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Ethereum gets first of its kind zkEVM test network

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on Feb 25, 2022
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  • The new test network is the first integration of a ZK rollup that can run the full Ethereum environment
  • Optimistic rollups come with two-week withdrawal periods, and zkEVM would do away with this need
  • zkSync’s transaction fees are a fraction of the fees on Ethereum Mainnet

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The test network release of an EVM-compatible Zero-Knowledge rollup (zkEVM) took place years ahead of schedule. The achievement is attributed to zkSync, a protocol that implements Ethereum (ETH/USD) scaling platforms, CoinDesk reported.

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EVM defines the rules of the blockchain from block to block. The new test network is the first integration of a ZK rollup that can run the full Ethereum environment. It reflects zero-knowledge technology’s astounding aptitude at scaling blockchains.

Optimistic vs. zero-knowledge

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Ethereum rollups scale the base layer in two ways: Optimistic or Zero-Knowledge. The best-known Optimistic chain is Arbitrum. On its part, DyDx has leveraged ZK technology for trading applications.

Historically, ZK rollups have focused on a single type of application per blockchain because smart contract customization would be too costly in terms of computing resources.

zkSync leveling playing field

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So far, Arbitrum and Optimism have been favored. zkSync is beginning to level the playing field, however. At the moment, Optimistic Rollups offer a single, composable environment, in which you can use apps such as Aave (AAVE/USD) lending protocols, OpenSea and other NFT marketplaces, and more.

No more two-week withdrawal periods

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Optimistic rollups come with two-week withdrawal periods, and zkEVM would do away with this need. It ensures almost immediate finality, lower transaction fees, and other extras. At the same time, the end experience for users is similar to that associated with Optimistic rollups.

A fraction of the cost

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ZK rollups use more computational resources, placing a burden on nodes attempting to solve zero-knowledge validity proofs. However, the network state is a fraction of the cost of Optimistic rollups. At the moment, Loopring (LRC/USD) and zkSync’s transaction fees are 1/200th of the price on Ethereum Mainnet.

Mitigating Ethereum scaling issues

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It will be possible to mitigate scaling issues earlier than anticipated if zkEVM emerges capable of offering fees similar to other ZK rollups. Blockchain scaling is difficult to achieve with high transaction fees, but the fees only matter if the chain can host applications, which drive user demand.

In theory, zkEVM will be able to host the most popular applications without sacrificing quality, liquidity, or decentralization.  

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