Polygon is already a giant in web3 and shows no sign of slowing down. Their suite of rollups, protocols, and infrastructure is expanding and numbers-wise, they have processed over 2 billion transactions since inception. Their aim — make Ethereum transactions quicker and cheaper.
In this pursuit, zero-knowledge (ZK) tech plays an important role. Zk-based rollups emerged to be a credible way to solve scalability but it hit a roadblock i.e. existing Ethereum smart contracts couldn’t be directly deployed onto zk-rollups without modifications. This compatibility gap was a major headache.
This led to the emergence of Polygon zkEVM, an environment that replicates Ethereum on Polygon and uses zk-proofs to validate transactions.
But what is Polygon zkEVM? And what is the Polygon 2.0 that is making the noise all over the crypto community? More importantly, how can you build on it?
In this blog post, we’ll explain what Polygon zkEVM and Polygon 2.0 are, how they work, and how they improve Ethereum.
What is Polygon zkEVM?
Polygon zkEVM works by integrating ZKPs into the Ethereum virtual machine (EVM) environment on Polygon. These ZKPs are used with zk-rollups to allow for a large number of transactions to be processed off-chain, then bundled together and verified in a single batch on-chain.
This method drastically increases throughput. Similarly, since the transactions are processed off-chain and a single proof is published — the gas costs are super low.
By maintaining compatibility with the EVM, Polygon zkEVM ensures that developers can deploy Ethereum-based applications on this scaled environment without needing to rewrite or adjust their code. In essence, it offers the speed of zk-rollups while keeping the familiarity and functionality of the EVM.
Benefits for developers
- Reduced gas fees: Since fewer data are being stored on-chain and many transactions are processed off-chain, the gas fees associated are drastically low.
- Higher throughput: With the batching technique, more transactions can be processed simultaneously, enabling dApps to handle more users and operations without congestion.
- EVM compatibility: Developers familiar with Ethereum's environment can seamlessly transition to Polygon zkEVM without the need to learn new tools or redesign their dApps.
- Enhanced security: The integration of ZKPs ensures that, even with off-chain computations, the integrity and security of transactions remain uncompromised.
Considering the growing crypto space, Polygon isn't stopping at zkEVM. They have already made their next move i.e. Polygon 2.0 — the value layer of the internet. The next section will delve deeper into this.
Introducing Polygon 2.0
Polygon 2.0 is a futuristic framework designed by Polygon to further supercharge Ethereum scaling. It introduces a network of ZK-powered Layer 2 chains that are interconnected via a cross-chain coordination protocol. For users, this makes the entire network feel as seamless as using a single chain.
- Unified experience: Despite comprising multiple chains, for users, the whole network feels like a single cohesive chain.
- Infinite scalability: With its architecture, Polygon 2.0 can support an almost limitless number of chains and facilitate instant, secure cross-chain interactions.
- Value layer concept: It's envisioned as the Value Layer of the Internet, an elastically scalable environment to access value, expanding Ethereum's initial promise.
Polygon 2.0's structure is organized into four primary protocol layers, each serving a specific purpose:
- Staking layer: This is a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) layer that uses MATIC, Polygon’s native token to decentralize the participating chains.
- Interop layer: Facilitates seamless cross-chain communication, making the entire network feel unified.
This provides shared access to native Ethereum assets and supports near-instant, atomic cross-chain transactions. It abstracts the complexities of cross-chain communication, improving user experience.
- Execution layer: Enables the production of sequenced batches of transactions, similar to how most blockchains operate.
This layer ensures efficient and reliable transaction sequencing, providing a backbone for the network's operation.
- Proving layer: A high-performance, flexible zero-knowledge (ZK) proving protocol that verifies all transactions for every chain in the network.
This layer enables different ZK state machines and ensures safe cross-chain communication.
To realize this vision, Polygon PoS will merge with zkEVM technology, transitioning into a zkEVM validium. Now, the next section gives you a brief overview of validiums, how it works, and more importantly, how it differentiates itself from zkEVM rollups.
Validium — the key to scaling Polygon 2.0
Polygon zkEVM validium is an advanced L2 scaling solution on Polygon. It integrates zk-rollups, which employ ZKPs to compress multiple transactions, with validium’s off-chain data storage mechanism.
This fusion provides Ethereum compatibility while enhancing its scalability, ensuring both high throughput and data availability without clogging the main chain.
How does it work?
- Data availability: Instead of using on-chain storage, zkEVM validium stores transaction data off-chain, ensuring data is available without congesting the Ethereum mainnet.
- ZK-rollup: Utilizes zero-knowledge proofs to aggregate numerous transactions into one, reducing on-chain footprints and gas fees.
- Validiums: Validiums work in tandem with zk-rollups by ensuring the transaction data remains verifiable and accessible for users, despite being stored off-chain.
Now, how is this different from a zkEVM rollup?
Polygon zkEVM rollup vs Polygon 2.0 validium
While both validiums and rollups use validity proofs to verify transactions, the key difference lies in how they approach data availability. This impacts their security, reliability, and functionality.
These differences are substantial enough for each approach to have its own set of applications and use cases.
Polygon zkEVM rollups are best suited for high-value transactions and applications where the security of funds and data is of utmost importance.
For example, major DeFi platforms or institutional-grade applications.
On the other hand, Validiums optimize for scale and cost. Due to their high scalability and reduced transaction fees, they are more suitable for Web3 gaming platforms, or social dApps.
However, the best thing is that thirdweb can help developers build on both Polygon zkEVM rollups and validium.
Thirdweb’s extensive library consists of many smart contract templates that can be deployed by developers directly to their Polygon-specific dapps. Furthermore, thirdweb also offers several UI elements and tooling to build a seamless interface for any dapp being built on Polygon.
Final thoughts: What do Polygon’s efforts mean to the Ethereum scalability race?
Both the networks, Polygon PoS and Polygon zkEVM, will coexist, each catering to different applications with different needs.
zkEVM, focused on security, is more suited for high-value applications like DeFi. Polygon PoS, emphasizing scalability and lower fees, is optimal for high-transaction-volume applications such as gaming and social media.
Polygon's efforts are a step in the positive direction for Ethereum. They are alleviating Ethereum’s burden by enhancing its scalability and overall efficiency. And with their overarching vision of being the ‘value layer of the internet’, Polygon is also fostering a diverse range of applications through continuous innovation.
We hope this blog helped you better understand Polygon zkEVM rollup and 2.0 validium efforts, how they work, and how they compare.
If you have any questions, reach out to the team directly for more information on how to get started.
To start building on Polygon zkEVM: you can deploy any pre-built, customizable smart contract from thirdweb’s library of smart contracts — battle-tested and customized for the specific network. Simply find the contract you need and start building: