What is zkSync and how it differs from other L2s?

Andrew Carr
| Editor:
May 28, 2024
6 min read

zkSync is a Layer-2 protocol that strives to address Ethereum's scalability challenges using state-of-the-art Zero-Knowledge (ZK) technology. It operates on top of the Ethereum blockchain, inheriting the robust security of the mainnet while significantly increasing transaction throughput. 

zkSync leverages zk-rollups, a method by which batches of transactions are processed and verified off-chain before being settled on the Ethereum mainnet. This enables the protocol to offer faster and more cost-effective transactions. 

Mission of zkSync

The mission of zkSync is twofold: to enhance Ethereum's transaction processing capacity while upholding the blockchain's fundamental principles such as freedom, self-sovereignty, and decentralization. The team behind zkSync envisions a future where blockchain technology is accessible and usable at scale, providing the same level of security that users expect from the Ethereum mainnet.

A notable feature that reflects zkSync's commitment to its values is the integration of the zkEVM, which allows for secure and trustless execution of EVM-compatible smart contracts with the added benefit of privacy. 

This technology also contributes to an impressive user experience, through native account abstraction, which simplifies interactions with the Ethereum network. The goal is to make blockchain and smart contract accounts operation more user-friendly, similar to conventional Web2 experiences, to encourage widespread adoption.

zk-rollups Explained

zk-rollups are a type of Layer 2 scaling solution that bundle (or "roll up") numerous transactions off the main Ethereum chain into a single transaction. The "zk" in zk-rollups stands for "zero-knowledge," a cryptographic method that allows one party to prove to another that a statement is true without revealing any information beyond the validity of the statement itself.

zkSync utilizes these zk-rollups to process transactions off-chain before settling the final state on the Ethereum blockchain. This is done by generating a cryptographic proof, known as a zero-knowledge proof, which is then verified by Ethereum's mainnet. This method not only increases throughput but also maintains the robust security guarantees of the Ethereum network.

Security and Scalability Features

zkSync's security model is one of its most compelling features. It derives its security directly from the Ethereum mainnet, leveraging the established and battle-tested security of the parent blockchain. This means that any attack or attempt to compromise zkSync would require overcoming the substantial security of Ethereum itself, a feat that is highly improbable.

In terms of scalability, zkSync introduces a significant reduction in transaction costs while increasing throughput. This is achieved through succinct zk proofs, specifically designed to minimize verification costs. These proofs ensure that the computational load on the Ethereum mainnet remains low, even as the number of transactions processed by zkSync grows.

Projects Built on zkSync

The zkSync ecosystem has garnered significant interest from a variety of projects, particularly those looking for scalable and secure solutions for decentralized applications. Over 200 projects from major players such as Chainlink, Uniswap, and Aave have expressed their intention to deploy on zkSync, leveraging its Ethereum and Zero-Knowledge (ZK) technology. This illustrates the platform's capability to attract a diverse range of initiatives, from DeFi protocols to interoperability solutions.

One notable integration is zkSync's implementation of zkEVM, which enables developers to seamlessly port smart contracts from the Ethereum mainnet, ensuring secure and private execution of EVM-compatible smart contracts. This feature has been pivotal in zkSync's adoption, as it simplifies the transition for projects already established on Ethereum.

zkSync's status as a Layer 2 scaling solution means it offers users the benefits of low gas costs and rapid transactions without sacrificing security. Platforms like Argent have chosen zkSync as their scaling solution for their Layer 2 wallet, further solidifying its position in the market.

zkSync Features and Benefits

zkSync, as a second-layer scaling solution for Ethereum, offers a suite of features and benefits designed to address the limitations of the main Ethereum blockchain, particularly around transaction speed and costs. Here, we explore two key aspects of zkSync that make it an attractive option for users and developers: account abstraction and scalability solutions.

Account Abstraction

zkSync introduces a novel concept called account abstraction which significantly enhances the user experience (UX) of interacting with Ethereum and smart contracts. This feature aims to make operations with smart contract accounts feel more like traditional Web2 experiences, which could be crucial for facilitating wider adoption of blockchain technology.

Account abstraction simplifies the transaction process by allowing for more flexible authentication methods. In traditional Ethereum transactions, a transaction must be signed by a private key. However, zkSync's account abstraction permits other methods, like contract-based accounts, which can enable multi-signature wallets, automated transfers, and other complex setups without requiring additional layers or tools.

With account abstraction, users can benefit from:

  • Simplified user onboarding processes
  • Enhanced security through customizable permissions and access controls
  • Streamlined interactions for decentralized applications (dApps)

Argent, a prominent Ethereum wallet, has chosen zkSync for their Layer 2 solution, recognizing the potential of account abstraction to improve the user experience significantly.

Scalability Solutions

zkSync offers infinite scalability through the use of succinct zero-knowledge proofs, specifically zk proofs, which result in minimal verification costs regardless of the number of transactions processed. This feature is a significant step towards reducing transaction fees and increasing performance without compromising security and decentralization.

zkSync's scalability is achieved using a cutting-edge proof system called Redshift, which ensures that gas costs are significantly reduced. This makes zkSync a cost-effective alternative to the Ethereum mainnet, providing cheaper and faster transactions with the same level of security and finality.


zkSync utilizes STARKs for additional scalability. STARKs (Scalable Transparent ARguments of Knowledge) are a cutting-edge cryptographic proof system that ensures both scalability and transparency in verifying computations. They prove the correctness of a computation without the need to redo it or trust the party that performed it, making them particularly valuable for blockchain and decentralized applications. 

A standout feature of STARKs is their scalability; they handle large computations efficiently, with proof sizes and verification times growing very slowly as the computation size increases. This is achieved through sophisticated mathematical techniques that enable quick proof generation even for complex tasks.

Transparency is another key advantage of STARKs. Unlike other proof systems, such as zk-SNARKs, which require a trusted setup, STARKs do not need any initial secret information, making them more secure and trustless. 

This transparency ensures that the proof generation and verification process is open and auditable by anyone. Additionally, STARKs are designed to be secure against quantum computer attacks, offering post-quantum security, which is crucial as quantum computing technology advances.

The basic framework of STARKs does not inherently provide zero-knowledge proofs (proofs that reveal nothing beyond the validity of the statement), but it can be extended to do so. These zero-knowledge versions allow proving a statement without disclosing any additional information about the computation. 

The STARK proof process begins with arithmetization, converting the computation into polynomial form. Low-degree testing then ensures these polynomials are of a low degree, enabling efficient proof generation and verification. An interactive protocol between a prover and a verifier follows, with the verifier checking the evidence through a series of queries, ensuring the correctness of the computation without re-executing it.


zkSync represents a significant advancement in addressing Ethereum's scalability challenges through the innovative use of Zero-Knowledge (ZK) technology. By operating as a Layer-2 protocol on top of the Ethereum blockchain, zkSync enhances transaction throughput while maintaining the robust security of the mainnet. 

Utilizing zk-rollups, zkSync processes and verifies batches of transactions off-chain before settling them on Ethereum, resulting in faster and more cost-effective transactions.

The mission of zkSync is to improve Ethereum's transaction processing capacity while upholding core blockchain principles such as freedom, self-sovereignty, and decentralization. Its integration of zkEVM reflects this commitment by enabling secure and trustless execution of EVM-compatible smart contracts, coupled with the added benefit of privacy. 

Additionally, zkSync's user-centric features, like native account abstraction, aim to simplify interactions with the Ethereum network, making blockchain technology more accessible and user-friendly.

Security and scalability are pivotal aspects of zkSync's design. By deriving security directly from the Ethereum mainnet and utilizing succinct zk proofs, zkSync reduces transaction costs and increases throughput without compromising on security. 

Its ecosystem has attracted over 200 projects, including major players like Chainlink, Uniswap, and Aave, which highlights its capability to support a diverse range of decentralized applications.

The scalability solutions offered by zkSync, including the use of advanced proof systems like STARKs, ensure efficient handling of large computations and provide transparency without the need for a trusted setup. These features make zkSync a robust, scalable, and secure solution for the Ethereum blockchain, driving wider adoption and facilitating the future growth of decentralized technologies.

In conclusion, zkSync stands out as a transformative Layer-2 solution that addresses Ethereum's scalability and usability issues while adhering to the core values of decentralization and security. Its combination of cutting-edge cryptographic techniques, user-friendly features, and strong security guarantees positions zkSync as a leading contender in the ongoing evolution of blockchain technology.

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