ConsenSys, Developer of Ethereum Software, Says zkEVM Public Testnet to Go Live March 28

Zero-knowledge, or ZK, a type of cryptography, is seen as one of the year's hottest blockchain technologies. ConsenSys launched a private zkEVM testnet in December but is now opening it up for anyone to join.

AccessTimeIconMar 3, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 27, 2023 at 7:33 p.m. UTC

ConsenSys, a top software firm working on the Ethereum blockchain, is rolling out a zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) public testnet on March 28, intensifying the race among top crypto firms to be first to go fully live with the fast-emerging technology.

The move for ConsenSys comes after the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based software firm in December launched its private beta zkEVM testnet. Since then, the private testnet has processed over 350,000 transactions.

Zero-knowledge (ZK) is a type of technology that uses cryptography to help increase the speed of transactions and to reduce gas fees on blockchains. Multiple companies are rushing to bring the innovation to the Ethereum ecosystem, seen by industry observers as likely to be one of this year's hottest blockchain trends.

The race for the first ZK rollup to go live has accelerated recently. Later this month, Polygon will go live with its mainnet beta zkEVM. Scroll and Matter Labs have also announced they're coming out with ZK rollups, but haven't set dates.

“It's not crowded enough,” said Nicolas Liochon, the head of R&D at ConsenSys and lead for the ZK Business Group. “We think that it's important to have multiple zkEVMs, and we want to be one of them.”

ZkEVMs are "virtual machines that can execute the same high-level programming languages or low-level bytecode as the Ethereum Virtual Machine, and prove this code using zero-knowledge proofs, cryptographic proofs that verify data without revealing any information about the data itself, such as properties or content," according to a November 2022 report on the topic from Galaxy Digital.

They're a type of ZK rollup that "mimics the same transaction execution environment as mainnet Ethereum," according to the report.

A ZK rollup is a "layer 2" atop the main blockchain designed to process transactions faster and then send the data back to the "layer 1." ZK rollups use “proofs'' to prove that a transaction is valid and was not tampered with, by only showing a small piece of data from that transaction.

ConsenSys has not set a date for when their zkEVM will move out of the testnet phase, but Liochon said it should happen by the end of 2023.


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Margaux Nijkerk

Margaux Nijkerk reports on the Ethereum protocol and L2s. A graduate of Johns Hopkins and Emory universities, she has a masters in International Affairs & Economics. She holds a small amount of ETH and other altcoins.