Comprehensively compare the four major L2 protocols of the zk series: progress, similarities and differences, and ecology

Recently, with the launch of zkSync 2.0, the zk system expansion solution has ushered in another wave of climax. In addition, after last month’s Devcon in Bogotá, there are many “new” voices in the zkEVM space.

For example, zkSync touted itself as “the world’s first fully functional open source zkEVM network,” and people including Steven Goldfeder, co-founder and CEO of Arbitrum development company OffChain Labs, criticized that the zkEVM testnet did not have zk-proofs enabled and was not security audited, a hype that would benefit no one and was far from being realized.

Polygon zkEVM also claimed to be “the first and only decentralized zkEVM testnet” when it was officially launched during Devcon in Bogotá, but it quickly attracted community criticism: the source code of Polygon zkEVM prover is available on Github, but there is no open source license; Although it is “perfectly equivalent”, its Github codebase shows that it has only measured 97% compatibility coverage for the time being. In response, the Polygon team responded, “No attempt to conceal that some of the content is being written for better documentation.”

In addition, Scroll announced a Pre-Alpha testnet upgrade during Devcon in Bogotá and opened it up to whitelisted users for testing. According to the plan, StarkWare launched an upgraded version of Cairo 1.0 at the end of September and will be officially launched before the end of the year.

Spurred by the Aptos airdrop, the L2 zk series’ recent strong narrative has indeed attracted a large number of users. However, compared with the OP system expansion scheme whose ecology has been relatively mature, the ZK system seems to be very lively on the surface, but it is still a long time away from the real prosperity, the current ecology is still relatively weak, and the development cycle of ZK technology is longer, which has a certain threshold for developers and project parties. So, instead of arguing about the “first zkEVM”, it is better to continue building.

This article combs the development progress and ecological details of the four major protocols of the zk series: StarkWare, zkSync, Polygon zkEVM and Scroll, taking you to fully understand the real situation of the zkEVM track that is currently hot.


1. Introduction:

StarkWare is the strongest team in the zk series expansion plan, co-founder Eli Ben-Sasson is the world’s top cryptography scientist, as well as the co-inventor of zkSNARK and zkSTARK, co-founder and CEO Uri Kolodny graduated from the Hebrew University of Computer Science and is also a serial entrepreneur. StarkWare is currently valued at $8 billion.

StarkWare currently develops two products: StarkEx for ToB and StarkNet for ToC. StarkEx is an independent licensed Validity-Rollup (proof of effectiveness), selling custom technology engine services StarkEx, which directly charges service fees to customers with expansion needs, and has served dYdX, ImmutableX, Sorare, DeversiFi,, ApeX, Myria, etc. StarkNet is a permissionless, decentralized zk-Rollup open to everyone that uses a zkSTARK attestation system and supports dApp autonomous deployment.

The underlying smart contract language used by StarkNet is not Solidity, but Cairo, a Turing-complete zero-knowledge proof system language, which is not itself compatible with EVM. The team has been looking for zkEVM compatibility, and at the end of October, StarkWare announced the launch of a ckEVM (called “Kakarot”) based on Cairo, but the actual development is still in the early stages and has not yet landed.

In addition, Ethereum development team Nethermind is building a Solidity-Cairo “compiler” that allows projects written in Solidity to translate their codebase into Cairo “with one click.” The “compiler” is still under development and, once in effect, will enable StarkNet to achieve a similar level of EVM compatibility to zkSync 2.0. Nethermind has been working on code translation and previously launched the Uniswap Warp version on the StarkNet network.

2. Progress:

As one of the earliest developers in the zk-Rollup space, the alpha version of StarkNet launched on mainnet in November 2021.

StarkWare launched an upgraded version of Cairo, Cairo 1.0, in late September and is expected to be officially available by the end of 2022, with a new version of the language that improves network DoS attack protection and reduces gas fees, supports StarkNet’s permissionless network requirements, and will simplify and protect protocols. At that time, the team will also restart StarkNet on the Ethereum mainnet called “Regensis”.

StarkNet is currently launching a second testnet on Goerli and is calling for named proposals in the community. The new testnet is primarily intended for developers and is intended to test applications, not during the beta phase.

In addition, StarkWare announced tokenomics in July, and the native token was previously scheduled to be released in September, but the team delayed the issuance due to technical reasons. The initial issuance of StarkNet tokens is 10 billion, with 17% distributed to StarkWare investors, 32.9% to core contributors, and 51% to the Foundation (of which 12% is used to fund research and work to develop, test, deploy, and maintain the StarkNet protocol). However, officials said that users will not be provided with free tokens in the initial stage, and all tokens will be locked immediately after release.

3. Ecology:

The StarkNet ecosystem is mainly based on DeFi, GameFi, and NFT, and more than 100 projects have been deployed on StarkNet, but in fact, some projects are still in the planning and deployment stage, and the number of projects that can truly interact is not much. According to L2beat data, StarkNet currently has a total lockup of $3.1 million, an average daily TPS of 0.15, and a 30-day transaction count of about 279,000.

Wallets: Argent X, Braavos (recently completed a $10 million funding round led by Pantera Capital)

Cross-chain bridge: Orbiter Finance, the officially developed Ethereum-Starknet cross-chain bridge StarkGate


  • 10KSwap: StarkNet native AMM DEX protocol, has been launched on the mainnet, currently only can trade ETH, USDC, DAI, WBTC, USDT and other tokens.
  • Alpha Road Finance: StarkNet native DEX and liquidity staking protocol, currently in beta.
  • Brine Finance: Order book trading DEX, which is still on the testnet.
  • Fibrous Finance: AMM aggregator on StarkNet, still running on the testnet.
  • mySwap: The first AMM DEX on StarkNet.
  • zkLend: A lending protocol on StarkNet with two products, Artemis (for DeFI users) and Apollo (for institutions, SMEs, etc.).
  • GameFi: Loot Realms, GoL2, and The Ninth are available on the mainnet.

II. zksync

1. Introduction:

Founded in December 2019 by Matter Labs later than StarkWare, zkSync uses zk-Rollup technology based on SNARK proof and supports zkEVM at the IR level.

Matter Labs released version zkSync v1.0 in June 2020 and went live for a long time until February this year, when the zkSync 2.0 testnet went live. zkSync 2.0 has greatly improved its functionality over previous ones. In zkSync 1.0, users can only experience basic functions such as transfer and minting NFTs, while zkSync 2.0 supports EVM compatibility while also opening the deployment of ecological applications, which is a truly completed version of zk-Rollup products.

2. Progress:

On October 28, zkSync 2.0 was officially launched, and said that it is currently in the Baby Alpha phase, during which zkSync 2.0 will be launched on the mainnet without external projects, mainly for stress testing and multiple security efforts. Developers do not have access to the mainnet, but can continue to develop on the testnet. The Baby Alpha phase will last about a month.

According to the official roadmap, the fourth quarter (after Baby Alpha) enters the Fair Launch Alpha phase, and the team will open up project deployment access to developers, and the team plans to achieve the full alpha launch goal by the end of this year, but may extend this phase until 2023 for security reasons. Then after a series of comprehensive tests, security audits, contests, and bug bounties, zkSync 2.0 will be available to all users, which is also the closest time to issuing coins. More than 150 projects have already been committed to launch on zkSync 2.0.

In terms of token issuance, Steve Newcomb, chief product officer of Matter Labs, said in a Twitter Spaces discussion that zkSync will publish details of its token economic model in the first week of November. On November 3, zkSync co-founder Alex G hinted: “Some big news is coming up.”

3. Ecology

According to the statistics of the zkSync ecological official website, more than 100 projects have been deployed on the network. According to L2beat data, the current total lockup volume is $6.27 million, the daily average TPS is 0.37, and the 30-day transaction count is 1.38 million.

Wallets: Argent X, zkSync Portal 2.0 (in zkSync 2.0, users can add RPC nodes for zkSync 2.0 directly in MetaMask without downloading additional wallets)

Cross-chain bridge:

  • Orbiter Finance (currently only supports zkSync 1.0, not yet zkSync 2.0 testnet)
  • zkSync2.0 testnet official cross-chain bridge address: (also supports wallet transfer and other functions such as receiving test coins)


  • SyncSwap: ZKSync-based DEX, available on the zkSync 2.0 network.
  • Increment: is a decentralized algorithmic perpetual contract protocol based on zkSync 2.0, recently released on the zkSync 2.0 testnet. However, it is currently only open to users who previously applied for the whitelist test, and now the registration deadline has passed.
  • SpaceFi: is a cross-chain web3 platform on Evmos and zkSync, currently running on the zkSync 2.0 testnet.
  • Zigzag: An order book DEX powered by zk Rollup, currently only supported on the zksync 1.0 network
  • Sprintcheckout: Crypto payment platform currently running on the zkSync 2.0 testnet.


MintSquare is an NFT marketplace on Ethereum L2 ZK Rollups (StarkNet and zkSync) and currently runs on StarkNet, StarkNet testnet, and zkSync 2.0 testnet.

In addition, protocols such as Aave V3, Uniswap V3, and 1KX Protocol Beta are already planned to be deployed on the zkSync 2.0 testnet.

Polygon Hermez (Polygon zkEVM)

1. Introduction:

In July 2021, the Hermez team announced the development of a fully Ethereum-compatible zkEVM (Hermez 2.0), after which Polygon announced the acquisition of Hermez for $250 million. Polygon zkEVM uses zk-Rollup technology based on SNARK proof.

Polygon zkEVM has opcode-level compatibility. In Vitalik: The Future of Different Types of ZK-EVMs, Vitalik ranked Polygon zkEVM as the third tier with Scroll, leading the current ZK Rollup in terms of EVM compatibility.

In recent hype, Polygon has been emphasizing that its zkEVM is “the only decentralized zk-rollup” because it first implements zk Prover’s open source, ZK proof system with complete, available source code, and promises a fully open source, community-driven, permissionless network of coordinators, decentralized auction models with verified reward tokens.

2. Progress:

Polygon zkEVM launched a permissionless public testnet on October 10, with Aave, Uniswap, Web3 social platform Lens and game studio Midnight Society becoming the first protocols to be deployed on the zkEVM testnet, which is currently open primarily to developers. Polygon zkEVM is scheduled to go live on the mainnet in the first half of 2023.

In addition, Polygon zkEVM made it clear that there is no coin issuance plan for the time being, and ETH will be used to pay gas fees. MATIC will be used for staking, governance of Polygon zkEVM.


1. Introduction:

Founded in 2021, Scroll closed a $30 million Series A funding round late last year. Similar to Polygon zkEVM, Scroll is also committed to creating an EVM equivalent zk-Rollup, and is better in compatibility, known as the most EVM-compatible zk-Rollup, so that applications on Ethereum can be migrated to Layer 2 networks almost seamlessly. Bytecode-level compatibility can achieve compatibility with all languages on Ethereum, and can also be compatible with tools on Ethereum, greatly reducing the difficulty of development on Layer 2 networks.

It is worth mentioning that since Scroll co-founder Ye Zhang has a lot of experience in ZKP hardware acceleration, Scroll plans to use hardware acceleration in ZKP to further improve verification efficiency, build a decentralized verification network, distribute ZKP proofs to participants for calculation, and aggregate the results to form a final proof. The decentralized verification network will be open to everyone, with incentives and penalties.

2. Progress:

On October 11, Scroll released an upgraded version of the Pre-Alpha testnet, which already has some pre-deployed applications such as Uniswap v2, allowing users to perform some functions such as transferring money between L1 and L2, but at this stage also requires users to register to apply to be whitelisted to participate in the test. However, due to the emergence of a large number of brushing robots, the official temporarily slowed down the review of the test application and tightened the list access, so there will be many users who have not received an email reply in the community feedback, and the community recommends changing the wallet address and email address to reapply.

Scroll experienced severe cross-chain delays during the testnet, as well as cases of testnet tokens not being able to access taps, and the official response was caused by severe congestion on Ethereum.

In addition, officials say that a permissionless testnet will be launched in a few weeks, and that the alpha testnet allows anyone to interact on the testnet, and developers can deploy contracts on the network without permission. The full testnet is expected to be available by the end of this year.

Ecologically, projects such as the Web3 social protocol Lens Protocol and the oracle RedStone have recently been deployed to the pre-alpha testnet of the Ethereum scaling project Scroll.

brief summary

In general, although StarkWare and zkSync indicate that zkEVM will eventually be achieved, they are not compatible at the bytecode level after all, requiring developers to translate and migrate code, so Polygon zkEVM and Scroll will be closer to the Ethereum ecosystem in comparison.

However, EVM compatibility is not the only criterion for judging the quality of L2 expansion solutions, but only as an objective indicator. In fact, a fully equivalent EVM, while safe, may come at the expense of efficiency, and Starkware’s Cario predicts that VMs built with Zksync will be more flexible in building zk.

Therefore, these protocols are not inherently superior or inferior, and they are still in the early development stage, in addition to ensuring security, the later developer experience and user experience are more important.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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