Matter Labs Schedules zkSync 2.0 Mainnet Launch for October

As Ethereum scaling competition heats up, Matter Labs says it will bring the first EVM-compatible ZK rollup to market.

AccessTimeIconJul 20, 2022 at 3:47 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:57 p.m. UTC
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Matter Labs, the company behind the zero-knowledge rollup zkSync, on Wednesday said it plans to launch zkSync 2.0 to Ethereum’s mainnet in 100 days.

With the announcement came the release of a full zkSync roadmap and other details about the project’s upcoming milestones.

zkSync 2.0, a so-called zkEVM, is a kind of Ethereum scaling solution – a “zero knowledge rollup” – that aims to decrease Ethereum’s high fees and increase the network’s transaction capacity. In comparison to so-called Optimistic rollups, Zero Knowledge rollups like zkSync are considered superior, albeit far more complex for engineers to implement.

zkSync is among the companies that have already employed Zero Knowledge technology for a handful of more restricted use cases like token swaps and non-fungible token (NFT) transfers. But no general ZK Rollup – one which can handle any Ethereum smart contract – exists yet on Ethereum.

With its announcement, Matter Labs insists that it will be the first team to bring a fully EVM-compatible zero knowledge rollup to market – a zkEVM. In other words, the team says it will be the first to introduce a rollup that can handle any Ethereum smart contract, meaning developers will be able to build atop zkSync just as they would Ethereum’s clunkier main network.

“We've been pretty quiet for the entire existence of the company and the product [because] we've been doing a lot of R&D work, and R&D work is unpredictable,” Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski told CoinDesk.

“We're on the cutting edge of innovation in the ZK space.” he continued. “There were a lot of challenges and we didn't want to commit to something that we can't deliver. But now we are changing this and going out with the public roadmap. The challenges are really solved, to the degree where we are very, very confident that we're going to hit the next milestones.”

What is a zkEVM?

The zkEVM technology will mark a paradigm shift in the Ethereum scaling landscape, but until recently it was still thought to be several years away.

In general, rollups work by allowing users to transact on a separate, layer 2 network that exists separate from a (generally) slower, more expensive layer 1, or base, blockchain. Transactions on the layer 2 network get bundled up and passed down to layer 1, where they are officially settled.

Because the Ethereum rollup transactions are “settled” on the main blockchain network, they share its essential security guarantees

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin explained it best in a blog post: “Rollups move computation (and state storage) off-chain, but keep some data per transaction on-chain. To improve efficiency, they use a whole host of fancy compression tricks to replace data with computation wherever possible.”

ZK rollups work using so-called ZK-SNARKS – a type of cryptographic tool, or “proof,” that allows a person to confirm a statement by only looking at a bite-sized, encoded version of it. Zero Knowledge technology allows rollups to bundle up and shrink down large quantities of layer 2 transactions before passing them back down to layer 1.

A layer 1 network only needs to see a small, encrypted representation of ZK rollup transactions – not the transactions themselves – to check that they are legitimate.

The zkEVM Landscape

Wednesday’s announcement from Matter Labs comes on the heels of two others from Scroll and Polygon – both of which are working to launch their own version of a zkEVM at some point in the near future.

Gluchowski thinks that Polygon, which announced Wednesday that it would be the “first” zkEVM to market, was underestimating the amount of time that it will take to move from testing to the real world.

“I know how long it took us from the concept to the first testnet, and from there through multiple iterations. You build this system, you learn a lot about it and it gets a lot more complex than previous versions,” Gluchowski said.

According to Gluchowski, Matter Labs, which launched its zkEVM test net back in February, has a head start.

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Sam Kessler

Sam is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for tech and protocols. He reports on decentralized technology, infrastructure and governance. He owns ETH and BTC.


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