Understanding zkSync from Scratch
zkSync is one of the scaling solutions for Ethereum, utilizing zero-knowledge (zk) proofs. But why is this needed? What does zero-knowledge proof mean? What will users gain if zkSync achieves its goals? Let's take a look from the beginning.
Ethereum's scaling problem
As you can see in the table above, Ethereum is constantly congested. The space in a block isn't enough for users, leading them to pay high gas fees to transact. You wouldn't want to pay around $20 for a simple swap, right? Not very user-friendly. If the transaction is more complex, the gas you pay increases even more.
This situation stems from the fundamental supply-demand balance in Ethereum. As the chart below shows, the amount of gas changes according to demand at different times, and we have to pay these amounts if we want to transact on Ethereum.
So, what's stopping us? If the block is too small, let's increase its size, or if it takes too long to mine a block, let's speed it up.
This brings us to Scalability.
Scalability simply means increasing throughput without increasing node load. Understanding this is important because if we enlarge the block too much, we need much more hardware, which leads to centralization, or if we increase the block production speed, we need a higher internet speed and leave those with slow internet out of the game, which again leads to centralization. I'm not going into why decentralization is important here, but you can check it out from here.
Zero-knowledge proofs(zkp) and their benefits
zkRollup, which is live on the mainnet, provides significant benefits for blockchain scalability and privacy. It requires a one-time setup and audit, and if a validity proof fails, a simple retry is often enough. Exits take about 15 minutes, enhancing user experience by providing quick access to funds. Privacy is easy and cheap to achieve, making zkRollup an attractive option for those seeking transaction confidentiality.
Let's Talk About zkSync
Let's break down zkSync into subcategories for a better understanding of the concept. These are scalability, security, decentralization, usability, and interoperability.
Scaling: The data from L2Beat below doesn't show high TPS right now. However, they mention that once they iron out some wrinkles in their zero-knowledge part and the network faces the expected congestion, they can exceed +3000 TPS. They even say that with their bridges named ‘zkPorter’, they can go over +20,000 TPS, but these are not yet realized in reality. We will see how it works as it develops.
Security: zkSync ensures Layer-1 level security without third-party reliance, using cryptographic proofs to verify transaction integrity without revealing underlying data. As for tokens, there is currently no token on the network, but when there is, no entity on the network will have access to the token. They are also conducting audit tests within the scope of their bug bounty program.
Decentralization: We can't say the network is decentralized right now. There is neither a governance token that manages the network nor a decentralized sequencer. However, as one of the founding partners Alex Gluchowski, has mentioned several times, zkSync's mission is to decentralize the network, and they will take the necessary steps in the future. On the other hand, we can say that the code is open-source and everyone on the network can see them.
from Alex’s “L2 scalability and zkSync” speech during Edcon 2020
Usability: The platform is user-friendly, offering features like instant confirmations, low transaction fees, and a straightforward exit mechanism to the Ethereum mainnet.
Interoperability: zkSync maintains compatibility with existing Ethereum infrastructure and smart contracts, ensuring seamless operation with other systems and wallets in the broader blockchain ecosystem.
With all this, we've essentially explained zkSync at its core. As you can see, the network is still unfinished in many respects, and many developments are still ongoing. Various dApps have already taken their place on it. Different aspects are discussed in various podcasts, blogs, and videos.
If you want to get more information about these topics and stay up-to-date by following the ecosystem through a single window, you can check out our zkSync dashboard.