zkEVM explained: The Scalability Breakthrough for Ethereum

By David Idowu
8 Min Read

Lately, blockchain enthusiasts have been pushing heavily for mass adoption of the innovation. However, the present state of blockchain is struggling to provide technical support for applications that have attained a high level of mass adoption. Indeed without a doubt, scalability remains a huge headache for blockchains developers and experts. However, zkEVM is posing to become the answer to this point of concern.

The zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine is designed to end the scalability issues on the Ethereum network. zkEVM is a rollup that’s structured to replicate the Ethereum experience on Layer-2 solutions while maintaining the stature of being a roll-up. According to Vitalik Buterin, there are four types of zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machines.

While we’ve seen various blockchain solutions such as rollups and sidechains trying to keep up their promise of providing due scalability for blockchains. zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine though less prominent has been the unsung hero of solving scalability issues on the Ethereum network.

At the height of the crypto boom in 2021 to early 2022, we saw users of the Ethereum network endure congestion and high gas fees while participating in widely publicized events like ICOs, NFTs, Yeild Farm, and many more. For instance, during the Yuga Labs’ Otherdeeds NFT minting, the huge traffic on the Ethereum network spiked gas fees while crashing the blockchain.

Defining zkEVM

Mainly, the zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) is a virtual machine that carries out smart contract transactions in conformity with the Ethereum architecture and zero-knowledge-proof computations. Further, the innovation can be described as a rollup with the focus of replicating the Ethereum experience on Layer-2 solutions while maintaining the stature of being a roll-up.

With zkEVM, developers are permitted to keep their codes and EVM tools when migrating smart contracts to more scalable solutions that help protect the decentralization and safety of Layer-1 networks. Simply, zkEVM is an upgrade to ZK-rollups as it abides by the operational methods of ZK-rollups, though in an advanced way.

zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine is efficient for the swift processing of transactions without affecting the security of the network. Also, the solution charge users low fees, ending the nightmare of network congestion and high gas fees.

Meanwhile, aside from zkEVM, Ethereum’s ERC-4337 standard is also gaining momentum in the crypto space, read this article to see how Ethereum users can add two-factor authentication to their wallets, schedule blockchain transactions, and have a recovery option for their private keys.

Types of zkEVM

However, there are various types of zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine, and while they tend to solve the same problem, these solutions employ different approaches. Worth mentioning that the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin has divided zKEVM into four types.

Type-1 zkEVM

zkEVM under this category is designed to be equivalent to Ethereum as it maintains its hash code, transaction trees, and other features within the network. Simply, this zkEVM is totally compatible with every Ethereum-based solution. Since there are no upgrades done to achieve a swift generation of proofs, this zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine require more prover time.

Image via: Polygon

Type-2 zkEVM

This type of zkEVM is a bit different from its aforementioned counterpart because it is equivalent to EVM, not Ethereum. Though from the outside, they look like Ethereum, however, the alterations done in generating proof swiftly made them differ from Ethereum on the inside.

Another difference between Type-2 and Type-1 is their compatibility with Ethereum solutions as the former is only compatible with a few applications. A major setback against this group is their slower prover time.

Type-3 zkEVM

This type of zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine champions the seamless placement of a system similar to EVM within ZK-rollups, therefore, making them not totally equivalent to EVM. The Type-3 zkEVM uses alterations to ensure that development is much easier while enhancing the process of proof generation.

Regarding its compatibility with Ethereum applications, in some cases, there is a need for rewriting to make this type of zkEVM compatible. Nevertheless, it the compatible with most Ethereum applications.

Type-4 zkEVM

This variety of zkEVM is not directly equivalent to the EVM, instead, it is relative to high computing languages alone. Due to that, zkEVM under this category is selective with the kind of Ethereum solution it is compatible with. It eliminate the process of providing zero-knowledge proofs for every stage of EVM execution, thus, reducing the timeframe of generating proof. With that, this rollup save costs, and encourage decentralization.


Cheap Transaction Fee

Zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine requires the publication of the final state changes on-chain, their usage of zero-knowledge proofs confirms the validity of all transactions within the batch. Employing this method, zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine has proven to be effective in providing the cheapest on-chain charges.

Swift Finality

Finality refers to the final stage in the processing of on-chain transactions where these transactions cannot be manipulated, stopped, or recalled. In that regard, zero-knowledge rollups are swiftly completed once they are published on the underlying layer-1 network, therefore aiding swift finality.

Security-enhanced Scalability

Sine zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine doesn’t operate by Ethereum consensus regulations, every layer-2 transaction on zkEVM is confirmed on the underlying layer-1 via validity proofs. With this, zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine can focus on swiftness and throughput while upholding the security of the network.

Parting words

Indeed, zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine is growing in reputation in the crypto space due to the attention it has received of late. Top blockchain firms like Polygon, ConsenSys, ZkSync, Scroll, and Taiko have joined the race of inventing reliable zkEVM to scale Ethereum. These solutions have attempted to place themselves as a better option above their counterparts. However, the larger Ethereum community is bound to find a lasting solution to the scalability issues battling the network as the battle in the zkEVM space gets tougher.

David Idowu is a crypto reporter and trader with wealthy years of experience. He believes that blockchain technology has numerous opportunities that are begging for proper utilization. Away from work, David is either reading about World Politics, History or Tech Innovations.