As the race between Ethereum scaling platforms heats up, Matter Labs is rebranding zkSync 2.0, its much-hyped ZK rollup platform, as it embarks on a final phase of development before opening up to users.
Starting Thursday, project builders that pre-registered for the the newly-dubbed “zkSync Era” platform will be able deploy their apps onto the network for the first time. The Era chain will be closed to general users, but app developers will be allowed to test their code in preparation for a full launch sometime in the coming months.
“People were expecting zkEVMs to arrive five years from now, but here we are, and it’s actually fully working,” Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski told CoinDesk.
According to Gluchowski, zkSync Era has over “200 projects lined up” to deploy on its platform.
Matter Labs told CoinDesk that it is fully open-sourcing Era’s code, as long-promised, and is re-naming the legacy zkSync 1.0 platform to “zkSync Lite.”
So-called zero knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machines (zkEVMs) like zkSync Era represent a new breed of Ethereum rollup projects – layer 2 blockchains that allow users to transact on Ethereum with greater speeds and lower fees.
Layer 2 rollups like zkSync Era bundle user transactions and then pass them down to the layer 1 Ethereum blockchain, where they are “settled” using the main chain’s battle-tested security apparatus. Like other upcoming zkEVMs, zkSync Era uses zero-knoweldge proofs to power its systems under the hood. Unlike earlier ZK rollups (such as zkSync Lite, which could only handle certain kinds of applications), “zkEVMs” like zkSync Era should be able to support any existing Ethereum app.
Matter Labs has raised over $200 million so far to build out its zkEVM platform. Along with other zkEVM builders, Matter is betting that zero-knowledge cryptography will, in the long term, offer a more secure and efficient alternative to “optimistic” technology – the mechanism that powers quicker-to-market rollup incumbents like Arbitrum and Optimism.
The rollup race
Matter Labs’ announcement comes a day after a major competitor in the zkEVM space, the Ethereum scaling giant Polygon, locked in March 27 as its official launch date. A blog post from Polygon did not specify exactly what features its zkEVM “beta” will include when it deploys on Ethereum’s main network, but the team boasted that the March launch date would officially make Polygon zkEVM the first zkEVM to market.
Matter Labs would not say when its own network would launch in full, emphasizing that the decision will be “dictated by security considerations” and will depend on how the network performs after it opens up to developers.
“We put security above marketing hype,” Gluchowski told CoinDesk.
Gluchowski framed Matter Labs’ “Fair Onboarding” stage as a landmark achievement for the Ethereum ecosystem.
“It's more than just a milestone,” said Gluchowski. “It's the first time in history that projects can actually deploy on a ZK rollup on Ethereum.”
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