After four years of development, Ethereum’s Layer 2 scaling network, zkSync Era, has been opened to users in alpha, enabling faster and cheaper transactions. Between 32 and 50 projects, including some of the biggest names in decentralized finance such as Uniswap, Sushi, Maker, and Curve, will launch on March 24 or over the weekend.
ZkSync Era is the first Ethereum Virtual Machine compatible zk-Rollup to launch on the mainnet, allowing most Ethereum DApps to simply roll over with very few changes. The network can provide “orders of magnitude” of scale greater than Ethereum’s current 10 to 12 transactions per second (TPS), offering “tens of TPS” initially and scaling as demand requires.
The project released its “fair onboarding alpha” on February 17, allowing projects to port and test security and optimizations. Matter Labs, the team behind zkSync Era, said it spent $3.8 million on security testing, seven independent security audits, and a bug bounty program to reduce the risk of any incident.
The Zk-Rollups, which include zkSync, Scroll, and solutions from Polygon, StarkWare, and Consensys, calculate transactions off the Ethereum blockchain and provide a small cryptographic proof that is written as a single transaction on Ethereum showing that a packet of other transactions has been successful. ZkSync also employs recursion, which generates a test showing that a batch of other tests (each representing many transactions) have been carried out.
Zk-Rollups can allow virtually instant withdrawals, giving them an advantage over optimistic rollup layer 2s like Optimism, where withdrawals take a week. However, zkSync Era will initially impose a 24-hour waiting period as a security measure.
ZkSync Era has also enabled native account abstraction, which means that every account in the network is a “smart account” that can use two-factor authentication (2FA), social recovery, automatic payment transactions and more through providers. smart contract wallet like Argent.
The network will not be fully decentralized at launch, so the team can implement quick fixes for any technical or security issues. However, a time block will be implemented later so that the Security Council and the community can approve the decisions. Like its competitor StarkWare, zkSync relies on a centralized sequencer and tester, which are faster, but provide a centralized point of failure.
Running a tester requires the purchase of expensive hardware or renting cloud capacity at $10,000 per month, making decentralizing that aspect of the network tricky. A new test system that substantially reduces hardware requirements is already in development and should be available on the mainnet this year.
Overall, zkSync Era represents a significant step forward for Ethereum, which has been dealing with scaling issues for years. Launching the network on the mainnet has the potential to significantly lower gas fees and enable faster and more efficient transactions, benefiting not only DeFi projects but other Ethereum-based applications as well.