• Ethereum scaling solutions have been developed to solve the blockchain’s lagging transaction speed without compromising its security and decentralization.
• Zero-knowledge (ZK) rollups have not been able to gain attention like their Optimistic counterparts due to the Total Value Locked (TVL) factor.
• However, zkEVMs seem ready to balance the Optimistic dominance with the layer-one (L1) projects as several new developments could change the course of the scaling race.
Ethereum Transaction Speed Issues
For most of 2022, several Ethereum [ETH] scaling solutions rose to the occasion to help out the blockchain’s lagging transaction speed. This happened without compromising its security and decentralization. And yet, it was for this reason that Optimistic roll-ups including Optimism [OP] and Arbitrum have been able to gain widespread adoption.
Zero Knowledge Rollups
Zero-knowledge (ZK) rollups have been part of the scaling solutions developed to solve the inherent scalability issue. Unfortunately, this group has not been able to gain attention like its Optimistic counterparts, despite the plethora of ZK Ethereum Virtual Machines (zkEVMs). For context, these zkEVMs help execute smart contract transactions in a compatible way with zk proofs existing on Ethereum infrastructure which leads to customizable off-chain and on-chain scaling.
Limitations of ZK Rollups
The Total Value Locked (TVL) factor is one limitation that has held back ZK rollup adoption compared to their optimistic counterparts. The TVL describes an amount of underlying supply secured completely by a protocol, and at press time none of these projects had matched up with either Arbitrum or Optimism in terms of TVL value. The biggest ZK rollup dYdX had only a TVL of $360 million – far below what is seen among other L2 applications on Ethereum.
Potential for Adoption
Bankless recently highlighted that there is potential for zkEVMs replicating their optimistic rollup 2022 performance due to increasing transaction speeds by 6500%. Additionally, stage 3 type 1 – 4 zkEVMs are now compatible with Ethereum applications and some such as Starknet & zkSync have already launched mainnets for further development and adoption opportunities.
Outlook for 2023
It remains unclear if ZK rollups will be able reach their potential in 2023 given current limitations around Total Value Locked metrics on these platforms compared with other L2 applications on Ethereum. However, new developments suggest they will be able replicate optimstic success in terms increasing transactions speeds significantly which could drive increased adoption going forward into 2023