might be a hexagonal shape, Polygon has seven distinct teams that work together to create a web of products.
Three of those teams, Hermez, Zero and Miden, have worked together to create zkEVM — a zero-knowledge proof-based rollup which achieves equivalence with the Ethereum virtual machine (EVM).
That means developers can easily deploy applications written in Solidity — Ethereum’s smart contract language — and take advantage of the ecosystem’s robust developer tools, just as they do on the Ethereum mainnet.
Wednesday’s move at the Ethereum Community Conference in Paris heralds the imminent launch a zkEVM testingnet. This was a goal set by Hermez at the same conference one year ago.
“It’s been a long journey — I can talk in personal terms — this has been the project of my life,” said Jordi Baylina, technical lead at Polygon Hermez, during the group’s #PolygonTuesdays weekly Twitter space, last week. “Scaling Ethereum, scaling blockchains, has been the dream since at least 2015 if not before.”
Rollups based on zero-knowledge proofs have several advantages over the optimistic rollups which are already up and running, such as Optimism and Arbitrum — the two largest by total value locked.
Zero-knowledge rollups combine many layer-2 transactions into one — which settle on Ethereum as a validity proof. Zero-knowledge rollups, while computationally complex, are faster and more scalable.
“It makes Ethereum almost technically or theoretically infinitely scalable,” Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal said during the Twitter space, adding that in contrast to other solutions, only Ethereum itself is needed. “It has network effects. It has developers. It has users, so you know we can take Web3 to the next stage of growth,” he said.
Other projects are working on EVM-compatible or EVM-equivalent zero-knowledge rollups, such as Scroll and Matter Lab’s zkSync, but Polygon has a significant funding edge thanks to its $450 million raise in February.
A closed testnet of Polygon’s zkEVM should be available within two weeks with a public permissionless testnet to follow a few weeks later, Polygon co-founder Mihailo Bjelic told Blockworks. The product is expected to reach the Ethereum mainnet by year’s end. Major Web3 applications like Uniswap will be deployed on zkEVM.
“A future configuration of off-chain data availability will be able to reduce the fees further,” Bjelic said.
Polygon Avail plans sovereign rollup chain
While zkEVM is “a proper old-school rollup,” Bjelic said, potentially significant efficiency gains are possible by using an off-chain data availability solution, such as Polygon Avail.
Avail is an entirely new blockchain focused on data availability that fits into a framework for scalability known as “modular” — as opposed to monolithic, such as Ethereum is today, where execution, data availability and settlement all occurs on the same layer.
Blockworks heard that 70% to 85% of the rollup cost can be attributed to the storage of Ethereum call information, according to Avail lead Anurag Ajun.
“That component can move to Avail,” he said.
Doing so would transform zkEVM into what’s known as a validium.
“Everyone is really looking for lower transaction fees, if the security can be maintained,” Arjun said. “You will see every rollup — at least in my opinion — will have a rollup version and a validium version.”
ZkEVM is a likely candidate for upgrading the existing Polygon proof-of-stake chain — the Ethereum-aligned sidechain using the MATIC token that was Polygon’s first foray into Ethereum scaling.
“That’s probably the end goal,” Bjelic said.
Polygon’s team is currently working on a method to move the entire proof of stake chain into a future version zkEVM. This would be without the need for dApp developers and users to do anything. This solution is about a year away.
“Polygon is a multichain ecosystem. We believe there will be probably thousands such chains built on top of Ethereum,” Nailwal said, stressing the open-source nature of all the company’s development efforts. “Cryptography must be open to be safe…Whatever we are building is for the public good and everything will be open source and will be in the public domain.”