On February 8, Polygon Labs unveiled its latest innovation – a zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) Type 1 prover. This new component allows any network that is Ethereum EVM compatible to launch its own Layer-2 network powered by zero-knowledge proofs.
Thus, any blockchain network would be able to easily connect with Polygon’s broader ecosystem using the aggregation layer and without the need to fork the network. This encompasses projects such as Manta, Canto, and Celo. Additionally, Polygon’s zkEVM prover will offer compatibility with Type 2 zkEVMs at a reduced cost.
Introduced in January, Polygon’s aggregation layer presents an alternative to prevailing scaling narratives, such as monolithic and modular blockchains. It focuses on centralizing scaling efforts around its unified AggLayer, a protocol aimed at offering cross-chain user experience.
The Polygon team hailed the release as a significant achievement and a technological milestone. Even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has praised this development as crucial for making auxiliary layer-2 networks almost as powerful as the base blockchain.
Importance of Type 1 Rover
A Type 1 prover signifies the highest level of compatibility with the Ethereum blockchain, requiring no alterations to any aspect of Ethereum for proof generation. This encompasses hash functionality, storage structure, or any consensus logic.
Brendan Farmer, co-founder of Polygon, explains that Type 1 zkEVMs entail performance trade-offs in proof generation, necessitating more computation. However, they ultimately enhance the scalability of Ethereum’s layer-1 itself. He added:
“Delivering a performant Type 1 zkEVM was seen as impractical and cost-prohibitive. Polygon has again demonstrated that it leads the industry in the development of ZK technology by delivering a Type 1 zkEVM that is insanely efficient.”
The Polygon team has dedicated over 16 months to developing the proving system – Plonky2. By year-end, they anticipate releasing Plonky3, promising significant performance enhancements.
The new Type 1 zkEVM prover is entirely open source while featuring a dual license under MIT and Apache 2.0. Both licenses entail minimal restrictions, although users making substantial code modifications must indicate the changes.
Building Robust zkEVM Architecture
The Polygon blockchain is not the first to introduce this architectural concept. Last August, Risc Zero unveiled its “Type 0” zkEVM, known as Zeth, which introduced a versatile programming language akin to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Unlike Type 1 zkEVMs, Type 0 zkEVMs are engineered to enable developers to tailor and adjust their zero-knowledge stack aligning with various networks, such as zkSolana. However, according to Farmer, this versatility may come with slightly higher costs.
Farmer anticipates that in the upcoming weeks, the performance of Polygon’s zkEVM prover will enhance by approximately 35%, rendering it roughly 50 times more cost-effective compared to its counterparts.
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